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VIN plate rivits??


cobravii
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I will be soon removing the body to sand blast/soda blast before starting on the body work. I am concerned about the VIN tags getting damaged during the process and I am considering removing them (along with everything else that's bolted down) but before I do that I want to make sure of what kind of rivits I can use to re-attach as well where can I buy them?

I would of course photo document the wole process just in case there is ever any question down the road.

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Y'all might be different in this regard to us in the USA, with all due respects, BUT removing a manufacturer-affixed VIN plate from a vehicle, even for the purposes you mention, is highly illegal--period. Not to say that some might have sneaked around, under cover of darkness, in a highly secretive location to do such over the years. For a vehicle of the model year you describe, the vehicle is "defined by the VIN plate", unlike prior to the 1955 era where the vehicle was "defined by the motor number", for legal titleing purposes.

Not only are there stolen car concerns, but also other issues with "clones" which might be changed into "valid" musclecars by the swapping of VIN and/or "data" plates.

About 20 years ago, a DFW-area Mustang restoration shop was raided by the Texas Stolen Vehicle Taskforce. On the property was a Mustang race car--with the VIN plate removed as it had been converted to "race-only" use and the desire was for it not to be street-legal. Also, the shop had carefully removed the VIN plate of another Mustang so they could paint under it, doing a factory-style restoratation of that particular vehicle, with no illegal intents, to be reinstalled later on, with new rivets.

The shop owner and the vehicle owners had to jump through some pretty big hoops to prove themselves innocent of any wrongful intent regarding the VIN plates. Until such proof was received and verified, the particular vehicles were confiscated. The vehicle under restoration was cleared, but the race car was destroyed.

In other words, it was a huge amount of effort to prove there was no wrong-doing in what was being done . . . ALL on the backs of the shop owner and the vehicle owners. Not quite the "Innocent until proven guilty" scenario our justice system is allegedly based upon. In the law enforcement orientation, the removal of the VIN plate was proof that a chop-shop might have been in operation, disguised as a reputable vehicle repair/restoration facility. Even possession of reproduction (or similar to reproduction) rivets might be just enough to prove "intent".

Now . . . if you're going to do a media blasting approach to stripping the body of prior paint, that can be a really huge undertaking. Plus one that can take much longer to clean up after (outside AND inside the vehicle!) than you might suspect. Still, though, putting some thick protective layering over the VIN plate (as Roberta mentioned) would preserve the integrity of the manufacturer-affixed VIN items. Plus, you can use a more careful aiming of the media nozzle such that some of the existing paint might be feathered near the plate rather than blasting right up to the edge of it, which can then be carefully repainted/refinished.

In the case of re-engined older vehicles, which are defined by the "motor number", when and if the motor might have been changed, the states usually have some official paperwork to be filed in these cases, such that current registration is on record. In the case of street-rods and such, a designated State operative will have to inspect the vehicle (initially, for titling purposes, not safety reasons per se) and will then affix an official registration number to the vehicle/engine. With newer vehicles, whose identity is defined by the VIN itself, no issues with changing engines . . . other possibly than for emissions/inspection reasons.

Just some thoughts,

NTX5467

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its an older car

its restoration

call the state trooper or providence inspector

we all have them and let him know what you are going to do

it is not a big of deal as everyone makes it out to be

i worked for a body shop and they used to come and put them back on

sometimes they would just fall off when working on them

and if you look they can now be sold on ebay leagaly as well

vin tags with the title

or simply ask a body shop nearby and see what they do

Greg

Edited by wildcat1562 (see edit history)
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With all due respect, the age of the vehicle is not important as older vehicles can be stolen and cut up just as newer ones can. The fact it's a full-size Buick rather than a more desireable Skylark GS 401 might make a difference to some of us, but not with legality issues.

As there appears to be no "intent" to do wrong, that might allow your state DMV operatives to work with you to achieve your desired result. It will be the owner's duty to prove "no intent", though. Still, though, if any suspicion might be raised (justified or not), it might turn into a "really big deal", which would not be worth the whole plate removal situation. A VIN rivet that falls off from hidden corrosion is different than one willfully removed by someone.

A later issue might be that IF the new rivets do not exactly match (or look "new") the OEM production ones, AND the new prospective owner catches and keys on that minor detail, it can raise issues as to just what has been done to the vehicle. If the vehicle being considered was stolen somewhere and a different VIN plate attached to it (which can usually be verified with the other VIN stampings that are in many other places on the vehicle--somewhat hidden, unless you know where to look), for example. Again, the owner's duty to prove what was done--before and after pictures, in depth and many of them, can possibly serve as documentation in this situation.

Before you might "cold call" the body shop(s) in your area, you might find a friend that might know the owner/operator of one so that you might have some additional credibility that everything you propose is above board. In other words, someone to vouch for you to the people you'll be asking questions of. If any of them might "run backwards", that mgiht be their answer to wanting to be involved in what you might propose. Asking the same questions of a DMV operative might be problematic as how THEY hear what you are saying can depend upon many factors . . . that day. Making a good first impression can be very good to do!

I might be looking at worst case scenarios in this situation (i.e., "too deep" or "too much"), but with a possible "gray area" of the hobby . . . which can be highly variable in some situations from state-to-state or country-to-country . . . BUT knowing full well that you might be stepping off into something which can be controversial (or worse) and pose some legal issues as well, might determine how the desired resuilt might be better reached OR if the desired result might be worth the effort to get there.

I heard many corroborating stories of what happened at the Mustang shop--and it was not pretty. No more removing any riveted, manufacturer-affixed plates for them, understandably. Be that as it may.

Respectfully,

NTX5467

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Somehow I don't think the "authorities" are all that interested in going after someone who removes a VIN tag from their own vehicle so as to do a proper job of painting and then reattaches the tag. Heck, I once even removed the "Do Not Remove" tag from a mattress. What if that area of the vehicle was seriously damaged in an accident?

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There was a show on one of the high-definition car shows (way high on the tv "dial") that was following Wayne Carini (a high dollar auto restorer) at an auction in, I believe California where the sheriff department came out and was checking VIN numbers against the titles of the cars for sale. Some of the cars had their VIN tags removed in the course of the restorations. The sheriffs halted the auction and were threatening to impound the cars. These were VERY expensive collector cars. The tv program showed some of the examples of screwed on and pop riveted tags, all of which were under suspicion. I have seen some cars with some sort of pookie over top of the rivets from the factory. Also, I believe most cars had painted VIN tags anyway since they were installed before paint. I would personally leave it on and put a couple of layers of duct tape or similar protection during the blasting process just to be safe. Even rounded non pop rivets that an Airstream supplier would sell wouldn't match the originals.

I believe that tv show was called "Chasing Classics" if you want to check old episodes out.

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I have read excerpts from several state codes re VIN tag removal. All that I have seen say it is a crime to remove VIN tags as part of an illegal enterprise or to get around the law. I have not seen any that say it is illegal for a person to remove and reattach a VIN tag under any circumstances. If there is such a law I would like to see the quote, not just a paraphrase. By my reading, the Mustang case cited above revolved around the possibly illegal/haphazard use of the tags, not around the simple fact of their removal to facilitate restoration. An improperly reattached VIN certainly might arouse suspicion but that doesn't mean it's a crime.

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Guest 52buick72r

At least in the state of New York, "only the vehicle manufacturer or the state department of motor vehicles has the authority to legally remove a vehicle's VIN." Some states might be more liberal than others. This was clearly spelled out to us by NY detectives when we wrote about a 1970 'Cuda in the July 2006 issue of Hemmings Muscle Machines. What can happen - and eventually did in this case - is that the state then has the authority to re-VIN the car (often called a salvage VIN) which has stolen car implications; it effectively de-values a car in the eyes of many.

As far as I am aware, it is also illegal to sell a VIN - a rampant problem on the internet a few years ago when high-powered Mopar prices were through the roof - which is why eBay has policed their listings.

Either way, it's a very touchy subject. I might add that a well-trained DMV official (if your cars are inspected at a state-run DMV office) will easily be able to tell if the VIN was removed; with criminal intent or not, if it's in the books, leave it be.

In short, best to check your state records before progressing.

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The requirement for VINs is a Federal statute therefore I believe federal laws apply in this case and federal law is clear in exempting anyone not engaged in illegal activities. Out of curiosity I would like to see a state law more restrictive than the federal if there is one. At least for PA I can't find one. Might be there but so far I have not found it.

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So you are saying it is illegal to sell a firewall for repair purposes simply because it has a VIN? If the VIN is removed can the cowl then be sold? If so wouldn't this REQUIRE the seller to remove the VIN, thereby committing an illegal act? Are cars with damaged cowls or door jambs always scrapped in NY because it is both illegal to remove a VIN and/or sell one attached to a repair part? Sorry, it makes no sense to me. Perhaps you are confusing "removal and replacement" with "removal and subsequent reuse on another vehicle"?

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Kansas law requires the vin tag to attached with the orig ROSETTE RIVETS and if the tag has been removed and reattached in another manner then the state would have to research the vehicle and attach another plate and issue an amended title to the vehicle. The process can take several months and big bucks. A friend of mine had to go thru the process when he brought a Cadillac from Oklahoma to Kansas that had been restored and the vin tag removed and reattached with pop rivets. Quite a process.

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General Motors Service Parts Operations has replacement cowl panels (firewalls) available for a wide assortment of vehicles. The cowl panel is drilled for the attachment of VIN tags as the panel for service replacements are made from the same tooling as original equipment panels.

But, the VIN rivets are not available as a service replacement item. This was verified through an inquiry for a vehicle with a damaged panel. GM refers the call to the state motor vehicle department for wherever the inquiry was made.

At least in Michigan, the procedure is that the VIN tag is surrendered to the Secretary of State's office, and they have a replacement adhesive label made up which is affixed in the original VIN plate location by a agent of the department. The official rule is that once a VIN tag is removed, it cannot be reattached. And they have no rivets available to reattach it either.

This was the policy as of last year, your state may vary.

In the past, GM would upon a request backed up with forms filed by a dealership and a police agency make a replacement VIN tag and supply the rivets for reattachment. This was common practice for a vehicle that had been stolen and the plate removed and replaced with another one, thereby altering the VIN. I was involved in a couple of these cases in the 70's for theft target cars, Corvettes and Camaros and having to file the paperwork to get a replacement tag. At that time the tag replacement had to be witnessed by a LEO, even though it was installed by a dealership employee.

But we are talking about 1979 at the latest, a long time ago.

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Well, with all due respect, Federal law usually trumps state law . . . BUT it's not the Feds that issue license plates and vehicle titles for citizens, it's the states that do that (unless it might be for a USA Government-owned vehicle which will carry a special license plate and/or registration).

Where the Feds might become involved is that a Manufacturer's Statement of Origin can't be issued until the vehicle is known to meet all applicable Federal safety and emissions standards for the year of manufacture. It's the MSO document that the dealership receives from the manufacturer (after the vehicle is built and usually prior to its arrival at the dealership) and then uses for state licensing purposes. In some cases of high-profile collector cars, a dealer might leave the MSO "open" until the vehicle is sold, so that if another dealer might want it, the MSO won't be closed until the final and ultimate customer purchases the vehicle -- which can make the vehicle more valuable, for one reason of another, possibly guaranteeing that the vehicle really is "Zero miles".

A key word is "intent", whose definition has become quite broad in recent decades. For example, the accepted practice for people who'd discovered they'd had a little too much to drink after they'd started home was to pull over in a safe place and take a nap, especially in a rural area. If the cop came and awoke you, then that might be when a determination might be made as to "drunk in public" or to allow you to sleep it off in your car. That was before the MADD group came into prominence, though.

Now, the definition of "intent to drive drunk" is where the ignition keys might be. If they are in the ignition switch, with the engine turned off, that proves (in their eyes) "intent to drive", so that's a trip to jail and DWI charges (now, usually DUI). A cop told a friend (that usually pulled off of the road for a nap, in the non-metro area he lived in) to always pull the keys out and put them in the glove compartment so they would not be in the ignition switch. If they were not visible and in easy reach, they couldn't prove "intent", but might still do an intoxicated-in-public situation (with a much lesser fine and related issues!).

So, proving a lack of "intent to do anything illegal" is on the back of the citizen as the law enforcement operatives are prone to presume that if a VIN plate has been removed for any reason, some "intent to do something illegal" is an automatic response--which is valid and reasonable from their point of reference. Waving the Federal statute in their faces might only anger them, but that also makes it more important to be able to prove no "intent to do anything illegal" with a vehicle that the owner can produce valid and current registration documentation for. Then, if they desire, they can then inspect the vehicle in question and find enough other places on the body and frame where the complete or partial VIN might be stamped in the metal to satisfy their curiousity regarding the particular vehicle.

Going along with what GMPARTSMAN mentioned, if a speedometer head needed replacemednt under warranty or afterward, rather than having the particular unit repaired by a AC-Delco Approved Service Station, when a new speedometer head was installed, there was also a label to put on the vehicle that at the time the speedometer head (which reads 00000.0 miles) was installed, the known mileage at the time of replacement was ________._ miles. These labels were hidden in the GM Standard Parts Catalog, typically. Chrysler was similar, but usually had the label in the box with the new speedometer head. Mileage can be a determiner of vehicle value and also relates to manufacturer's basic warranty coverage (including extended warranties, now). When the newer electronic clusters are sent in for exchange, the VIN and mileage on the repair order have to be supplied so the replacement unit can be properly set-up prior to installation. Other vehicles hold the mileage in their ECMs, with other procedures involved when they are changed. Even replacement clusters from non-OEM sources need to have specific VIN and mileage inforrmation supplied before the exchange cluster can be shipped.

As for the vehicle's accumulated mileage, at least in Texas, after the vehicle reaches a certain age and mileage criteria, the indicated miles becomes less important for sales transaction forms. After that particular point, inaccurate mileage would not really affect the value of the vehicle as it would on a two year old vehicle, for example.

There is a reason that the later-model VIN plates have a black oxide-type coating on them, just as the screws which hold the speed cup housing to the back of the speedometer faceplate are similar . . . any activity to alter the factory-supplied condition will lead to the loss of gloss on the screws or VIN plate. The oxide-type coating can be wiped off, leaving bare metal behind if one is a little too agressive in cleaning the area at the base of the inner windshield, by observation. In later model years, they use an unusual font on the VIN plate.

In general, though, if you're going to remove ANY identifying body plate from a vehicle, it might be a good suggestion to take extensive pictures of the vehicle with the plate attached to it to prove where it came from. Even with a "film" camera rather than a digital one, too. This would be part of the citizen/owner being able to prove, with supporting title/registratioin documentation, that no illegal intent (as the Federal statute mentions) is involved in the particular situation. But the other situation is that if you can't find the exact rivets to reattach the VIN plate (for the model and year of the particular vehicle), it would be better to have a VIN plate that looked a little ragged than to have NO VIN plate at all or one that would be reattached in a manner as to raise suspicion somewhere later down the line. If the existing rivets might be fragile, take pains to leave them that way and not hasten their demise.

Your vehicle, your judgement call.

Regards,

NTX5467

Edited by NTX5467 (see edit history)
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I certainly agree that it is not a good idea to remove a VIN plate and there may be state law hoops to jump thru if you do but my point still stands. It was stated above that it is illegal to remove a VIN tag under any circumstance. It isn't, at least not under federal law.

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When I bought my 39 Chevy pick up it was disassembled. It had a title but the VIN tag was missing. I called the DOT and they said it was a valid title. I bought a blank VIN tag and stamped the VIN number on it with hand stamps just like the factory did and stuck it on the truck where it belonged.

So what's the big deal???????????????????...........Bob

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I just feel like complementing Restorer32 and Bhigdog for being the voices of reason in this thread. I think people are becoming a little paranoid about that 'eye in the sky' that is watching our every action. Unless you have some doubts about the history of a particular vehicle, or already have had it registered, I sure wouldn't worry about removing and reattaching the tag. I know replacement cowl trim tags and rivets can be purchased from A.G. Backeast, as advertised in the Buick Bugle. I wonder if the same rivets are used for VIN tags??

Bill

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Those rivets are sometimes called 'Rose' rivets because the head splits to look like rose petals. They are highly controversial, and often they are found being sold at swap meets and flea markets to shops using them for illegal purposes.

As others have said in here, DO NOT REMOVE THE PLATE!! If ANYONE suspects the plate has been removed and replaced, the authorities don't care why, your good intentions, or that you had no intent to deceive. We are living in a world where, if 1,000 people remove or reattach a VIN plate, 999 of them did it for illegal purposes. In other words, the authorities will treat you as if you are guilty until proven guilty if they find out you did it.

Do as Susan said; have them put a big piece of duct tape over it and go on!

Joe

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Just to make sure we are clear in here, some of the INDIVIDUAL POSTERS are advocating removing a VIN panel, or tag, and then reattaching it later.

This is NOT the policy of AACA to advocate doing this, and several other posters in here have clearly shown that doing it is likely to violate FEDERAL LAW, whether the intent was for illegal purposes or not.

So, if anyone is going to do it, do it at your own risk, but not with any implied consent of any legitimate car club or association.

ANOTHER consideration is the attempted bombing in Times Square. The 'alleged' bomber tried to remove the VIN from the 17-year-old SUV. So, now we have the removal of a VIN as another factor that may pique the interest of other Federal agencies. Does any car collector REALLY want to go there now?

Edited by Reatta Man (see edit history)
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The Vin tag on my '58 truck was hanging by 1 original rivet when I bought it. IT was DMV inspected and they said nothing about it. I then popped in a normal rivet in the other hole to keep from losing it myself.

Now, if the other "original" rivet decides to fail, then I will pop in another replacement rivet making it "appear" that the vin tag had been removed and reinstalled, yet it will have never left contact with the truck.

I guess I am on track to become a criminal and will soon be on the FBI's most wanted list.

Look for my picture at the post office. :)

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Just to make sure we are clear in here, some of the INDIVIDUAL POSTERS are advocating removing a VIN panel, or tag, and then reattaching it later.

This is NOT the policy of AACA to advocate doing this, and several other posters in here have clearly shown that doing it is likely to violate FEDERAL LAW, whether the intent was for illegal purposes or not.

So, if anyone is going to do it, do it at your own risk, but not with any implied consent of any legitimate car club or association.

ANOTHER consideration is the attempted bombing in Times Square. The 'alleged' bomber tried to remove the VIN from the 17-year-old SUV. So, now we have the removal of a VIN as another factor that may pique the interest of other Federal agencies. Does any car collector REALLY want to go there now?

Where do see any "implied consent" by anyone about anything. Not that anyone here COULD give consent, for most anything, in the first place. As for myself I'll continue to just boat happily along removing and replacing whatever parts of my cars that I need to and as long as I don't try to cheat someone or instigate a fraud I'm pretty sure neither my conscience or the Feds will be waking me up at 3 AM...................Bob

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Guest Swifster

The first thing that needs to be stated is that there was no such thing as a VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) until 1981. The plate on the car is a serial number plate. As mentioned the rosette rivets didn't start on GM cars until 1970. But the cowl tags used special rivets as well as different forms of attachment between different makes and models.

As an insurance adjuster, I've seen stolen cars recovered with missing serial number plates, or ones that had them replaced (wrong serial number). A couple years ago a '69 Cadillac DeVille convertible was stolen, repainted and retagged by the theives. There was a possibility of repairing the car. The question of what to do about the serial number tag. There is a place that will make them, and they will work on the up & up only. The local Sheriff's department was fine with this and so was the State of Florida, though the Sheriff and a state rep had to be on hand to watch the attachment. Some actually understand what a state issued serial number would do to the value and were willing to work with the owner.

In the end, the car was a total loss, and the owner didn't want to invest more money to fix it.

The tab that was spot welded to the hinge pillar of my Studebaker was about to fall off. I pulled it off so it wouldn't get lost. The cowl tag was attached with screws (from the factory). I have all the paperwork and documentation for the car if anyone asked. The pictures were taken every step of the way.

Keep in mind, that many cars of the 20's and 30's had serial numbers stamped on the frame. Frames are a service item. They still are. Some states titled cars with engine numbers. Engines are a service item. Dash boards and cowls get damaged and repaired or replaced. These parts thru some manufacturers are not serviced. GM is one of them. But in the 60's when the hinge pillar was replaced, the serial numbers were swapped.

Today, if a older car is hit where the serial number is attached, it'll need to be pulled if the panel is being replaced. No one will total a car because it needs a hinge pillar.

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