syakoban

Selling a title - is it legal?

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The rosette rivets are plentiful in the market for switching tags. Did the older cars have screws to hold the vin plate in place.

Early corvettes have 2 screws, it takes about 1 minute to do the change.

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I have a 1934 Plymouth title for a car my late father-in-law junked in 1943, and also an original title of mine for a 1958 Buick.  That one was lost for years and we got a duplicate.  After several moves I came back across it.  I gave that car to my father-in-law and he later junked it in the woods behind the farm.  It could still be there for all I know.

 

The point of this is I thought about selling them. So, at the AACA General Meeting in Philadelphia we had a Seminar whereby a lawyer was one of the speakers.  I think it was about financial planning.  Anyway, I asked him about selling the titles, and is reply was that I'd better not, because if anything ever happened the paper trail could lead back to me, and I could be liable and then in a heap of trouble.  I'm not sure now if it would be legal or civil or both. But, long story short, I still have the titles and they are not for sale, barter or gifting.

 

That's all I know on the subject.

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I was raised in a culture that put a lot of emphasis on asking for forgiveness. It's worked out pretty good for me.

 

"Nel nome del Padre, e del Figlio, e dello Spirito Santo."

 

And practicing a real innocent look in the bathroom mirror every morning.

Bernie

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If you follow other forums there has been a lot of case law cited on the rosettes and on unattached vin plates - let's just say it doesn't always work out well. Google is your friend.

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1912Staver, many cars have hidden numbers. My Model A ford's have a chassis number stamped under the body, under the driver side cowl. You have to lift the body to see it. I am sure that Ford can't be the only company that concealed numbers.

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Later Austin Healey 3000s have a number under the left front shock. You have to remove the shock to see it

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There is USUALLY a legal way to get a car titled selling a title and vin tag should not be legal even for collectors. Its like machine gun collectors that have to register them and have a special license to own them and in some cases have them made unable to shoot by a certified gun smith. saying I am a collector does not give me or anyone else the right to do something we all know is morally wrong. I have seen people selling titles on craigslist and I will take the time to send an email to craigslist reporting them every time.

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Bottom line it is NOT illegal to sell titles. It is illegal to use them to perpetrate a fraud. Would I sell one, probably not. Would I buy one with a VIN and use it, not in a million years.

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Guys, it's  just about money!!!!!  I use to have a friend named B. Henderson who lives just north of Indianapolis and he restores early Corvettes.  On many occasions he has re- stamped the frame, had vin tags made and changed titles so he could sell a 1954 corvette which is worth in the 60's for a 1953 corvette worth in the 250,000's.  He has done this no less than 7 or 8 times and takes a restored 54 and modifies it to a 53.  This isn't a rant either, he has made a good living by taking titles and falsifying cars to sell.

 

Wow. What he's doing is incredibly illegal. That kind of fraud will expose him to both criminal and civil penalties and if someone figures out what he's done, he should probably expect to be sued back to the stone age before spending a few years in jail. Holy cow, I can't believe how illegal that is. One of Carroll Shelby's ventures went south because the company he was working with was moving VINs between cars, not to create value but simply so they could keep up with production (they were buying new Dynacorn bodies and putting scrapyard VINs on them). That company went out of business, the feds seized every car they had in inventory, and every car that they ever built was frozen and the owners couldn't get valid titles until it was sorted out. Google "Unique Performance" for all the sordid details, but this is a VERY big deal, not just, "Haha, those suckers should have done their homework." Caveat emptor will not protect you from this kind of serious fraud.

 

And this totally ignores the harm that it does to the hobby and collectors in general. You wonder why all the fun is missing from the hobby and why everyone's so concerned about documents and numbers and pedigrees? It's exactly this kind of nonsense that makes everyone guilty and nobody trusts anyone. Shame on him. I can't say enough unkind words about this kind of foolishness.

 

While I'm certain that there are guys who actually do collect titles because they like old documents, the fact that the guys who sell old titles are charging several hundred dollars per title suggests to me that the buyers are desperate enough to pay several hundred dollars, and it ain't for a "historical curiosity" they can hang on the wall...

 

In OP's case, I'd say that whatever money you think you'll make by selling this title/VIN tag won't be enough to get you out of trouble if the guy who buys it does something untoward with it. You may not be doing anything illegal (technically) but do you really want to hope the next guy doesn't and doesn't drag you into it? The money you get by selling it won't cover the potential headaches.

 

Short answer: Yes, you can sell an old title and it's legal. But doing so opens up all kinds of risks because in many cases, the people using old titles aren't doing scrupulous things with them. Proceed at your own peril.

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Wow. What he's doing is incredibly illegal. That kind of fraud will expose him to both criminal and civil penalties and if someone figures out what he's done, he should probably expect to be sued back to the stone age before spending a few years in jail. Holy cow, I can't believe how illegal that is. One of Carroll Shelby's ventures went south because the company he was working with was moving VINs between cars, not to create value but simply so they could keep up with production (they were buying new Dynacorn bodies and putting scrapyard VINs on them). That company went out of business, the feds seized every car they had in inventory, and every car that they ever built was frozen and the owners couldn't get valid titles until it was sorted out. Google "Unique Performance" for all the sordid details, but this is a VERY big deal, not just, "Haha, those suckers should have done their homework." Caveat emptor will not protect you from this kind of serious fraud.

 

And this totally ignores the harm that it does to the hobby and collectors in general. You wonder why all the fun is missing from the hobby and why everyone's so concerned about documents and numbers and pedigrees? It's exactly this kind of nonsense that makes everyone guilty and nobody trusts anyone. Shame on him. I can't say enough unkind words about this kind of foolishness.

 

While I'm certain that there are guys who actually do collect titles because they like old documents, the fact that the guys who sell old titles are charging several hundred dollars per title suggests to me that the buyers are desperate enough to pay several hundred dollars, and it ain't for a "historical curiosity" they can hang on the wall...

 

In OP's case, I'd say that whatever money you think you'll make by selling this title/VIN tag won't be enough to get you out of trouble if the guy who buys it does something untoward with it. You may not be doing anything illegal (technically) but do you really want to hope the next guy doesn't and doesn't drag you into it? The money you get by selling it won't cover the potential headaches.

 

Short answer: Yes, you can sell an old title and it's legal. But doing so opens up all kinds of risks because in many cases, the people using old titles aren't doing scrupulous things with them. Proceed at your own peril.

I agree with you 100%, but he has been doing this for at least the last 10 years. I honestly don't think anything will ever happen to him. The sad part is he is very talented, but uses his talent in the wrong way to get rich. If he is challenged he is like Donald Trump, and tells people they

are the bad ones. I moved on and walked away, life is to short, but I do feel guilty to the poor saps who think they are getting a deal and find out much later they have been duped.

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I'm surprised there are still so many neophytes in the vintage car hobby. As Roj pointed out, it's all about "MONEY".

I was involved pretty heavily in the Corvette world for about about 20 years. I owned about 50 different Corvettes during that time. I bought (and sold) cars I suspected had been re-stamped, cars I knew damn well had been re-stamped and even re-stamped a few of my own.

Now, before any of you with Victorian morals have a fainting spell, know this: According to most known judging standards re-stamping an engine block is a realistic and fair part of the restoration process. Trouble is, some people "forget" to mention the block has been re-stamped. Once the car changes hands a couple of times, who's to ever know, or in fact care? A numbers matching Corvette (or just about any other vintage car today) will always bring more "MONEY". There's that word again.

I can promise you this, if you were to round up every 1965 to 1967 Corvette on the globe today you'd find there are MANY more "original" big block cars out there than GM ever built. Oh, and they ALL have matching numbers. 

Problem is, they are all worth so much "MONEY" and each time the state collects tax on a $65,000 or $120,000 collector car, what do you think their motivation is to crack down on anyone over something as trivial as ethics? They're the government. They're motivated by "MONEY". If it's blatant and the police find out, I guess you're busted but most restorers in this business are top flight professionals at reproducing "original" cars. I consider myself an expert on vintage Corvettes, I've owned many, personally done my own frame off restorations, won many 1st place trophies, worked at GM for years, my credentials are hard to beat in this area. But if someone brought me a '67 big block, 4 speed tri-power Corvette that started life as a 250 hp 327 power glide car and it had been done properly, I would not be able to tell the difference. No one would. And if I paid $120,000 for that car in ten years it would be worth $180,000. As long as the numbers keep going up, nobody is going to care. If the car passes muster with the DMV, looks right, drives right, the market will be endless.  Just consider how many collector cars have headed over to Europe and Japan. They pay top dollar.

So jump from re-stamped engine blocks to re-titled cars....it's not that big of a leap. It's more common than most would believe, but all you have to do is watch eBay for any wrecked collector car that wasn't written off by an insurance company, been off the road for 20 years, owner still has title, VIN tag and a couple of rusty parts. They pop up pretty regular. If the year/make/model is desirable enough, "that" car will make an appearance back on the road somewhere.

So as far as Syakoban (the O.P.) selling his old title, there isn't a law in the land that will care. It's his to do with as he pleases. Sell it, burn it, install it on another '65 Mustang. No one will ever know, or care unless he tells them. $$$$

Edited by GregLaR (see edit history)

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I guess if someone stamps the WRONG number on the block that would be pretty easy to spot.  :lol: 

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Problem is, they are all worth so much "MONEY" and each time the state collects tax on a $65,000 or $120,000 collector car, what do you think their motivation is to crack down on anyone over something as trivial as ethics?

 

I thought the feds should have been pulled into the GM Cobalt key legal proceedings for apparently not taking due diligence to look into the background of the company they took over. And if they are collecting tax on a fraudulent deal,

ignorance on their part should not hold up in front of a judge, even their own.

 

Bernie

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You are right Bernie. Again, follow the money. 

Pay a fine. All is forgiven.

The Highway Patrol doesn't bust first time drunk drivers who blow the minimal limit because they're committed to keeping our highways safe. They do it because each one is worth $10-$15K in the system.....and everyone needs money. Especially the state.

Edited by GregLaR (see edit history)

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Back in the 1970s I purchased a 1951 Buick Special from the elderly lady in Baltimore who bought it new.  The VIN number was affixed to the cowl with screws.  DMV questioned it and found out that no type of rivit was used at that time.  Now, my 39 Buicks have the VIN number on the chassis rail near the battery, and a '35 Buick I once owned had it under the right front fender on the frame.  So, it is possible there was a second VIN number on that '51 Buick down on the frame and I didn't know it, but it is also possible that GM had only recently moved it to the firewall and hadn't thought much about it.  I don't know.

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It's about money and ethics. Selling a title for someone who collects titles because of a memory is not wrong. If you have bad intentions, yes it's wrong and illegal, but as we look around, there are good guys and ......

I came to this forum because guys truly love there cars, and that is what it is about. Help each other with issues on there cars and gain some friends, isn't that what it's all about.

post-139649-0-79623600-1451999011_thumb.

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Re stamping  blocks frames or anything else does nothing when manufactures records don’t jive with the vin. I have asked for and been given factory records on several GM cars that I provided the vin number for.  Even oldsmobile museum has a lot of the factory records and will take the time to verify vins.  

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Back to the original question, I think it really depends on the way one is going to display the item. In a picture frame with the title and VIN plate on a nice matted background it's probably OK. If the VIN plate is screwed to a car and the title is folded in a wallet or glove box, probably not.

 

It's kind of like a New York State thing called the LLC Loophole (Google it) where politicians get large multiple donations and claim not to have a clue where the money came from. Since I was 6 or 7 years old I've had a pretty good idea if what I was doing was right or wrong. It didn't take me very long to figure out if I thought I was doing something wrong and asked about it.... I was. At some point I knew it was better just to do and not ask. It's easier that way.

Bernie

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Think lawyers, salesmen, and politicos are the nattural butt of jokes. My favorite is "the only honest politician is one who stays bought".

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I have a car that are titled with the motor number.  If I put the motor in another car that has a title using the body number, technically I could have two different  titles for one car. By some of the comments above I could be committing a crime by switching a car's serial number.

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I have a car that are titled with the motor number.  If I put the motor in another car that has a title using the body number, technically I could have two different  titles for one car. By some of the comments above I could be committing a crime by switching a car's serial number.

 

What is your intent? If your intent was to take a car without a title and switch the numbers around so you can use another car's VIN plate and title, then yes, you're committed a crime.

 

If you've swapped an engine into a car that already has a title because you wanted to swap the engine and you aren't trying to title it by using that engine number, you have not committed a crime.

 

Selling an old title for $450 is not a crime, but I bet the guy paying $450 for an old title is about to commit one...

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Actually the DMV is not as difficult to work with as some think.  It does take patience and persistence and a few fees here and there.  Breaking it down, first the main purpose of a title is proof of ownership.  Official titles take the questions out of any arguments.  Second it's protection to the buyer that a manufacturer actually made this car and meets the standards of the day.  Simply selling the title to someone will not be official.  At some point it would have to be transferred to the new owner and the state issues a new title.  At that point both parties can fraudulently represent the current vehicle as a different one.  The problem comes when it may be sold to a third party.  However, if there is full disclosure, is there a problem?  If it was stolen then someone is trying to cover the trail.  If it's not stolen and is just a case of someone trying to restore some abandoned hulk (proven not to be stolen), there is really no reason to switch VINs.  There is a process to create titles for vehicles.  This process maintains the disclosure.  For years bringing cars in from out of state went through the process.  Re-construction process requires some original VIN is used but also requires a final mechanical inspection to ensure road-worthiness.   This last process won't fit well for someone "recreating" a vehicle by acquiring a frame here, some axles over there, etc.  It's more appropriate for current vehicles.  By and large I don't see too many cases these days where someone is putting a car together by gather pieces and hardly would be possible with anything but a very old vehicle.  Perhaps for such instances The DMV process could be more accommodating considering the intent, which is a hobby car, but it is possible and should give some future buyer full disclosure.

 

Or does it?  Back in the Eighties my father went through the process of creating a title for is 24 Ford which had been modified into a farm tractor.  The only thing left was the frame, front axle and engine/transmission.  By using the engine number, he got PA to issue him a title after many back and forths.  I just transferred it into my name and it looks like a normal title.  I don't know how difficult it is today, but I'm sure if you just stick with it and be patient, you can re-title.  Of course older cars are easier since identification systems were far from standard.  However, there should be a way to title a thirty or forty year old vehicle where the title is lost.  I've seen ads for such services with a $300 price tag.  High? perhaps but may be worth it.  I'm sure the process is mostly verifying that nothing is stolen.  Most of the databases don't go back that far so what can they search?  

 

Recently I scrapped a rusty hulk that I had received from my neighbor (25 years ago) that had just purchased a junkyard.  He offered it to me for free and asked that I just don't leave it on the street some day.  We both assumed that the previous owner of the the junkyard certified it as junk.  Knowing I needed a title to scrap it now I relayed the story to the DMV requesting direction.  I got the standard reply, pay the fee to learn the last owner of record and then ask them to sign off on the process to send a new copy of the title.  They wouldn't even check to see if it was either already junk status of that it was even in the system.  That was by email.  In person may have gone better.  I've heard that police can verify some of that for you.  However, the recycler said he is covered if I cut the car in half, which I did.  However, suppose I decided to restore same vehicle and it's either not in the system or the last owner can not be located?  Then it's off to those third party services or some cases you can have someone out of state create a bill of sale and you can bring it in.  You really don't need any old registrations because the state doesn't even look at them.

 

So I've talked around in circles.  My point is there is some need for a way to plead your case to the DMV.  Perhaps there is, you just have to take the time to find it and be patient.  However, I do question whether all process give a later buyer full disclosure of the history, which should be present.

 

BTW, I also transferred my dad's 15 Ford title over to me.  Of course the old antique title looked different than the current ones.  The title indicated that the year of manufacture was 8/8/40.  The notary service advised letting that go until after the titles were transferred.  I did the actual transfer at the DMV and the clerk simply wrote in 15.  That's right all of the titles used only a two digit year.  Not sure where the 8/8/40 came from.  Dad bought the car in 1935 but the clerk noted that it would have been eligible for antique plates in 1940.  Did they have antique plates in PA in 1940?  The clerk only knew that the DMV didn't exist then.   Now that I think of it, that might have been the time he settle back in PA for good.  I think you got the purple plate in 1965 with it's three digit number.

 

When you ask for something that is not normal, some bureaucrats say it can't be done.  Don't quit.  Try someone else.  They may be more helpful, but always do it in person.

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I have a 1918 McLaughlin  E - 6 - 45. It has a McLaughlin motors tag with a serial #. It is a somewhat flimsy aluminum tag that nails to the floorboards near the shift lever, and is often missing or badly corroded on several of the McLaughlin's I have seen. There is the standard brass oval Buick frame number tag attached to the LH. front frame horn. These are also often missing as they are secured with very small screws or rivets which corrode away to the point of letting the tag fall off.  Finally there is the Buick engine number; this is in large font , distinctly stamped into the aluminum crankcase.

  All 3 numbers are different right from the factory, and any one of them might be the number the car is registered by.  In the case of these cars the engine number is the one that is most likely to survive {the only one of the 3 that is stamped right in rather than on a tag}, but it is also the one most likely to be replaced over the service life of the car.

  All of this can give the 21 st century restorer trouble. Try telling a DMV. employee there are 3 serial numbers but none of them are ever the same.

 

Greg in Canada

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Actually the DMV is not as difficult to work with as some think.  It does take patience and persistence and a few fees here and there.  Breaking it down, first the main purpose of a title is proof of ownership.  Official titles take the questions out of any arguments.  Second it's protection to the buyer that a manufacturer actually made this car and meets the standards of the day.  Simply selling the title to someone will not be official.  At some point it would have to be transferred to the new owner and the state issues a new title.  At that point both parties can fraudulently represent the current vehicle as a different one.  The problem comes when it may be sold to a third party.  However, if there is full disclosure, is there a problem?  If it was stolen then someone is trying to cover the trail.  If it's not stolen and is just a case of someone trying to restore some abandoned hulk (proven not to be stolen), there is really no reason to switch VINs.  There is a process to create titles for vehicles.  This process maintains the disclosure.  For years bringing cars in from out of state went through the process.  Re-construction process requires some original VIN is used but also requires a final mechanical inspection to ensure road-worthiness.   This last process won't fit well for someone "recreating" a vehicle by acquiring a frame here, some axles over there, etc.  It's more appropriate for current vehicles.  By and large I don't see too many cases these days where someone is putting a car together by gather pieces and hardly would be possible with anything but a very old vehicle.  Perhaps for such instances The DMV process could be more accommodating considering the intent, which is a hobby car, but it is possible and should give some future buyer full disclosure.

 

Or does it?  Back in the Eighties my father went through the process of creating a title for is 24 Ford which had been modified into a farm tractor.  The only thing left was the frame, front axle and engine/transmission.  By using the engine number, he got PA to issue him a title after many back and forths.  I just transferred it into my name and it looks like a normal title.  I don't know how difficult it is today, but I'm sure if you just stick with it and be patient, you can re-title.  Of course older cars are easier since identification systems were far from standard.  However, there should be a way to title a thirty or forty year old vehicle where the title is lost.  I've seen ads for such services with a $300 price tag.  High? perhaps but may be worth it.  I'm sure the process is mostly verifying that nothing is stolen.  Most of the databases don't go back that far so what can they search?  

 

Recently I scrapped a rusty hulk that I had received from my neighbor (25 years ago) that had just purchased a junkyard.  He offered it to me for free and asked that I just don't leave it on the street some day.  We both assumed that the previous owner of the the junkyard certified it as junk.  Knowing I needed a title to scrap it now I relayed the story to the DMV requesting direction.  I got the standard reply, pay the fee to learn the last owner of record and then ask them to sign off on the process to send a new copy of the title.  They wouldn't even check to see if it was either already junk status of that it was even in the system.  That was by email.  In person may have gone better.  I've heard that police can verify some of that for you.  However, the recycler said he is covered if I cut the car in half, which I did.  However, suppose I decided to restore same vehicle and it's either not in the system or the last owner can not be located?  Then it's off to those third party services or some cases you can have someone out of state create a bill of sale and you can bring it in.  You really don't need any old registrations because the state doesn't even look at them.

 

So I've talked around in circles.  My point is there is some need for a way to plead your case to the DMV.  Perhaps there is, you just have to take the time to find it and be patient.  However, I do question whether all process give a later buyer full disclosure of the history, which should be present.

 

BTW, I also transferred my dad's 15 Ford title over to me.  Of course the old antique title looked different than the current ones.  The title indicated that the year of manufacture was 8/8/40.  The notary service advised letting that go until after the titles were transferred.  I did the actual transfer at the DMV and the clerk simply wrote in 15.  That's right all of the titles used only a two digit year.  Not sure where the 8/8/40 came from.  Dad bought the car in 1935 but the clerk noted that it would have been eligible for antique plates in 1940.  Did they have antique plates in PA in 1940?  The clerk only knew that the DMV didn't exist then.   Now that I think of it, that might have been the time he settle back in PA for good.  I think you got the purple plate in 1965 with it's three digit number.

 

When you ask for something that is not normal, some bureaucrats say it can't be done.  Don't quit.  Try someone else They may be more helpful, but always do it in person.

You find that your scenario of generating a title for a car in PA no longer works. The ONLY way that works in PA now is to pay a lawyer and petition the courts for a "Court Directed Title". Figure $5-700 and 6 months to a year of legal fiddling around.

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