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AAZCD (Forum Supporter)
AAZCD (Forum Supporter) Dork
12/6/20 10:03 a.m.

I've heard that you can take a VIN tag from an old rotting hulk and basically rebuild a car around it. I have also heard that you are committing a felony if you take a VIN from one car and put it on another. There is a space in between where things aren't so clear. What is the law, or where can I find it?

 

I have gathered some Porsche 914s to play with. One is a 1970 with a clear title, but rot from bumper to bumper. Another is a 1973 with a very clean front end, but no paperwork. If I cut major parts from the '73 and weld them onto the '70 it seems pretty clear that would be fine. I could probably even swap the drivetrain and nobody would care.

 

Wait... The '73 is a better car to restore. It needs a lot of work, but is a much better foundation to start from. Can I strip them both to the bones and transfer the 'characteristics' (bumpers and VIN tags) of the '70 to the '73? Have the '73 assume the title of the '70? ...No?

 

What can you do under a restoration in regards to the VIN without breaking the law?

L5wolvesf
L5wolvesf HalfDork
12/6/20 10:11 a.m.

I've heard that you can take a VIN tag from an old rotting hulk and basically rebuild a car around it.

Yes you can, but it wouldn't necessarily be legal. There are usually 3 VINs on a car and they need to match.

 

I have also heard that you are committing a felony if you take a VIN from one car and put it on another.

I can't site the regulation but yes.

 

What is the law, or where can I find it?

There are many laws starting with the federal laws, then state.

Javelin (Forum Supporter)
Javelin (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
12/6/20 10:31 a.m.

You're second scenario (but with all the 70 parts and drivetrain) is called a "rebody" and it happens all the time. It is legal, however, you have to have the car inspected and a title will be issued stating rebody, sometimes even with an additional state VIN issued. You see a fair number of Shelby GT350's like this where the unibody was too far gone but they have the original engine, trans, axle, and Vin. 

L5wolvesf
L5wolvesf HalfDork
12/6/20 10:55 a.m.

I won't get into how poorly many laws/regulations are written but this area may be one of them. The link here is similar to a couple I've read before. As you might find semantics pays a significant role in what is considered legal and what is not - by non lawyers.

http://vb.foureyedpride.com/showthread.php?42909-Looks-like-quot-rebodying-quot-is-actually-legal 

 

Patrick (Forum Supporter)
Patrick (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
12/6/20 11:37 a.m.

No matter the legalities, what happens in your garage stays in your garage, and if you're not taking a rotten hulk and slapping the vin on a stolen good car follow your morals and keep your mouth closed.  
 

that's just like, my opinion man, ymmv, I personally don't have a moral objection to your idea.  I may or may not have a car that may or may not be registered as a slightly different year, but i also didn't move the serial number tag.  It's still in a baggie in the kitchen, how it came with the car when i bought it.  Is it a "rebody" if the only thing saved from an upside down vandalized car in the woods was the numbers and title and a piece of glass? if you're so far down the line that the engine has since been changed and the only thing left of any factory body is the quarters, roof, and doors?  
 

I tend to view this type of law as more intent versus letter.  Obviously lawyers and judges would disagree.  Will i buy a (out for repo, stolen) car with no title and find a junk one for the paperwork?  No, absoberkinglutely not.  Would I buy a car out of a field that has been there for 40 years and grandpa's file cabinet got destroyed by a barn fire 35 years ago and pull a 'historical document' out of my safe and use that to give the car a new lease on life?  Maybe.  

BoxheadTim (Forum Supporter)
BoxheadTim (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
12/6/20 12:13 p.m.

Silly question - how hard would it be to get a title for said '73?

noddaz
noddaz UltraDork
12/6/20 12:24 p.m.
BoxheadTim (Forum Supporter) said:

Silly question - how hard would it be to get a title for said '73?

Or at least find out if it is stolen.

Another thought, laws pertaining to this probably vary from state to state but are over-ridden by federal laws.  Be careful.  It may be easier to get a new vin for the 1973.

Steve_Jones
Steve_Jones HalfDork
12/6/20 12:44 p.m.

It is a federal crime to:

  • remove,
  • obliterate,
  • tamper with, or
  • alter

a vehicle’s VIN number.  It's pretty clear. Will you get caught? I'd guess not, will anyone care? I'd guess not. 

CrustyRedXpress (Forum Supporter)
CrustyRedXpress (Forum Supporter) Reader
12/6/20 12:47 p.m.

As long as 73 isn't stolen (not just, "I don't know why it didn't come with a title!" but actually running the VIN to make sure), I don't see a moral issue. 

Lots of things are against the law.

ShawnG
ShawnG UltimaDork
12/6/20 1:07 p.m.

In reply to Steve_Jones :

It doesn't say how much sheet metal around that VIN tag can be replaced.

My 74 toyota truck had the tag screwed to the door.

Some Mopars have it on the dash pad.

 

AAZCD (Forum Supporter)
AAZCD (Forum Supporter) Dork
12/6/20 1:14 p.m.
BoxheadTim (Forum Supporter) said:

Silly question - how hard would it be to get a title for said '73?

I recently got a title for a different '73. It was simple. I filled out a couple forms and paid someone $500 to do the legal work. It was a 'Court Order Title' which is a process that I hadn't even heard of until I found it researching for that car. It wouldn't be any fun to do that again, no challenge to it. Here's the basic legal forms: Application-For-Court-Ordered-Title

This is more a case of curiosity and having a similar car that is titled that is not worth the investment of time to restore. I doubt that the car was stolen. Most of the 'barn-yard find' 914s around here were not worth scrapping in the 1980s, so they were just left in the field to rot. It may be a case of someone having a title in a box of their grandfather's stuff somewhere in the attic, but not likely stolen.

I'm looking at some info from following L5wolvesf's post about rebody. I don't think that what I have in mind will quite fit within the Oklahoma statute.

 

Peabody
Peabody UltimaDork
12/6/20 1:20 p.m.

Ford used to use a special shaped rivet to mount their VIN plates. Last I looked I still had a bunch of them 

AAZCD (Forum Supporter)
AAZCD (Forum Supporter) Dork
12/6/20 1:40 p.m.

Oklahoma legal definition of Rebodied:

27. “Rebodied vehicle” means a vehicle:

 

a. which has been assembled using a new body or new major component which is of the identical type as the original vehicle and is licensed by the manufacturer of the original vehicle and other original, new or reconditioned parts. For purposes of this paragraph, “new body or new major component” means a new body, cab, frame, front end clip or rear end clip, and

 

b. which is not a salvage, rebuilt, or junked vehicle as defined by paragraph 1, 2, or 5 of subsection A of Section 1105 of this title, and

 

c. for which the Tax Commission has assigned or will assign a new identifying number;

 

I can see the possibility of parts taken from another similar car built by the same manufacturer - a whole body - being interpreted to fit into that. That does not fit with what I was thinking of doing though; it's a new VIN and a new title. I may just have to build it as a track and off-public road vehicle (and never pay any fees or taxes on it).

I'm sure that I could get away with just doing it and driving it. ...but for a public statement on an internet forum, I'm saying, "There is no way I would actually do that."   wink

No Time
No Time SuperDork
12/6/20 1:44 p.m.

I thought I saw one of the MT TV shows where they took the concept of remaining metal to the extreme in a rebody project.

They cut around the VIN tag taking a rectangle of sheet metal slightly larger than the vin tag from the original vehicle. They then cleaned up the sheet metal around the VIN and welded it into the new body firewall so they didn't have to touch the rivets. 

I think it was Grayard Carz, but it could have been one of the other shows. 

L5wolvesf
L5wolvesf HalfDork
12/6/20 1:46 p.m.

what happens in your garage stays in your garage” . . .

until you want to sell it.

 

I tend to view this type of law as more intent versus letter.

Intent true, but if you don’t follow the letter you will likely be fined.

 

“Would I buy a car out of a field that has been there for 40 years and grandpa's file cabinet got destroyed by a barn fire 35 years ago and pull a 'historical document' out of my safe and use that to give the car a new lease on life?

There is likely a state procedure and fees (MONEY) to follow

 

“laws pertaining to this probably vary from state to state but are over-ridden by federal laws.

From what I’ve read Feds don’t particularly care since the registration and inspection MONEY go to the states. That is backed by the states having the procedural regulations to deal with this type of thing.

 

“will anyone care?

The state agency you didn’t pay fees (MONEY) to will care

Steve_Jones
Steve_Jones HalfDork
12/6/20 1:52 p.m.
ShawnG said:

In reply to Steve_Jones :

It doesn't say how much sheet metal around that VIN tag can be replaced.

My 74 toyota truck had the tag screwed to the door.

Some Mopars have it on the dash pad.

 

He said he'd remove it from the 70. That's 100% against federal law, and federal trumps state. I don't care at all, but he asked about it being legal, vs moral. I see no issue with using the 70 paperwork to save the 73. Many early cars have the vin plate screwed on and are easy to swap. If done with no bad intent, I see no problems, but it is still not legal, technically. 

vwcorvette (Forum Supporter)
vwcorvette (Forum Supporter) UltraDork
12/6/20 2:33 p.m.

Just cause it bugs me:

VIN is vehicle identification number 

Don't say VIN number. That's redundant. 

Like ATM machine. Automated teller machine.

I'll go away now.

 

 

L5wolvesf
L5wolvesf HalfDork
12/6/20 2:39 p.m.

In reply to vwcorvette (Forum Supporter) :

Nooo don't go. You haven't explained about your Volkswagen Corvette. laugh 

AAZCD (Forum Supporter)
AAZCD (Forum Supporter) Dork
12/6/20 2:44 p.m.
Steve_Jones said:
ShawnG said:

In reply to Steve_Jones :

It doesn't say how much sheet metal around that VIN tag can be replaced.

My 74 toyota truck had the tag screwed to the door.

Some Mopars have it on the dash pad.

 

He said he'd remove it from the 70. That's 100% against federal law, and federal trumps state. I don't care at all, but he asked about it being legal, vs moral. I see no issue with using the 70 paperwork to save the 73. Many early cars have the vin plate screwed on and are easy to swap. If done with no bad intent, I see no problems, but it is still not legal, technically. 

I misspoke in my original post. Legally speaking, I meant that the rusty portions of the car would be removed from around the VIN tags on the '70 and be replaced with identical pieces of refurbished metal (the body) of the '73. The VIN tags remain static and attached to what remains 'original 1970 metal'.

pres589 (djronnebaum)
pres589 (djronnebaum) PowerDork
12/6/20 3:07 p.m.

So you basically part out the '73 and patch up the '70 with '73 bits?  Untitled car bones used to save a titled car? 

I don't see any way this could be illegal.  It's the lifting of the VIN plate from the rust pile and glued to the non-titled good car where things go pear shaped.

californiamilleghia
californiamilleghia SuperDork
12/6/20 3:10 p.m.

a Judge we know said this about a car which was really 2 cars welded together decades ago , 

the title was for the back end of the car ,  but the front end was where the VIN was......ummm

Anyway he said , "do not pay more for it than you are willing to walk away from someday"

just saying , you never know  when the wrong cop wants to make trouble for you.....

And yes we walked away from the car ,  and later heard about the guy who bought it and did not know it was 2 cars , he was not a happy camper.....

L5wolvesf
L5wolvesf HalfDork
12/6/20 3:11 p.m.
AAZCD (Forum Supporter) said:

I misspoke in my original post. Legally speaking, I meant that the rusty portions of the car would be removed from around the VIN tags on the '70 and be replaced with identical pieces of refurbished metal (the body) of the '73 of questionable origin. The VIN tags remain static and attached to what remains 'original 1970 metal'.

I fixed that for ya. 

vwcorvette (Forum Supporter)
vwcorvette (Forum Supporter) UltraDork
12/6/20 6:25 p.m.
L5wolvesf said:

In reply to vwcorvette (Forum Supporter) :

Nooo don't go. You haven't explained about your Volkswagen Corvette. laugh 

Short version so as not to derail the thread. My 75 Stingray had Jetta GLI Recaros in it. Plus I love both Volkswagens and Corvettes.

ShawnG
ShawnG UltimaDork
12/6/20 9:14 p.m.
AAZCD (Forum Supporter) said:
Steve_Jones said:
ShawnG said:

In reply to Steve_Jones :

It doesn't say how much sheet metal around that VIN tag can be replaced.

My 74 toyota truck had the tag screwed to the door.

Some Mopars have it on the dash pad.

 

He said he'd remove it from the 70. That's 100% against federal law, and federal trumps state. I don't care at all, but he asked about it being legal, vs moral. I see no issue with using the 70 paperwork to save the 73. Many early cars have the vin plate screwed on and are easy to swap. If done with no bad intent, I see no problems, but it is still not legal, technically. 

I misspoke in my original post. Legally speaking, I meant that the rusty portions of the car would be removed from around the VIN tags on the '70 and be replaced with identical pieces of refurbished metal (the body) of the '73. The VIN tags remain static and attached to what remains 'original 1970 metal'.

This happens with aircraft all the time. Granted, aircraft are much more tightly controlled.

As long as you have an inspection plate, you have an airplane.

I own a black and gold, Y84 Special Edition Trans Am that fits in a drawer in my filing cabinet. "I'm gonna restore it one day."

Scott_H
Scott_H Reader
12/7/20 9:34 a.m.

I have Paul Bunyon's axe.  No, really I do.  Yes, the handle has been replaced five times and the axe head replaced twice...

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