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Old 04-30-2007, 05:23 AM
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A quick question about titles and legal stuff.

A quick question about titles and legal stuff.

Background:

I have a 65 Mustang coupe that I am rebuilding and it is titled in my name. After much heartache and pain, I have come to the conclusion that the shell might just be to far gone to sink anymore money into. Although it has all new suspension installed. But that's about it, it's just a rolling shell right now.
What I want to do is find a shell that is in better condition, at least frame and undercarriage wise, and use that as my shell and put all my parts on that.
Question:
What if the shell I find has no title, or there is an issue with the title? Would it be bad if I cut the VIN off my shell and transplanted it onto the 'new' shell. Will a wreaking yard take a shell without a VIN? Any other issues with this idea.
The best scenario would be a clean title, this is just a what if question.

Thanks
Rusty

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Old 04-30-2007, 05:54 AM
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Bottom line, changing VINs is a federal offence. In addition to the VIN tag the serial number is also normally stamped in other places on the car. While most DMVs will usually only check the VIN tag, questionable/certain popular cars may often be subject to a more extensive inspection.

If it's determined that the VINs have been altered, at a minimum the car will be conficated, you will subjected various fine and face the possibility of jail time.

If you pick up another shell, even a legal bonded title would be far better.
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Old 04-30-2007, 06:02 AM
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Very bad idea! First there are other ways to identify a mustangs vin. Second, what if you or someone had an accident with it and the insurance co found out its not the car they insured. Big trouble.
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Old 04-30-2007, 06:39 AM
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Check with your state DMV, it may have provisions for a manufactured vehicle title that will allow for what you are wanting to do. To make a blanket statement that it is illegal may not be quite true, it depends on the state. Don't take the word of the clerk at the DMV office as the law either, they usually do not know the law, ask to speak with the department manager and in a calm voice ask them them how you should proceed.

With the recent trend in new steel classic car bodies (early Mustangs and Camaro's) that are officially licensed by Ford and GM some states are allowing the donor cars VIN to be applied to the new body and noted as such on the title.

Hot Rod magazine will be doing a future issue on this subject, keep an eye out for it.

Vince

Last edited by 302 Z28; 04-30-2007 at 06:52 AM.
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Old 04-30-2007, 06:54 AM
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Vince is right. You can choose to keep your DMV in the loop or not--up to you. The more they get involved the harder it will be. At least for later model cars with the VIN in the cowl (under the w/s), it is common for people to cut out the cowl section, graft it into a donor body and carry on. This is done for the very same reason you mention. The car bodies are simply too far gone to rebuild. There are auto restoration companies that actually advertise this service and do it regularly, so what you are proposing is not a new idea. Good luck on your project.
Mike
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Old 04-30-2007, 07:24 AM
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As far as I know the only place on the shell that has a VIN in the DS inner fender 'panel' which are available as replacement parts as well. The other location is the door tag, which has VIN and body options, which is just about useless, as doors are swapped quite frequenlty, some have lost their tag long ago. I agree the best option is a shell with a title, but some states to do not have titles for older cars, NY being one of them, that is where I am from BTW.
I did some searching here, and it seems that 'swaping' VINs is quite illegal, So What is one to do in a case like this??
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Old 04-30-2007, 07:56 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 1957plymouthhemi
Bottom line, changing VINs is a federal offence.
Once again, NO, it is not illegal under federal law to remove and replace the VIN. It is only illegal if the intent is to commit fraud. Read the law for yourself under Title 18 of US Code Section 511:

http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-...Cite:+18USC511

Specifically, the law does not apply to "a person who repairs such vehicle or part, if the removal, obliteration, tampering, or alteration is reasonably necessary for the repair" or if "that person is the owner of the motor vehicle".

I spent a long time talking to the vendor of the repro Camaro bodies at Carlisle last summer. Be assured that he has spent a lot of money having his lawyer look into this. Assuming you can prove legal ownership of both vehicles, it is completely legal under federal law to swap the VIN between the two body shells.

As an example, consider the situation where a tree falls on the cab of your brand new Ford pickup. You can go to the Ford dealership and order a new cab. This cab comes without a VIN. It is perfectly legal to transfer the old VIN tag to the new shell.

WARNING: State laws may vary, so do your research, but FEDERAL law allows it.
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Old 04-30-2007, 09:12 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rusty105
I did some searching here, and it seems that 'swaping' VINs is quite illegal, So What is one to do in a case like this??
In NY they do not register vehicles older than 72, so they will not have a record on either vehicle. As mentioned, you can buy replacement body panels without a VIN and you are required to transfer the old VIN to the new body panel. I also agree with the comment about involving the DMV as little as possible. You can go by and ask them but do not give them specifics.

Vince
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Old 04-30-2007, 11:00 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rusty105
A quick question about titles and legal stuff.

Background:

I have a 65 Mustang coupe that I am rebuilding and it is titled in my name. After much heartache and pain, I have come to the conclusion that the shell might just be to far gone to sink anymore money into. Although it has all new suspension installed. But that's about it, it's just a rolling shell right now.
What I want to do is find a shell that is in better condition, at least frame and undercarriage wise, and use that as my shell and put all my parts on that.
Question:
What if the shell I find has no title, or there is an issue with the title? Would it be bad if I cut the VIN off my shell and transplanted it onto the 'new' shell. Will a wreaking yard take a shell without a VIN? Any other issues with this idea.
The best scenario would be a clean title, this is just a what if question.

Thanks
Rusty
Rusty, you have two problems here. First.... your car does not have a "frame" so swapping the frame onto another body shell isn't an option. You will have to remove all your suspension upgrades and install them on another car. Mustangs of that vintage are unibody cars.

Because of this all you need to do is find another shell that has a title. Problem solved.

Quote:
Originally Posted by joe_padavano
........Specifically, the law does not apply to "a person who repairs such vehicle or part, if the removal, obliteration, tampering, or alteration is reasonably necessary for the repair" or if "that person is the owner of the motor vehicle".......
Although this is basically a true statement, changing the vin number IS fraud. What the previous statement is referencing is a situation where the vin tag has been damaged buy rust, accident etc and needs to be removed and replaced. REPLACING A VIN TAG WITH A VIN TAG THAT HAS A DIFFERENT VIN NUMBER IS A FEDERAL OFFENSE.

So boiled down here's your options. Fix what you have or find another shell (with a title) that's in better shape and transfer all your new suspension parts over to that one.
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Old 04-30-2007, 11:02 AM
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Here is the form you need. Follow the instructions to the letter and have all your paperwork complete before you go to DMV. They will give you non-transferable registration and plates. After they review your paperwork, they will send you a transferable registration in about 6 weeks. I believe they are mainly concerned with it being stolen. (your better off going in without any paperwork that does not match the current owner)

Registraion Form

You'll need:

a bill of sale from the previous owner ( and owner before that if you purchased within the last year)

weight ticket

Sales tax form

completed new registration application

pencil rubbing of the vin plate

insurance cards

Go in and just say you want to register this 65 mustang and you have no paperwork for it. Keep it short and simple. (don't say donor car, transplant, swap, etc.) once you obtain ownership, you can do wahtever you want (other than swap vins).

Last edited by Arrowhead; 04-30-2007 at 11:08 AM.
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Old 04-30-2007, 11:40 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Centerline
Although this is basically a true statement, changing the vin number IS fraud. What the previous statement is referencing is a situation where the vin tag has been damaged buy rust, accident etc and needs to be removed and replaced. REPLACING A VIN TAG WITH A VIN TAG THAT HAS A DIFFERENT VIN NUMBER IS A FEDERAL OFFENSE.
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):

Quote:
(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).
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.

Let's try a little thought experiment. Is it fraud to replace a front fender? How about a door? Floorpans? Trunklid? I doubt anyone here would have a problem with this.

How about the engine? Trans? Glass? Roof panel? Rear quarters? Again, I suspect none of these would be considered fraud. Yes, if you're trying to pass off a clone as a real Shelby, that's a different issue, but here we're talking about rust repair. So far, I don't think anyone has a problem.

So now we come to the three square inches of sheetmetal surrounding the VIN. You're telling me that somehow the Feds differentiate between that and the rest of the sheet metal on the car? Get serious. 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.
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Old 04-30-2007, 11:41 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Arrowhead
...once you obtain ownership, you can do wahtever you want (other than swap vins).
As far as the Feds are concerned, you can do that too.
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Old 04-30-2007, 12:06 PM
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Guys, all you have to is do a freaking Google search. There are a crap load of hits. Here is part of one:

Section 342.30(4)(a), Stats., provides:

If a law enforcement agency finds a vehicle or part of a vehicle on which the identification number has been removed, altered or obliterated or made impossible to read, the law enforcement agency may seize the vehicle or part of a vehicle. If the identification number cannot be identified, the seized vehicle or vehicle part is presumed to be contraband.

JEEZ! If you remove or swap a vin FOR ANY REASON, it IS against the law. No matter how you try to word it or bend the word it is against the law. While it may be hard to catch, it is against the law. Crap, that's what chop shops do! They put good vins from wrecked cars on stolen cars! It's so plain that it's a no brainer. The very mention of doing it is crazy at best. Just because you're a good citizen or good shop makes no difference.

But whatever, just go through the entire build, spend all that money and when you try to title it, just mention what you did. Or better yet, just call them. I'm sure they need a laugh on a monday. Then, i'll guess you'll know for sure.

Good luck.
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Old 04-30-2007, 12:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tfeverfred
Guys, all you have to is do a freaking Google search. There are a crap load of hits. Here is part of one:

Section 342.30(4)(a), Stats., provides:
Again, that's Wisconsin STATE law. Go back and read my original post. All together now: FEDERAL LAW does not prohibit VIN swapping for legitimate reasons. Your state may vary. Oh, and by the way, ALL the references to that particular Wisconsin law were concerning vehicles that really WERE stolen.

With all your Google searches, did you actually find a reference to FEDERAL law, and specifically to a case where a legitimate owner was found guilty? Yes, state law may vary. I pointed that out in my original post. I still ask the question, if you're replaced the roof, floor pans, quarters, doors, trunklid, hood, and fenders, (all of which would be unquestionably legal) what's the difference?
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Old 04-30-2007, 01:00 PM
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Federal Law!

In 1968 there was a Federal Standards Act, which codified the placement and attachment method
of vin tags. This resulted in the familiar windshield placement of the vin, so that it became 'public',
and open to inspection by law enforcement without court order or permission. This was not the
first time that vins were mandated under Federal Law. Remember though, that vehicles are 'real
property', and have titles issued which use the serial number/vin to identify the vehicle.
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