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Thread: Frame Change and VIN - How does it work?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2021
    SF Bay Area

    Default Frame Change and VIN - How does it work?

    So, when I bought my 1973 Series 3 a few months ago, I had it shipped from Chicago to the Bay Area in California. Because it was "out of state", I had to do all kinds of nonsense at the DMV...including getting an official weighmaster to certify the weight of the car on commercial scales...and the local DMV wouldn't look at the VIN number because it wasn't the sticker kind on the doorjamb (a feature that only appeared in >1980). Their papers said a cop could confirm my VIN, but when I waited at the local police station for a VIN verification - the cop said that the California Highway Patrol has put out a bulletin that ONLY THEY can perform the VIN Verification in this case. Okay, so I called the CHP and they were backed up for 2 months, and only 1 officer did the verification and they only work on that from 10am to 2pm...with a lunch hour in there, to boot. Needless to say, it was a pain in the a@$ to finally get the car registered. It took me a whole 3 months and 5 visits all around town to various people. The VIN/Serial number was clearly on the little tin plate, and also confirmed on the right front spring hanger on the frame. Also, the CHP acted like they had some secret knowledge about the frame location - and told me I wasn't supposed to know about that!? Of course, they went inside and Googled it like the rest of us. So, I finally got it registered after much pain.

    Well, recently I have been looking at those nice galvanized frames people sell (including our hosts). After all that painful process, I'm wondering what people do about their Serial Number/VIN in these cases? I know the CHP offers to stamp a new number for you on any new frame...and I guess you have to show them proof you've destroyed the original frame (cut it up, etc). So, that has me thinking...what about the connection back to the records? Does that just also break any way of tracing back the car to the factory? I went ahead and paid the British Automotive Museum for one of those VIN number lookups and got a nice certificate with some information about my truck off the factory line. Does that all just go up in the wind as soon as you change a frame?

    Another detail I noticed on my truck is that the frame had been cut and re-welded at the front right (and other places). Clearly, the previous owner did some repairs, and I suspect they kept the bit of the frame with the Serial Number for this very reason! But, if I were to get a new galvanized frame...there's no way I'd do that(cut a new galvy frame and weld the old rusty spring hanger back on).

    Any experience people might have would be entertaining and informative. Looking forward to a reply.

    I'm not expecting to have a concourse restoration job with all matching numbers...but, I would like to keep at least some history of the car. I'm just curious how it all works.
    ...d ..__ ......... |... | ..__....p
    └/ | \────┴──┴/ | \─┘≡

    1973 Series 3, 109

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2020


    I am interested in your issues with registration. Here in the UK you can fit a new frame and keep the original registration and need to stamp the original VIN on the new frame. The vehicle is just treated as a repaired vehicle and keeps its identity. What you cannot do is fit a used frame from another vehicle as the frame determines the identity , so you are making one vehicle out of two so it looses its unique identity and creates all sorts of problems.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2006


    Exactly what roverp480 said.

    When I registered my restored (and re-framed) 1971, it was not yet 25 years old at that time. I had to jump through similar hoops- the VIN not having enough digits for their liking etc., but no mention of the VIN on the frame (or not).

    The kicker was, after a signed letter from the prior owner stating he didn't own it (no title available) I had to get a "state assigned ID number" for the vehicle. Went to do that, and the "assigned" number was whatever I wanted it to be... (still amazed by that) so I chose the VIN number, which was added to a sticker via typewriter and then stuck on my door jam. $50 and done.

    That truck is now gone, but the bottom line is that the DMV employees are not familiar with their own procedures, nor the DOT exemptions that come along with vehicles over 25 years old. In your case, with an "antique" vehicle, you don't have to comply with the laws in place in 2023, but you do have to comply with the laws in place in 1973.

    In this age of litigation, I'm surprised there are not a flock of lawyers assisting these procedures...
    Owner: James Leach Global Expedition Services.

    1995 110 Regular

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