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Old 10-13-2007, 04:17 PM   #1 (permalink)
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I bought the car in my signature in California back in April. Although I'm an Arizona resident, I have a California title for the car in my name. Today I took it to the Arizona MVD to have it registered. The PO painted over the Federal VIN tag on the door, so the car had to go to a level 3 inspection behind closed doors. One hour later, I'm told that they cannnot find another VIN and to come back on a weekday. Also, the inspector wouldn't divulge the location of where the VINs are supposed to be. During the week the inspector can make some calls to figure out what to do. He's says it's looking like I might have to have a bonded title.

What other locations are there VINs besides dash and door jam for a '73?

I'm also afraid a bonded title will scare buyers off if I ever decide to sell the car in the future even though the car is solid.

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Old 10-13-2007, 05:17 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I live in Flagstaff, AZ and have a 1973 CJ convertible. There are three locations where the VIN is stamped into the car. The first is on top of the dash on the driver side. You can see this VIN by looking down at the dash, through the windshield, from outside the car. If this VIN isn't present, the other two require the removal of the front fenders, and the VIN is stamped on top of the inner front fender on both the right and left. I'm a bit suprised that the DMV doesn't know where to look for the VIN. Hope this helps, Russ
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Old 10-13-2007, 05:56 PM   #3 (permalink)
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They say they know where to look and the VINs aren't there. However, they wouldn't divulge the locations where they are searching. When I go back, I'll ask if that's where they are searching. Thanks for the help.

Edit: I called MVD and they confirmed that both fenders were removed and the VINs weren't there. Looks like I'll have a bonded title, even though I can't find evidence of any structural damage.
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Old 10-13-2007, 06:46 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Pop a fender loose and look for yourself. It will be on top of the shock tower just under the inner edge of the fender.
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Old 10-13-2007, 07:09 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Can you carefully use a little laquer thinner on a rag and clean the sticker off?

I wonder if Marti can make you a replacement sticker and just peel the old one off and put the new on then go back to the DMV.

Just throwing ideas out there.
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Old 10-13-2007, 08:19 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I wouldn't use lacquer thinner, but I might try some graffiti remover or goof-off
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Old 10-13-2007, 09:28 PM   #7 (permalink)
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2 things I have never seen;
1- a DMV official who knew anything about VIN locations on cars more than 20 years old, or that there even was any difference in where the VIN was stamped on cars over the years.
2- a DMV official who would admit he/she was wrong or didn't know something.

True story: about 15 years ago I took a '66 Fairlane I bought to the local DMV for a new title. The clerk told me I put an incorrect VIN on the transfer form and handed it back to me without even looking at the old title. I double checked the title, confirmed I wrote the VIN correctly, then asked her what was wrong? She told me there wasn't enough numbers there, I must have missed some when copying it onto the form. I showed her the title and mentioned I checked it against the VIN on the car myself before I drove it away from the seller, at which point she took the whole pile and swore there had to be an error on that title. She went into the back to show it to her supervisor. When she came back a few minutes later she just sat down and started typing, never once admitting she made a mistake or didn't know that in '66 the VIN didn't have as many digits.

As Bighorse said, pop a fender loose and look for yourself, don't take their word for it that they looked in the correct places. Even if they did look in the right place, on a 34 year car maybe dirt made the VIN illegible, or maybe the lighting wasn't very good and he just missed it, or maybe he just didn't feel like checking and had a cup of coffee while the new guy tried to see a tag under the fender without actually unbolting the fender.
Beyond this, I would call the PO and ask why the dash VIN is missing and if it's possible he still has the VIN plate (it's a bolt on part easily removable with the dash in '71-'73 cars). Secondly, I would take a rag lightly dipped in acetone and try to remove some of the paint off the door tag. If you can make any portion of it at all visible you can use the VIN you have off the old title to get a replacement tag from Marti. As long as there is some verification that the original tag is damaged and you are just trying to restore the correct data on the correct car Marti can provide a valid door tag for you. Once you have the new tag correctly positioned where the old tag was removed you can go back to get your title work done. If they ask you about I'd just say you carefully cleaned the paint off the tag, I wouldn't admit to replacing it. They can get kinda funny about that sort of thing. With a good VIN on the door tag matching the title to be reassigned the MVD shouldn't have a reason to place a bond on it. Personally, with all the fraud and scams surrounding classic cars these days I would go to great lengths to keep the title clean and free of notations like "bonded", "salvage", or "rebuilt". However, worst case is you do get a bonded title. Bonds are not permanent. It's simply insurance in case a previous owner turns up claiming your car is in fact his car with a fraudulent VIN to hide that it was stolen. Bonds are usually only good for 5 years, but can go longer in some cases. If you have to get a bonded title ask them how long the bond will be for, and more importantly, who pays for the bond fee! That fee might be reason enough by itself to do what's needed to avoid a bonded title!
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Old 10-13-2007, 09:55 PM   #8 (permalink)
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I'd be very surprised if they actually removed the fender to look for the VIN. Are they really going to spend the time to re-align a body panel? Bear in mind, too, that the stamping on the shock tower is a partial VIN. It will show the model year, the assembly plant, and the sequential unit number, omitting the body style and engine characters. It will be about halfway between the fender bolt holes and the outside edge of the shock tower and fender aprons.
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Old 10-13-2007, 10:07 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Arizona DMV is notorious for ineptitude. The legal VIN is the one on the dash. I sure wouldn't leave my car with them to remove the fenders. I've never heard of that. If your dash VIN isn't there, remove your own fenders and look.

When my friend took his GTCS down for a title change, the idiot inspector pulled on his fender and cracked the paint. She didn't believe the dash VIN and only the last number couldn't be seen on the fender. So, when we took my fastback down to be verified, we put it on the trailer and left both fenders off. Fortunately, we had the head inspector and he said only the dash VIN is needed and confirmed that it is the legal VIN. Unfortunately, he retired about two months later.
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Old 10-13-2007, 10:08 PM   #10 (permalink)
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there is no way they took the fenders off. when i changed my hardware on my front end it took me hours just to get the fenders off, after removing the grill and the front bumper and part of the headlight buckets. everything was frozen, for them to magically take the fenders off and put them on and maintain alignment is totally bs.
unless they had the car for like 2 days.
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Old 10-14-2007, 12:52 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Thanks for the input everyone, lots of good ideas. As for taking the fenders off, I do know this:

1. I pulled the car into a garage with lift.
2. I waited for 1.5 hours.
3. When I returned to the garage there was debris underneath the front tires.
4. The fender bolts had been loosened and both fenders are in slightly new postions. You can see the outlines of where the bolts used to be. Alignment still looks good with respect to hood and door.

It's possible that he started, but was unable to remove the fenders. I don't know how he plans on resolving this, but he wants me to come back on Friday. I'm not going to have time to pop off the fenders before then if it's that involved of a job.

I think he couldn't get the fenders off and wants me to come back to pay more money for a Level 3 inspection. This car is solid and I believe the front fenders are original. I will take them off myself before I agree to a bonded title. I'm also going to try removing the paint from the door jam. Is the tag on door or the body portion of the jam?
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Old 10-14-2007, 01:18 AM   #12 (permalink)
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There may be a VIN stamped on the left rear of the block. My 72 has the VIN stamped there. I can't remember if my 73 had VINs on the aprons under the fender, but I think so. As for using the dash VIN--what a joke, you can completely remove that VIN by just taking the dash pad off (the metal part of the dash comes out with it and the VIN).
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Old 10-14-2007, 02:48 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Have you checked to see if you still had your buck tag on the radiator support ? It should be
by the left headlight bucket on a 73, I have 2 Q
code coupes and they were both there. If you take
off the front tire you can take a wire brush to the inter fender right above the spindle, maybe
a litte towards the firewall and knock off the road grime and your vin should be there. you most likely wont be able to read it but you can fell
the dimples inthe sheet metal. If you need a pic
let me know ,I have a car apart and will get one for you if needed.
Jon & Donna
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Old 10-14-2007, 09:46 AM   #14 (permalink)
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Jon, I would like to see a photo of a VIN on the inner fender. Is it in the apron or the shock tower?
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Old 10-14-2007, 10:34 AM   #15 (permalink)
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I'd like to see the pic as well.
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