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  #31 (permalink)  
Old 05-01-2007, 05:54 AM
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OK, I didn't mean to start a heated debate, and I am not looking to break any laws either. Yes having a title would be great, and from what you guys have shown obtaining a registration in NY should not pose too much of a problem, and may be the way to go.

As far as Mustangs having a frame? Yes I know they are unibody construction, but they also have front and rear 'frame' rails. I did not mean to confuse anyone by me saying 'frame and undercarriage' I was referring to the underside, and these 'frame' rails. At the current state of this project it wouldn't take more then a Saturday afternoon to swap suspension over to a different shell.

As far as VIN locations I know of 2, and recently found out about another one. The locations I know about are DS inner fender apron, PS inner fender apron(hidden by fender), and just found about one on the DS inner fender on the other side of the first one, and hidden by the fender. On the car I have, I only have one. The one visible on the DS fender, that's it. Someone mentioned a VIN stamped on the front frame rails, engine, and other parts. From my understanding Ford didn't stamp engine and transmission with the VIN, UNLESS it was a some sort of a rare car, or option like factory racers, and the like. And even then only the last few characters were stamped. BUT either way, all those parts are replaceable. BUT would be important in a numbers matching restoration, which I an not doing anyway. It is a plain Jane 6cyl coupe with V8 conversion. I am not looking for a correct restoration, and would never pass it off as such.

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  #32 (permalink)  
Old 05-01-2007, 01:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by poncho62
But, you only changed a dash....not a whole body. Big difference, even if the tag was attached.
And yet again, I'll ask the question:

Apparently changing the cowl is acceptable. What happens when I then install new front fenders? Doors? Trunklid? Quarters? Floors? Roof? Any one of these would be fine. At what point is any of this different than swapping a complete shell with factory welds and alignment tooling?

I have to admit, I'm coming from a slightly different starting point, which is a GM A-body with body-on-frame construction. I have the original frame (with VIN stamping), the original block (with VIN derivative) and a very rusty body. My choices are to weld in lots and lots of sheetmetal ( and have a crappy patchwork when I'm done) or swap a rust-free shell. The latter produces a much better product at a much lower cost. No, using a completely different, titled donor car is not an option due to the need to preserve the unique VIN.
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  #33 (permalink)  
Old 05-01-2007, 04:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joe_padavano
Did you actually read the text of the law on the link I provided? You are incorrect. Just to save you the problem of looking it up, here's subsection B, paragraph 1 of the law (emphasis added):

I think "alteration" pretty much covers swapping the VIN tag. Paragraph 2 referenced in the quote lists the owner of the vehicle as one of the excepted persons to which the law does not apply.
Yes I've read the entire section several times and this subject has been covered many times in the past. You can read anything into those few sentences of legalese you want. Bottom line is that no lawyer will be able to defend you if you swap vin tags on a vehicle. If they catch you it's FRAUD plain and simple.
Quote:
Originally Posted by joe_padavano
.........You're telling me that somehow the Feds differentiate between that and the rest of the sheet metal on the car? Get serious.
I am serious. That little tag identifies that vehicle, not some other vehicle just like a title in your name identifies that that particular car belongs to you.
Quote:
Originally Posted by joe_padavano
.........The body shell is just another part of the car. We can quickly get into a heated discussion about the moral obligation of the owner as far as rebodying a valuable musclecar (and reasonable people can have a rational discussion about that), but as far as the Feds are concerned, if you have legal ownership of both body shells, swapping the VIN is not illegal.
The only thing that comes to mind after reading that paragraph is that it's total BS! Go ahead and justify (in your mind anyway) committing FRAUD if you want to, that's your right and I'm not going to argue with you about it. Reasonable people know what is right and wrong and the law is very clear on this no matter what you think it says. Only those bent on changing a vin in order to benefit from it will think it's OK. But there isn't a lawyer in the world that will tell you to go ahead and do it. And if you think there is then I personally challenge you to find one.
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  #34 (permalink)  
Old 05-01-2007, 05:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Centerline
The only thing that comes to mind after reading that paragraph is that it's total BS! Go ahead and justify (in your mind anyway) committing FRAUD if you want to, that's your right and I'm not going to argue with you about it. Reasonable people know what is right and wrong and the law is very clear on this no matter what you think it says.
I'll ask it again, what part of "does not apply" to the owner is not clear? Those are the words in the law, I'm not making them up, twisting them around, or doing anything but quoting.

Quote:
Only those bent on changing a vin in order to benefit from it will think it's OK.
Look you're entitled to your opinion, but for all your certainty, you still haven't answered my question. I've got two original cars, one a rusty collectible and one a parts car shell. I have clear title to both and I'm doing this for my own personal use. I can cut individual panels off the parts car and weld them into place one at a time, or I can swap the whole shell onto the original frame and drivetrain, preserving the factory panel alignment and welds. What's the difference (other than the fact that in the latter case the quality of restoration will be better)? At the Fisher Body plant the two shells were identical (the VIN tags weren't installed until the car was fully assembled). At one time I could have bought every single piece of sheet metal (including the cowl panel with the hole for the VIN tag) from GM. Would it be fraud if I were using NOS GM parts one panel at a time? Since I can't get NOS anymore, is it now fraud if I use made-in-China repro panels? How about if I hand-form a replacement for the rusty cowl? Is it fraud for people to replace the rusty frame on their A-body convertibles with one they could have bought at Carlisle for $2600 (and which would NOT have a matching VIN stamp? When does it become fraud? I can only assume that you haven't addressed this because you can't justify your position.
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  #35 (permalink)  
Old 05-01-2007, 06:01 PM
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I always told myself I would never insult someone on the internet because it is pointless, much like the argument with you. But, I can't help it. You are a freaking rock. Not because your opinion is different, but because you insist on twisting things to your end. If this calls for a ban, then I accept it.
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  #36 (permalink)  
Old 05-01-2007, 06:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tfeverfred
I always told myself I would never insult someone on the internet because it is pointless, much like the argument with you. But, I can't help it. You are a freaking rock. Not because your opinion is different, but because you insist on twisting things to your end. If this calls for a ban, then I accept it.
Thanks for the intelligent discourse.

Help me out, because I'm apparently at dumb as a stone (pun intended, sorry). What did I twist? I specifically asked a question about restoration of a rusty but collectable automobile (four times now) for my personal use (yes, I realize I am hijacking someone else's thread, sorry about that). So far, none of the people who have strong but differing opinions have offered an answer to my specific question. At what point does sheetmetal replacement become "fraud"? I'm not talking about stolen cars. I'm not talking about clones. I'm talking about the repair of a documented but damaged automobile that's legally owned.
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  #37 (permalink)  
Old 05-01-2007, 06:57 PM
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You know what? It's okay. Really. Build it. When you go to get it legal be sure you mention your vin work on it. I wish you the best. Have a good one.
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  #38 (permalink)  
Old 05-01-2007, 10:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joe_padavano
..........Help me out, because I'm apparently at dumb as a stone (pun intended, sorry). What did I twist? I specifically asked a question about restoration of a rusty but collectable automobile (four times now) for my personal use (yes, I realize I am hijacking someone else's thread, sorry about that). So far, none of the people who have strong but differing opinions have offered an answer to my specific question. At what point does sheetmetal replacement become "fraud"? I'm not talking about stolen cars. I'm not talking about clones. I'm talking about the repair of a documented but damaged automobile that's legally owned.


OK an example.

You own and have title to two body shells. One a 66 original Shelby Mustang and the other is a 200 ci. 6 Mustang fastback. The 6 cylinder shell is in excellent shape and the Shelby is a rusted hulk. You take the vin tag off the Shelby and put it on the other car and then transplant the engine, trans and all the other stuff off the Shelby as well.

A year later you decide to sell the car. The new owner thinks he's getting an original Shelby Mustang and the vin tag even indicates that.... but in truth he's getting a reworked 6 cylinder car. You get a Shelby price for an impostor and you did it by swapping the vin tag. That is plain and simple FRAUD and it's illegal!

Not that you would do this but it would be very easy for anyone without a conscience to do just that. That's why the law doesn't allow you to swap vin tags. The example in the law that you quoted is for a situation where the original vin has to be replaced for some reason.... it was lost, rusted out, damaged beyond repair etc. The intent of the law is not for an owner to commit fraud but to restore the vin tag to original. Now if that example didn't make sense to you, I'm afraid you'll never understand.

Last edited by Centerline; 05-01-2007 at 10:28 PM.
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  #39 (permalink)  
Old 05-02-2007, 07:26 AM
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Ok, I think I finally figured this out. You can change any part of a car. Any body panels, frame, driveline, anything, as long as you don't change that small piece of metal under the vin plate.
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  #40 (permalink)  
Old 05-02-2007, 08:29 AM
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Pardon me for jumping in so late in this discussion but I have been following it and since I had been part of a similar thread a few days ago I meant to stay out BUT, Centerline has it pegged and as has been said twist it to make it sound ok if you want to but try telling it to a judge! The bottom line is swapping a VIN is illegal and when it comes to taking a VIN from one car and placing it on another you have broke the law and committed fraud.

A wreck is no different than a rust case-About 10 years ago in KY, I know a guy who bought a Jeep Cherokee that had been totaled in the rear. A shop had grafted the body of a donor from about the firewall back even replacing some of the sheetmetal on the front with new parts then in order to avoid using the salvage title on the total rebuild he swapped the VIN from the donor which had a good title (he did this by replacing a small piece of the cowl so the tag would not be damaged). This is about what has been described here involving cowl change since that is about all of the original body that was left and in this case the guy who was having the work done owned both cars. He then sold this thing with a good title from the donor but about a YEAR later the new owner found out what had happened when the repair was discovered during servicing, a subsequent investigation determined that the VIN tag had been swapped and the new owner then sued the seller who lost his arse in court! There was criminal charges brought up but later dropped against the shop owner because he was simply doing this for a customer and although he was still guilty of physically swapping the VIN he got off with a slap on the wrist but he could have faced more serious charges. Twist it any way you want and point to others who have gotten away with it (so far anyway) but it IS illegal to swap a VIN from one car to another and when it is done to pass off a vintage classic as something other than what it is represented to be then you are leaving yourself open to possible HUGE financial and legal liabilities. We can BS about this all day and twist things around to make it seem ok but before taking a chance on doing this and exposing yourself to all the liabilities it entails spend a few dollars and talk to an attorney and I think that will settle it real quick! Apparently some do not realize how serious of an offense this can be and although there may be legal reasons allowing an "alteration" of the VIN (however they define that) in cases of repair I seriously doubt that making a rare classic out of a common model is one of them.

I am thinking here that it may be legal to remove an existing VIN from an old damaged part and then attach it to a NEW part that never was part of an existing titled car but if you have to remove and discard a second VIN from a titled car before attaching the original VIN THEN you are breaking the law.

Last edited by oldred; 05-02-2007 at 08:42 AM.
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  #41 (permalink)  
Old 05-02-2007, 10:04 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oldred
I am thinking here that it may be legal to remove an existing VIN from an old damaged part and then attach it to a NEW part that never was part of an existing titled car but if you have to remove and discard a second VIN from a titled car before attaching the original VIN THEN you are breaking the law.
Look, I'm not trying to twist anything, and I'm not calling names. I'm just trying to have an intelligent discussion among people who may have differing opinions. No offense here, but I'm skeptical of anecdotal information like the case you cited since the devil is in the legal details. First, was this charge against federal or state law? I've continually quoted federal law and said time and again that state laws can vary. Second, was the issue really VIN tag swapping or was it some other thing related to putting together two cars from one? That seems to be a popular target for consumer advocates.

I still ask the question, where is the magic line? I don't think anyone here would debate the moral or legal ethics of replacing a quarter panel or even a roof panel with one from a rust free donor car? How is that any different from welding on a full rear clip? Is the limit simply the two tabs that VIN tag is riveted to? Again, I'm trying to understand your position here.

Your statement that I've quoted above doesn't make sense to me. The act of removal and discard of an original VIN is clearly allowed by a wrecking yard or the legal owner in 118USC51, as I've noted. The issue of installing used vs. new parts can be sticking point if the repair is certified as having used only new components but acually didn't. THAT would be considered fraud just about anywhere.

Finally, I'll come back to my original question. I've got an original car with the correct VIN-stamped frame and engine. Is replacing ANY of the body sheet metal fraud? At what point does it cross the line, and why? Why are floor pans, quarters, and bolt-on parts OK, but the cowl isn't? No one here has attempted to answer this specific question.

If you buy a GTO convertible with a replacement frame, is that fraud? The VIN on the frame doesn't match the VIN tag on the cowl. Is that against the law? Why not?
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  #42 (permalink)  
Old 05-02-2007, 10:24 AM
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And what about t bucket kit cars? Model T fords had no vin or title. Had an engine serial number but no vin. I have seen and heard of guys titleing these as all kinds of things they have a title for.
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Old 05-02-2007, 11:12 AM
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[I am thinking here that it MAY be legal to remove an existing VIN from an old damaged part and then attach it to a NEW part that never was part of an existing titled car but if you have to remove and discard a second VIN from a titled car before attaching the original VIN THEN you are breaking the law.]

I said "I am thinking that it may be" that means I am speculating on that. The question keeps coming up "If I replace this or that then what is crossing the line"? You are crossing the line when you TAKE A VIN FROM ONE CAR AND PLACE IT ON ANOTHER! The case I mentioned was state law and was prosecuted because the VIN WAS SWAPPED! If they had of left the original in place then there would have been no problem but they would have been using a different title which they did not want to do, just as would be the case of using a donor body if restoring a rare classic. If you use the body including the cowl from a donor car AND the Vin from the donor then you have no problem but if you swap the VIN to do something like the Mustang Shelby example then you could very well have big problems. If you swap the original VIN instead of using the one from the donor car then you are breaking the law and also trying to present the car as something other than what it is. We can argue the hypothetical "what if I replaced this or that?" all day but I would not want to stand in front of a judge with that as my only defense. The bottom line is that it is illegal to swap a VIN and trying to convince anyone here that it is ok is useless because you are dreaming if you think you are going to hear that judge say "Ok, I guess you are right".

Last edited by oldred; 05-02-2007 at 04:39 PM.
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  #44 (permalink)  
Old 05-02-2007, 04:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joe_padavano
......................... I still ask the question, where is the magic line? I don't think anyone here would debate the moral or legal ethics of replacing a quarter panel or even a roof panel with one from a rust free donor car? How is that any different from welding on a full rear clip? Is the limit simply the two tabs that VIN tag is riveted to? Again, I'm trying to understand your position here..........................

.............Finally, I'll come back to my original question. I've got an original car with the correct VIN-stamped frame and engine. Is replacing ANY of the body sheet metal fraud? At what point does it cross the line, and why? Why are floor pans, quarters, and bolt-on parts OK, but the cowl isn't? No one here has attempted to answer this specific question.
Here's why and it's in the very text of the law you quoted in your first post in this thread, Title 18 - US Code.


Quote:
TITLE 18--CRIMES AND CRIMINAL PROCEDURE

PART I--CRIMES

CHAPTER 25--COUNTERFEITING AND FORGERY

Sec. 511. Altering or removing motor vehicle identification numbers

(a) A person who--
(1) knowingly removes, obliterates, tampers with, or alters an
identification number for a motor vehicle or motor vehicle part
; or
(2) with intent to further the theft of a motor vehicle,
knowingly removes, obliterates, tampers with, or alters a decal or
device affixed to a motor vehicle pursuant to the Motor Vehicle
Theft Prevention Act,

shall be fined under this title, imprisoned not more than 5 years, or both.

I think that about covers it.
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  #45 (permalink)  
Old 05-02-2007, 05:07 PM
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Some will argue that pertains to swapping a VIN to hide a theft but it clearly states "or" with intent to further the theft of a motor vehicle. Fellows a VIN is a big deal and it is just what it says, it is a vehicle IDENTIFICATION number used for the purpose of keeping track of the darn things and if it were simple and legal to swap the VIN then it would be useless and would be of little benefit for the purpose it is meant for. I have rebuilt several "salvage title" cars and in fact my 2004 Mustang has a salvage title and when I apply for a title I MUST have the VIN from EVERY car that I buy used parts from and list the part along with the corresponding VIN from the car it is taken from. If you remove the VIN then there is no way to determine a car's history and whether it is stolen or not so if you could legally swap the VIN there would be nothing to stop someone from using a stolen body. THAT is why it is illegal to remove the VIN from a vehicle, never mind transplanting it onto another one. Tampering with that tag is risky business so Call the DMV, a lawyer, the sheriff's office or the state police before doing this and I think they will put it to rest in a hurry and if you don't believe that then make the call.

Last edited by oldred; 05-02-2007 at 05:31 PM.
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