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DMV - Department of Motor Vehicles - Online directory of state DMV web sites with comprehensive guide to Department of Motor Vehicle services including driving records, vin numbers, registration, licenses, and forms. AMC Other Brougham Hardtop 1973, Ambassador 2 door , with 360 cubic inch Please click here if you are not redirected within a few seconds. The joy of buying a vintage Mustang is not something you’d think you want to bring a lawyer into, but as with any significant purchase it’s better to be safe than sorry. Bryan Shook prosecutes cases on collector cars from his office in Camp Hill, Pennsylvania, 15 miles from Carlisle, site of the Carlisle Ford Nationals, and tells us that as prices of classic Mustangs have soared, lawsuits have escalated. These engine codes cut down on the number of lawsuits with Mustangs, where matching numbers is not nearly so important. Shook told us that probably 90 percent of those problems could be nipped in the bud with a good contract—a bill of sale—between the two parties.He gave us a typical scenario in the hobby and we’ve heard similar conversations on deals going down. Cutting out a VIN is not an easy job, but people do save these parts of a rusted out car when they re-body. More than likely, the buyer and seller would also schedule a due diligence period and hire an inspector to look over the property. Shook said, “I think the common thread here is with our business man’s hat on we’re going to pay attention to details. But, with our hobbyist’s hat on, for some reason, we dispense with all details and all formalities and we just go at it like we’re buying apples at a farmer’s market.” In other words, buying property is a business decision, whereas buying a car is all about emotion and excitement, and sometimes that can come back to bite you.But, isn’t a formal contract on a simple car sale a little far-fetched? What’s wrong with a buyer handing over money and the seller delivering the car and a signed title? Then, down the road the buyer discovers that the Mustang did not come from the factory with a 428 Cobra Jet. A simple contract would have helped the buyer to make a claim.”In other words, how else is a buyer going to make a claim against the purchase of a car without showing that the CJ engine or the Mach 1 package, or any other feature of the car was special to the sale? The fifth digit of a ’64?-’73 Mustang VIN codes the engine and cuts down on the number of lawsuits with Mustangs, where “matching numbers” is not nearly so important.


Therefore, with Mustangs, lawsuits center more on validity of the VIN.Shook sent this sample bill of sale he uses when his client is the buyer. The language brings up many details to resolve what in Shook’s experience could cause a problem later and lead to a lawsuit. These trim plates often get lost, or an owner can legally make a new one.Your author remembers photographing a ’69 Mustang 428 Cobra Jet convertible 25 years ago. About 10 years after that shoot, I heard through the Mustang grapevine the fifth digit of the VIN on this very valuable car had been altered from an F-code (302) to an R-code (428 Cobra Jet). Apparently, a crafty person had added a “leg” to the F to appear as an R.Today, no smart person would add a leg to an F to create an R in a VIN on a ’67 and later Mustang because the hobby has access to the Ford database of VINs through Kevin Marti. When this database did become available, a computer check revealed there was no such VIN with an R in the fifth digit of the above car.
A reader emailed, “I have seen many cars that could not be repaired so a donor car was used. What does the law say about this?” A fender does not contain the VIN stamped in various indestructible locations on a Mustang. A restorer might replace the body, which on Mustangs is unitized with the frame, but he will have to cut out the VIN, stamped in metal, from that old Mustang, to insert into the donor body.Another issue is the hidden VIN locations the manufacturer places on a Mustang for law enforcement use. Tracing a title back to past owners to substantiate a car’s provenance can flush out re-bodied cars.
Since the re-bodied car uses the VIN from the severely damaged vehicle, a title search can lead to a past owner who tells the truth, “Oh, that thing was rusted beyond repair,” or “that fastback was hit so bad we had to put on a front clip.” But, the current owner can see no evidence of body damage or bodywork done?
Did the local police supervise the re-body and make the process legal?Other people commit out and out fraud when they alter a VIN on a Mustang.
Tracing titles of these cars often leads to states such as Alabama or Georgia, where the DMV registers cars without formal evidence of ownership, i.e. Maine is another state with loose title restrictions, along with other states in New England.Shook attributes over 90 percent of lawsuits come from a person buying a car and finding out later the car was not what he or she bargained for.


A contract between buyer and seller will help solve most problems that might lead to a lawsuit.Therefore, with Mustangs, a lawsuit issue centers more on the validity of the VIN.
Or a restorer gets a VIN for a Mustang from a title to a car that has been destroyed, then he builds a car “out of thin air.”“You can just say you own the car and your proof to the DMV can be a bill of sale,” Shook said. A hobbyist can build a $100,000 Mustang for $35,000.“We always talk about the buyer protecting himself with a contract. I think the other side is that sellers ought to want contracts, too, on their side.” This contract protects the seller and the buyer. A contract in the car hobby can be as simple as a bill of sale.Incredibly, car hobbyists exchange hundreds of thousands of dollars with no written contract.
Therefore, their agreements are open to many questions that can lead to problems and lawsuits. Rick Parker of Signature Auto Classics in Columbus, Ohio, weighed in on one big reason why.
Number one, Shook says, is “unsubstantiated claims.”“So if you are a seller and you’ve got a car that doesn’t have documentation, but it was sold to you as a CJ, or whatever the case may be. It doesn’t have any documentation and you then turn around and re-sell the same way you bought it, and make the same claims. That’s how those lawsuits start.” In other words, mistakes perpetuate themselves from one owner to the next.
Unrevealed Ownership InterestShook attributes 10 percent or less of lawsuits on Mustangs to “unrevealed ownership interest.” What is this? You buy the car from who you think is the owner, except the partner comes in and claims you owe him money for his interest in the car.” A bill of sale rescues with language such as “full legal and lawful title” to the vehicle.



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