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Serial numbers and titles, doesn't seem right


MarrsCars
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I have an odd situation, I own a '62 Mercedes-Benz coupe and while a potential buyer was looking it over noticed that the VIN number on the title is not the full serial number, but rather the first half of the model number and the last half of the serial number (Chassis number specifically as stamped on the metal data tag). It essentially looks like this "220se56789" when the serial number might read as "123456789." (Not the actual numbers, just an example.) Naturally, I assumed this was an input error at the DMV when I bought it several years ago so we pulled the car and I waited a week to hear from the Oregon DMV. The gentleman who helped me, also a vintage car owner, said that he sees this all the time and it's common, expected, and even said it's correct. He said pre-VIN cars often use the model number and the serial number for the title designation. He knew a lot about my car generally and even the locations of the tags, so he knows old cars to a degree at least. He said he sees this on all types of vintage cars, and further said do not change the title, it's correct as it is, and good luck with my sale. It just doesn't seem right tho? 

 

Oddly he told me that the car has always had this as it's title number when the original owner in California had it, and when they sold it to the dealer here in Oregon that I bought it from, there was a VIN inspection done by the DMV as noted on his record. I have never heard of a Title VIN for a vintage car being listed with half model number and half serial number. Can anyone shed some light here? Also, how could this pass through the DMV, dealer, owner, and a VIN inspection if it is in fact incorrect? Can this guy be right? Thanks much, I just want this to get sorted before we offer it again so there's no delays for the eventual buyer or problems when he tries to register it.

 

 

Edited by MarrsCars (see edit history)
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Prior to the standardization of VIN format, any number of non-standard formats were used. I have no experience with Mercedes VINs, but GM VINs from 1965-on used the model number in the first half of the VIN and a sequential serial number in the last half. It almost sounds like the DMV that originally titled the car tried to make something conform with their "known" format.

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It'll vary by state. Here in PA I've bought several out of state old cars and all I need to do is bring in a rubbing of whatever number is on the out of state title. These have been 1960s cars mostly with the old format, but still just one number from one tag. I'd imagine if I were to buy your car I'd need to get that sorted out, but in other states it probably won't matter at all. When I moved to GA they wouldn't even issue a title for cars over 25 years old.

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There is so much idle speculation in some of these responses that providing sound counsel is difficult. Prior to our current VIN system many cars were registered/titled with many different combinations of numbers including engine number(very popular), body number, construed combinations (such as offered by the OP) or even the full chassis number.  To be considerate of your heirs, or even of yourself if you think you might sell the car during your lifetime, it would behoove you to contact your state's DMV (or equivalent) and inquire about what is necessary to correct an identification number.  This will usually require a personal inspection by a DMV inspector or member of the state police, but if your documents are in order a new registration/title sporting the proper numbers will be quickly issued. Since you, not your wife, girlfriend, or children, know more about your car's history than anyone else, I urge you confront this task immediately.  If you don't, at the time of sale either the lawyer's fees will be huge to correct the title or the proceeds will be greatly reduced due to the numeric inconsistency. 

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I had difficulty helping a friend who is in the Navy & brought back an Innocenti Mini. 1973 but the serial number was only six digits and there was no VIN. Took nearly six months and only possible under some provisions in Florida law for returning Floridian servicemen.

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15 hours ago, ejboyd5 said:

There is so much idle speculation in some of these responses that providing sound counsel is difficult. Prior to our current VIN system many cars were registered/titled with many different combinations of numbers including engine number(very popular), body number, construed combinations (such as offered by the OP) or even the full chassis number.  To be considerate of your heirs, or even of yourself if you think you might sell the car during your lifetime, it would behoove you to contact your state's DMV (or equivalent) and inquire about what is necessary to correct an identification number.  This will usually require a personal inspection by a DMV inspector or member of the state police, but if your documents are in order a new registration/title sporting the proper numbers will be quickly issued. Since you, not your wife, girlfriend, or children, know more about your car's history than anyone else, I urge you confront this task immediately.  If you don't, at the time of sale either the lawyer's fees will be huge to correct the title or the proceeds will be greatly reduced due to the numeric inconsistency. 

 

This is closer to my thinking. Maybe the "VIN" is technically correct as listed but I want any future transactions to be trouble free. Thank you. 

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I think there is an expectation on the part of the California DMV, where the OP's car was first registered, that the VIN should tell you the model.

 

The year and the make is specified elsewhere on the title. With some manufactures the model is baked in to the chassis number, with others it is not.

 

With my dad's 1964 Dodge pickup the chassis number starts with 118 telling you it is a 2WD, 1/2 ton, V8 pickup. It is a 10 digit chassis number that is also used as the VIN.

 

With my '67 Alfa the chassis number is only 6 digits and does not tell you the model. So just using the chassis number as the VIN may present a problem. You could probably figure out the model given the chassis number, but it is not explicit. It's not like the first 3 digits of the chassis number correspond to a particular model.

 

Edited by mike6024 (see edit history)
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On 9/16/2019 at 10:06 AM, Vila said:

If your state accepts it as is then what's the issue?

 

 

An out of state buyer who was very interested and even paid for an inspection walked away because the VIN on the title didn't match the Chassis number that is used as a serial number/VIN on vintage Mercedes cars. I want to avoid that if another out-of-state buyer is interested. I've been told both that it will be no problem, and also that it would be a huge problem, if a buyer in another state tried to register it there and the VIN on the title doesn't actually appear on the car anywhere. 

To reiterate, the VIN on the title is made up from the model number and the last half of the serial number that's stamped on the core support plate. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Thanks to all, in the end I decided to forgo any chance of problems for any future buyers and simple had a new VIN inspection done to correct the title to reflect the Serial Number as stamped. Was no problem to have done. I did find out that the dealer I bought the car from about 8-years ago put three different VIN numbers on the various paperwork and did his own VIN inspection. They entered plenty of notes on the correction so everything is good now. 

 

i will say that the DMV still suggested I leave it alone as it was acceptable in Oregon and oddly California, but that just doesn't carry weight in most other states. The ways we do things out here in the Wild Wild West doesn't always translate in the more "by the books" states. 

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