Originally Posted by Tanshanomi
It's not always that simple. In some states (including my home of Missouri), a VIN is only legal as long as the vehicle remains "substantially and recognizably" the same as manufactured. In other words, if it's a Suzuki 600 motorcycle, a cop better look at it and say, "Yea, that looks like a Suzuki 600 to me." Once you modify it to the point where it is no longer recognizable as the vehicle you started with (and changing the number of wheels is pretty much a sure dinger on that one), you may be required by law to get a Special Construction title, even if the original VIN is still present on the frame.
Be forewarned you might be required to provide a copy of the bike's original title (front and back!) for not just the frame and motor, but EVERY non-new part on the bike! For new parts, you must have an itemized receipt proving you bought it new. At least that's how it is in Missouri.
And the worse case scenario is, no matter what state you live in, if it looks like you incorporated the head stock into the frame specifically to maintain the VIN stamp; then you can get hauled in for VIN tampering, which is a FEDERAL felony.
I'd have to disagree with most of this. I was a Licensed California Vehicle Dealer from 1981-2004 and became a DMV paperwork/law expert.
One could take said Suzuki 600 motorcycle and simply put a race fairing on it and substantially alter it's appearance.
Or take Suzuki 600 and take all the fairing off, add a sidecar and different fuel tank, lights and etc.
Adding a wheel cannot be unlawful.
So if you remove the front forks from your Suzuki 600 motorcycle and weld them to a seat and two steerable front wheels you still have the same vehicle as in the examples above.
Altering/tampering with a VIN is just that. I've had VIN's made at trophy shops for stolen/recovered vehicles.
I'd say it's all conjecture and subject to interpretation.
There are many Manx VW bugs running around that bear absolutely no resemblance whatsoever of the original vehicle but run on the VIN under the passenger seat.
How about the VW/Bugatti? (Google it) Registered as a VW bug...looks like an ancient Bugatti.
Or any number of kit cars...Cobra, Mercedes K, Porsche racer, google them there are hundreds, most of them disguised as a hot car made from and registered as some mundane form of transport.
It all started for me in 1966 with a 50's 'Bond Mini-Car' (google it). A three wheeled alloy car with two wheels in the back and one in front, powered by a 250cc TWO STROKE single cylinder Villiers...KICK START ONLY..engine. I had to open the bonnet (hood) to kick start the engine. You only needed a motorcycle license to drive this car.
Most anything can and will be done. Laws are circumvented everyday on car pool lanes and smog requirements. Even the BIG manufacturers by pass laws....safety requirements are less on Trucks rather than passenger cars...why do you suppose almost every personal vehicle is a SUV anymore? You guessed it....less requirements.
If there is a will there is a way. We would have no new stuff and few inventions if people couldn't tinker around.
There is no law that says I can't cut my Hayabusa in half and put a car seat in there and an extra wheel. There are laws as to safety equipment, lights/brakes/steering and etc., and all that had better work unless I want a ticket.
So I can put a Goldwing engine in my VW bug and it's still a Bug. So I can put a VW engine in my Goldwing and it's still a Goldwing. So I can put the front end of my Harley Sportster on the back end of my pre 17 digit VW Bug (with engine) now I have a VIN on the Harley front end and a VIN under the seat of the Bug...work that one out (I've seen this vehicle numerous times in Los Angeles). Hundreds of Harley Trikes around, new and old, the old ones are generally VW powered.
I call poo poo on anyone that says this is not legal or simple, I say it is both LEGAL AND SIMPLE. Keep it simple. Just be mindful of safety and VIN requirements. Any vehicle with a pre 17 digit VIN can have that VIN hidden, it doesn't even need to be on display. Any 17 digit VIN is now known as a 'Public VIN' and must be displayed in plain sight. That is why after a certain year (1970 was it?) all vehicles have a Federal Public VIN, on cars and trucks it is on the windshield post. Look at old cars, some are on the dash, some are on the inside door post, some under the hood, some under the seat (VW).
When you go to DMV with an old vehicle and they say "it is out of the system" usually it's a pre 17 digit and not on the computer. The computer changed a lot of things. It can be used to one's advantage. Now the DMV just looks at the computer and works from whatever the screen says. A licensed dealer, LEO, wrecking yards and some others have access to the same screen as the DMV....so you have a great starting point and parameters with which to work with.
It's like our ex Governor Arnold riding his motorcycle and sidecar without a M on his license, it's considered a car! Yet my three wheeled car was considered a motorcycle!
I wouldn't sweat the details, honest I wouldn't.