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  #46 (permalink)  
Old 05-02-2007, 06:21 PM
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If you tamper with a vin tag it is against the law. If you remove it to do repairs, you sure as heck better have some type of proof as to that being the reason. You may want to do it with a DMV person present! And even then, you may have trouble. It has been stated that, "it would be for my own use" that is also crap! Sooner or later that car is going to be sold. it needs to be sold for what it really is. You can swap all sorts of fenders and panels or whatever all you want, but you CAN NOT swap a vin and try to pass the car off as something it isn't. EVEN IF YOU KEPT THE SAME BODY STYLE!

Maybe it would never get checked by a DMV person, but if it did, you would be in a crap load of trouble.

Here's a little scenario: You build a car using the vin from a crushed 70 Hemi Cuda convertible. You get panels and pieces from several other cudas and put them all together and use the vin from the bad cuda for registration. It might not get caught and now you have a fake cuda. You say it's for your own use and no one gets hurt. Until you get offered $500,000 for it. Now, would you sell it for what it is (frankincuda worth $15,000) or would you take the big payday? Maybe you would do the right thing, but the new owner might not. Maybe you would go for the big payday? Fine, but I would not want to be in your shoes when the new owner finds out and trust me, sooner or later he would. An a** kicking would be the least of your worries.

I find it unbelievable that anyone with the slightest amount of automobile knowledge would not know that you can't go around swapping identities of cars! The very mention of it is crazy! So crazy that if you walked into the DMV to even ask that question you may find yourself behind the counter talking to a deputy!

Swap all the metal you want! YOU CAN NOT SWAP VIN TAGS! I REPEAT..... YOU CAN NOT NOT NOT SWAP VIN TAGS and if you take it off to do a repair you really need to ask someone in AUTHORITY if you can get....PERMISSION.

Yea, there are guys using titles for whatever to get other cars registered. Some have been caught and some have not. Do you REALLY want to risk it? You want to risk all the hard work and money put into a project to see it crushed for being a fake!? You want to risk heavy fines and maybe a little jail time? Maybe they'll give you an invite to watch them crush it.

So you say you're not operating a chop shop and you're not a thief. Good, but the lady behind the counter or the inspector of your car doesn't know you! They'll just be happy that they caught another idiot trying to pull a fast one.

So, if you try it, GOOD LUCK! But know this..... when the lady at the counter ask you to come to the side office to fill out some forms..... be prepared to meet a deputy.

Oh, by the way ALL OF THIS WAS MENTIONED EARLIER! I'm NOT going to give the post #s because you NEED to read the ENTIRE thread. Some very good info got posted.... OVER AND OVER.

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  #47 (permalink)  
Old 05-02-2007, 06:44 PM
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I think the biggest problem here is some people want so desperately to do this they manage to convince themselves and read into the law the the way they want it to read. For instance it was stated that in 118usc51 "that the removal and discard is clearly allowed by a "wrecking yard" This is not true! Not in the sense we normally think of as a wrecking yard anyway it means for a scrap metal recycler and it clearly says to reduce to scrap metal, they are not talking about a parts recycler who had BETTER have a VIN on record for everything he is selling parts off of! When working with salvage cars it would be very desirable to be able to swap a VIN since one with a clean title would be worth a bunch more than the one with a salvage title but this is a BIG No-No and would land someone in jail RIGHT NOW! Since we are talking about legally owned cars and titles it would be no different than what is being proposed here except that it is dealing with damaged cars and not rust-outs, as far as changing parts and swapping the VIN there would be no difference.

About going to the DMV to ask about this, if you do go tell them you want to know if it is ok to swap the VIN but don't tell them you have done it and want to know because you would most likely be arrested on the spot.

Last edited by oldred; 05-02-2007 at 06:50 PM.
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  #48 (permalink)  
Old 05-02-2007, 06:45 PM
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When I lived in Ariz., the DPS (hiway patrol) was primarily in charge of vehicle inspections, I am pretty sure most other states are the same way.

When I lived there, the newspapers were almost weekly reporting on out-of-state cars with questionable VINs

One I remember the most is a 72 Lincoln Mark IV (i think iv) that was stolen within a month of the original buyers purchase. In 1988 when the current owner of that car came to Phoenix to register, our DPS found that it was indeed a hot car (still in mint condition). This car had been thru 3 owners beside the original, before someone caught it.

It will be caught sooner or later

Might not be a bad idea to go to your local hiway patrol, let them give you a tongue lashing without the demoralizing having to wait in line at DMV for some twit that can't speak english, let alone know what the laws are.
Perhaps they could tell you without all the legal language that all lawers speak. (why use 20 words when 2 will do)
Just my thoughts
Bryan
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  #49 (permalink)  
Old 05-03-2007, 06:02 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Centerline
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.
Lets be fair now, and not take this out of context, the whole the section goes like this: (copied and pasted from here Section 511 )
Quote:
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.

(b)

(1) Subsection (a) of this section does not apply to a removal, obliteration, tampering, or alteration by a person specified in paragraph (2) of this subsection (unless such person knows that the vehicle or part involved is stolen).
(2) The persons referred to in paragraph (1) of this subsection are—
(A) a motor vehicle scrap processor or a motor vehicle demolisher who complies with applicable State law with respect to such vehicle or part;
(B) a person who repairs such vehicle or part, if the removal, obliteration, tampering, or alteration is reasonably necessary for the repair;
(C) a person who restores or replaces an identification number for such vehicle or part in accordance with applicable State law; and
(D) a person who removes, obliterates, tampers with, or alters a decal or device affixed to a motor vehicle pursuant to the Motor Vehicle Theft Prevention Act, if that person is the owner of the motor vehicle, or is authorized to remove, obliterate, tamper with or alter the decal or device by—
(i) the owner or his authorized agent;
(ii) applicable State or local law; or
(iii) regulations promulgated by the Attorney General to implement the Motor Vehicle Theft Prevention Act.

(c)
As used in this section, the term—
(1) “identification number” means a number or symbol that is inscribed or affixed for purposes of identification under chapter 301 and part C of subtitle VI of title 49;
(2) “motor vehicle” has the meaning given that term in section 32101 of title 49;
(3) “motor vehicle demolisher” means a person, including any motor vehicle dismantler or motor vehicle recycler, who is engaged in the business of reducing motor vehicles or motor vehicle parts to metallic scrap that is unsuitable for use as either a motor vehicle or a motor vehicle part;
(4) “motor vehicle scrap processor” means a person—
(A) who is engaged in the business of purchasing motor vehicles or motor vehicle parts for reduction to metallic scrap for recycling;
(B) who, from a fixed location, uses machinery to process metallic scrap into prepared grades; and
(C) whose principal product is metallic scrap for recycling;

but such term does not include any activity of any such person relating to the recycling of a motor vehicle or a motor vehicle part as a used motor vehicle or a used motor vehicle part.

(d)
For purposes of subsection (a) of this section, the term “tampers with” includes covering a program decal or device affixed to a motor vehicle pursuant to the Motor Vehicle Theft Prevention Act for the purpose of obstructing its visibility.
Subsection (a) applies basically if you are stealing the car.
Subsection (b) says subsection (a) does not apply to persons specified in paragraph (2) of subsection (b). Look closely at those sections especially (D) (i)
Quote:
(D) (i)the owner or his authorized agent
Subsections (c) & (d) are some definitions.

But I think the kicker here is Paragraph (2)(B)
Quote:
(2)(B) a person who repairs such vehicle or part, if the removal, obliteration, tampering, or alteration is reasonably necessary for the repair;
It leaves a lot to interpretation as to what is "reasonably necessary for the repair"

Now this didn't really solve my issue of a car with no title, and it looks like I would be better off to find a shell that did have a title, but since we went off on a tangent, I figure I would do some digging. To broadly say that something is illegal, and only quote 1/2 the law isn't right. And i am not condoning anything regarding VIN #s, but it appears the if I OWNED BOTH cars, 1 rusty (and valuable) and 1 solid (but plane jane) I could repair the valuable car with the shell of the plane jane. Would it be ethical to pass it off as all original, I don't think so, but is it illegal?? Ethical and legal are not the same. Informing a potential buyer that the car went under major restoration, including major body parts would be the right thing to do, as the shell is only a part of a whole car, you have many more things that make up a classic. In the end I don't think this will even be a cut and dry issue, maybe the law needs updating, who konws?

As far a the guy with the jeep lawsuit, Again, quoting parts of the law or case results is unfair to the parties involved, perhaps the case went that way due to hiding the fact that the jeep was constructed from more then 1 jeep???

Rusty
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  #50 (permalink)  
Old 05-03-2007, 06:18 AM
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Good post Rusty. you bring up some very valid points about just posting excerpts without knowing very specific information about the suit.

I do not think the law needs to be changed however as this will give the politicians another chance to get into our wallets.

IMO what you are wanting to do is perfectly legal. If however you choose to sell the car it is your duty (IMO) to inform the new owner in writing (his copy and your copy) that the car has gone through significant reconstruction and is not original. However the new owner chooses to represent the car is not your concern any longer as you now have a document stating how the car was represented when you sold it.

Locally we had a case that involved a 69 Camaro Yenko clone. This car was expertly constructed and was period correct in every aspect. I saw the car many times at shows and looked it over very closely and knew the owner personally. He sold the car to a buyer up north somewhere and sold it as a clone with sales documentation stating such. That individual then sold the car as original for a tidy sum. The new owner later realized his mistake and proceeded to sue the guy he bought it from and the the guy who built it. What saved the builder was the notarized document of sale that both parties signed and had copies of.

Vince
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  #51 (permalink)  
Old 05-03-2007, 07:03 AM
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Rusty you better read that again and look closely at what it says, how on Earth can that be interpreted to mean that the owner can swap a VIN onto another car?

"(D) a person who removes, obliterates, tampers with, or alters a decal or device affixed to a motor vehicle PURSUANT TO THE MOTOR VEHICLE THEFT PREVENTION ACT, if that person is the owner of the motor vehicle, or is authorized to remove, obliterate, tamper with or alter the decal or device by—(i) the owner or his authorized agent;
(ii) applicable State or local law; or
(iii) regulations promulgated by the Attorney General to implement the Motor Vehicle Theft Prevention Act."

"PURSUANT TO THE MOTOR VEHICLE THEFT PREVENTION ACT" That paragraph does not give the owner the clear right to ARBITRARILY remove a VIN and it CERTAINLY DOES NOT GIVE ANYONE THE RIGHT TO SWAP A VIN ONTO ANOTHER CAR and that is what we have been talking about, if you remove a VIN and replace it with a different one then you have illegally swapped the VIN and commited a felony no matter what else you have replaced on the car.

This whole thing borders on ludicrous because it is well known that swapping a VIN is illegal and a simple call to the authorities would end the discussion. Believe what you want but you can go to jail for doing this and also you could be sued by an unsuspecting buyer because no matter what you want to believe or how it gets twisted around it IS ILLEGAL! Get real here, call a lawyer or the authorities and you will see for yourself just how serious swapping a VIN onto another car is and just how ridiculous it is to argue otherwise, Make that call!


"As far a the guy with the jeep lawsuit, Again, quoting parts of the law or case results is unfair to the parties involved, perhaps the case went that way due to hiding the fact that the jeep was constructed from more then 1 jeep???"

That case was prosecuted because the VIN had been changed! It was changed in order to use a different title which made the Jeep more valuable, EXACTLY the same reason for wanting to swap the titles (swapping the VIN is swapping the title) we have been talking about. Why swap it unless you are trying to hide something such as the fact the body has been swapped? If the donor body is not legally title-able (is that a word? ) then you are clearly breaking the law and in all probability committing a felony. Argue to the contrary all you want but swapping the VIN is illegal and can get you in serious trouble, again I challenge you to call the authorities.
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  #52 (permalink)  
Old 05-03-2007, 07:14 AM
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302, I have always respected your opinion but with all due respect you are wrong on this one and what you are suggesting could get someone in serious trouble! Since the Camaro was sold as a "clone" without a true Yenko VIN obviously the VIN had not been changed, unlike the Jeep I mentioned, so what is the point? If it had been determined that the VIN had been tampered with then probably the car would have been seized.
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Old 05-03-2007, 07:23 AM
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This entire discussion is based on opinion and anecdotal evidence. None of us are lawyers, title clerks, or judges. None of us actually know what will or could be interpreted in a court of law as legal until it is challenged. Not even considering the differences state to state of laws. And we all know a good lawyer can convince the Pope something is legal or not.

The end (for me)
Vince
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Old 05-03-2007, 07:37 AM
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I still think it all hinges on what is reasonable for repair.
Example.

You have a 66 Shelby, During a vintage race weekend you go off course, and mangle up the left front beyond repair. The rest of the car is fine. The VIN is stamped on the left front inner fender. What do you do?? Do you graft a complete front clip onto your Shelby, which will, or will not have a VIN# on it, Do you buy repro parts that have no VIN# ? One way or another, to repair the Shelby you have to move the VIN from the wrecked parts to the replacement parts. If you have proper Documentation for ALL parts, what is the issue??

Rusty
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Old 05-03-2007, 07:44 AM
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I am not a lawyer but I play one on tv.

All joking aside this is far more than just conjecture and most people are well aware of how serious this is. I deal with titles on parts cars quite often because I have been buying and rebuilding wrecks with salvage titles. The DMV is EXTREMELY picky about that VIN and I have become acutely aware (from the authorities that's why I keep saying to call them!) of how important it is to keep track of EVERY VIN on every vehicle I have regardless of whether it is to be rebuilt or used as parts I do not need to be a lawyer as I am faced with this regularly. I would never dream of removing or destroying a VIN unless the car was headed for the crusher and in that case removing it would be ok BUT if I then used that VIN on another vehicle it would get my butt sent off to jail! There is no argument here, it is simply illegal to swap a VIN and most people already know that! Fellows you can go to JAIL for doing this and don't let anyone tell you that you won't! MAKE THAT CALL!
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Old 05-03-2007, 07:54 AM
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Rusty that is what is allowed but there is a procedure even for doing that if you follow the law to a "T". What you are doing there is not what we have been talking about that is simply using the same VIN on the same car it was issued to and does not involve a different VIN from a different car! It is simple you can NOT legally take a VIN from one car and use it on another one! I know the argument has been that if you change bodies you are just changing parts but if you change a body and remove a VIN so you can replace it with another one you are crossing the line. What would be the difference between doing that to a rusted out classic and a rebuildable wreck? It is WELL known that you can not rebuild a wreck and use a different VIN.
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Old 05-03-2007, 08:42 AM
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I think this bears a revisit:

I had a Chevelle with a rusty cowl. I replaced the cowl section with a donor El Camino. I could not register a Chevelle as an El Camino. I changed VIN's. I owned both cars. It was not an SS or LS6, etc. Plain Jane Malibu. No theft, no intent to defraud, nothing.

I stand behind my decision and would fight tooth & nail in any court of law if attempted to prove otherwise. If I were unethical and tried to pass off a high dollar car, that would be wrong. Illegal?--not for me to decide. Maybe--I emphasize maybe, I should have involved the DMV. I think reasonable man theory applies here and I did the best thing. I really believe the "alteration/removal" was justifried.

Can anyone out there really argue with me on this one? To make a blanket statement that swapping VIN's is wrong is off the mark. There are exceptions

Last edited by edgewoodrx; 05-03-2007 at 08:44 AM. Reason: typo
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Old 05-03-2007, 08:52 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by edgewoodrx
Can anyone out there really argue with me on this one? To make a blanket statement that swapping VIN's is wrong is off the mark. There are exceptions
Thank you. The same goes for ANY blanket statements about legality. As others have said, this isn't a legal forum. Suffice to say that I've done my own personal research. Here in Virginia, local body shops openly and legally replace the cabs of trucks (using both new and used cabs) and transfer the VIN. Note that transfering the VIN tag on a used cab requires removal of the old and replacement of the new. All of these shops are still in business. They are completely open about what they do and are not hiding anything.

With that, I'm also done. Everyone must live with themselves. You have my real name. If you're uncomfortable with my opinions, don't buy a car from me.
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Old 05-03-2007, 08:59 AM
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Edge, What you did was questionable since proper procedures were not followed but since the rest of the numbers should match then you MIGHT have an argument but anytime a VIN is obviously tampered with it gets sticky. Had you simply changed the body and swapped the VIN there would have been no question you broke the law. As I keep saying play these word games if you like but it won't mean squat to a judge, CALL THE DMV! When you do be honest about it tell them you have two cars and want to change the VIN to PARTS from the other car and see what they tell you!
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Old 05-03-2007, 09:06 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joe_padavano
Thank you. The same goes for ANY blanket statements about legality. As others have said, this isn't a legal forum. Suffice to say that I've done my own personal research. Here in Virginia, local body shops openly and legally replace the cabs of trucks (using both new and used cabs) and transfer the VIN. Note that transfering the VIN tag on a used cab requires removal of the old and replacement of the new. All of these shops are still in business. They are completely open about what they do and are not hiding anything.

With that, I'm also done. Everyone must live with themselves. You have my real name. If you're uncomfortable with my opinions, don't buy a car from me.

There are legal procedures for replacing parts but it is not as simple as just swiping the VIN from one car and replacing it with another, if it were the VIN would be meaningless! Fellows listen to this guy if you like but you could get yourself in deep trouble, but then who knows maybe he knows more than the folks at the DMV.
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