A Tale of Two Tags

A caveat for purist restorers, or a “Tale of Two Tags”. I have just learned, very nearly the hard way, that one can go overboard and illegal in the process of creating the “perfect restoration”. In the course of restoring “Tar Baby” to as close to as original as possible, my eye was offended by the scruffy, scratched VIN plate attached to the right wheel well. No problem; buy a blank from Moss (or VicBrit) and have it engraved to match (even to the misaligned #) and replace the offending member. Done and done 5 years and many trophies ago. Time passes, interest shifts to newly acquired MGC GT and Tar Baby goes to the auction block. There’s the rub, as the Bard would say. As part of the consignment process, I am stunned to learn that I have violated Federal law by tampering with the VIN plate. It turns out that VIN plates, regardless of condition, ARE SACRED. Thou shalt not mess with them!!! As a result, the auction house refused flatly to accept the car (after they had accepted my $500 consignment fee). About the only thing I did right was a) save the original plate with a photo of it in place and b) have the car fully state inspected (as opposed to antique registry) at purchase, and c) create and maintain a serious paper trail going back now 15 years.  All of the above was humbly submitted to the Montgomery County Auto Theft department as my offering for the VIN inspection process. I sweated out a 90 minute examination of the car and subsequent deliberation (as they did not find the confidential # stamping). In the end, I lucked out and they gave me a pass, which turned out to be acceptable to the auction house. The take away here is; if you’re considering replacing your VIN plate, DON’T. If you already have, you may want to visit your local law enfacement folks, with all the paper you have, to get an inspection/approval in advance of any anticipated sale.  From what I was told by the auction house and the county folks, VIN fraud is getting extremely common on antique/collectible cars such as ours, so scrutiny will only increase over time. In short, a bright, shiny brand new VIN plate will set off all sorts of alarms!!! Cheers!
Roger Sykes
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2 Responses to A Tale of Two Tags

  1. Redding Ron says:

    Roger glad to know the club now has an accomplished forger to add to our repatoir. We will have to watch you closely. What’s next? Chop shop? Ray Holtzapple cuts up a lot of cars!

  2. Isabel and Wayne Hardy says:

    And what’s even worse, in order to save the motor number tag from attack by caustic used in the engine cleanup process, I removed it too..but also saved it on my dresser all these 28 years to reinstall if ever the need came up. So far it hasn’t since I still drive the car.


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