Live Auctions

Spring Project: 1965 Corvette Convertible

1965 Corvette

The seller of this Corvette seems to be pretty upfront about his find, he even admits he’s flipping it. The car has issues that need to be addressed to get it running, namely a bad water pump. It also had its original 4 speed swapped out for an automatic, thankfully though there is a Muncie 4 speed and all the parts to switch it back included with the car. I love the blue on blue paint scheme, although I’m not too sure about a previous owner’s special touches out back. This could be a wonderful spring project, but you’ll just have to take a closer look at it here on eBay and decide for yourself!

1965 Corvette Engine

I don’t mind that the seller is flipping this Corvette, I’m just glad to see it out of the barn and hopefully on its way to a new life. I do wish the seller had cleaned it up a little and installed the water pump. Changing the transmission it a bit more of an involved task, so I understand him not doing that, but installing the water pump and getting it running is something one could easily do in an evening. And in the end it would give buyers considerably more confidence knowing that the engine isn’t seized and is running. When sellers don’t fix little things like this, it makes me wonder why they haven’t done the work. Is it laziness (I can actually understand that one a little better) or is it that they fear what they might find? If the car was parked because of a bad water pump, does that mean the engine overheated? If that’s the case it could mean damage to the internals, leaving us to just hope that nothing was damaged and that it really will be a simple project to get running.

1965 Corvette Interior

Let’s move on from the speculation though and focus on what we can see. First off, the body looks good. I don’t see any body damage and the seller claims they don’t see any rust on the frame. The paint is an issue for me and not just because of the custom touches, but because it looks to be coming off in a few areas. The front half actually doesn’t look to bad and might just clean up nicely. The worst of the problems are on the rear clip, which has the custom work and paint popping off. If you are good with body work and blending paint, you might be able to redo the back and have it looking pretty good. Of course, you could just leave it as is and just enjoy it as is!

1965 Corvette Convertible

I’m blown away by how much C2 Corvettes are going for these days, but having had the joy of riding in several I can understand the appeal. This one is going to need a decent amount of work to get it to top value, but personally I would focus more on making it an enjoyable car to drive and if it adds value in the end it would just be a nice bonus! I’d clean it up, get the 4 speed in there, get the engine running great, install new tires, and clean the interior up the best I could without replacing everything. So what would you guys do with this Corvette? Would you give it a full restoration or just what’s necessary to make it a fun driver?


  1. Rick

    Missing title is a coffin nail for a lot of states. I’m surprised to see the bidding so spiritedly where it is… with the reserve still not met. What surprises me more is people bidding working off poor photos… still can’t figure out what one of them is supposed to be of. Seller is a well known flipper and regards most of his cars highly… a PPI is a must with this one – if you can get a title.

  2. Jason Houston

    Anybody fool enough to remove a 4-speed from a Corvette and replace it with a Boat Anchor would likely put mustard and ketchup on a chocolate fudge sundae.

    • Rocco Member

      That is a perfect conclusion. I agree.

      • Rocco Member

        And to put what looks like an early Mustang shifter in a Corvette is a sacrilege. Even me, a Mustang guy, wouldn’t do that.

    • grant

      That’s the best analogy ever. Unless you object, I am using it…

    • Al8apex

      or ketchup on a hot dog

    • YankeeDoodle

      My uncle was the fool who owned this car and swapped in the automatic. He lost a leg in Vietnam and prosthetic limb technology was not the greatest then so he put an automatic in so he can still enjoy his car. He died about a dozen years later due to other complications from the war after that I don’t know what the story is for this car until now

      • dave

        Sorry for your loss and thanks for your uncle’s service. I’m also a Nam vet. This is why I don’t make stupid comments like the other person did. You just don’t know the circumstances and yours is the perfect example. That is bizarre because when I came home from NAM in 1974, I bought a 65 Corvette roadster 327-375 fuel injection car for 1800.00.
        So I will apologize for the other guys STUPID statement for the Automatic trans comment.
        UNITED STATES NAVY-BR Petty Officer 2nd Class

      • Dave Wright


      • Jim

        I’m glad your uncle didn’t give up on having the vette cause of his problem. Too many disabled folks do, I’ve changed my rides over to automatics and I’m making the Grim Reaper work hard to get me, he will someday but I’m not giving in. I’ve got more cars to build.

    • Jim

      I pray you never become disabled like myself, spinal cord injury and a degenerative nerve disease. Only people who have never had any real challenges to their lives or lost any freedoms would spout such a mouthful of crap. I’m trying to be polite. I’ve switched all my cars to automatics and drive with hand controls. A shift kit, the right torque converter and internals it even shifts harder than the 4spd. The drag car is consistently faster as well. I’d like to still be able run up stairs and row the Toploader in my Torino but I’ll take what I can get. Hey buddy, think first.

      • Doug Towsley

        I too was kind of wondering if that comment was going to come back to haunt him. Id also like to apologize and express support for anyone who does whatever they can to survive trauma and Injury. Im a veteran as well (Air Force) and my family all the way back to the Continental Army served. (Just documented some of that).
        So, the comments about Vietnam and Corvettes got me thinking,
        My pal Hal, Interesting guy, Never served in the military per se, But he took a job as a Diver (Deep sea hard hat certified) in the harbors of Vietnam looking for booby traps and mines. As dirty as Some harbors are, add in the nerve wracking aspects of IED & EOD work and many a lessor person would crumble.
        After return to the US 1968-69 or so? He went and bought a Corvette from the Chevy dealership on 82nd ave here in Portland. He got pulled over by a Portland cop and he told us he could still see the dealerships sign in the rear view mirror in the distance. Cop asked him “You just buy this?” “Yep” Cop told him “I dont think this is going to work out for you”.
        While I didnt buy anything new when I came back from the Military I had a similar series of incidents with the Troutdale Police where i was staying. (Welcome home A**H***) But my buddy Hals Story is much better than mine.
        As to what we did to cars when they were relatively new, and not collectible or what we did when we were young should always be viewed in a certain light. Its easy to complain or point fingers now much later.

      • Jim

        Doug thanks for responding and I’d like to apologize for snapping, in the last 4yrs I’ve had my life change drastically and have learned what people like myself (and I’m grateful I still am mobile) have to deal with daily. The smallest things can take so much time, short distances can seem like miles to walk and a flight of stairs is the equivalent of climbing Mount Everest. I kick myself for the times I used to park in a handicap spot cause it was easy not thinking the people it was meant for really needed it. Time for dinner, carry on.

  3. Lee Hartman

    When I looked at it, the bidding was at $24,000. Seems a lot for a car without a proper title. If I was reselling this one, I would have taken care of the title and made it run and drive. I think the extra time spent doing just those things would increase the selling price considerably.

  4. AMX Brian

    At first I completely agreed with finding the title and reinstalling the 4 speed, but at 24k+ this is no longer a project car for small timers like myself. The people who are interested in buyer the car at this price will deal with the title issue and most likely replace the 4 speed when the restore the car anyway.

  5. John H. in CT

    Regarding auto tranny, C2 vettes are a joy to drive with a 700R4 conversion which provides high ratio first gear for power and overdrive 4th. I suspect this on has an old 2 speed powerglide, which is an annoyance. It’s curious that everything is there for a conversion back to the muncie but not the matching #’s tranny?

    • Rocco Member

      Sorry, but I disagree about the 700R4 or any auto in a vette that had a 4-speed, unless you have a bad clutch leg.

      • John H. in CT

        Have you driven one? I’ve driven both, with 327/ 340 HP solid lifters.

  6. mtshootist1

    it looks just like one that a guy tried to trade me for my 52 panhead, same color and everything, I was about 24, I didn’t do the deal. Good thing I didn’t, turned out that it had been stolen in Ohio several years before…. I wonder..

  7. Rick

    Since decent examples now start in the $50K range, this thing is a bargain at $24K (if it’s anywhere near as good of condition as it looks in the photos) and no big deal changing is back to a 4 speed, plus titles are easy enough to get. You don’t have to build it all numbers matching either, there are lots of them out there already and nobody seems to mind except the purists

  8. Nessy

    Something fishy here. First off, another flipper who is too lazy to push the thing out of the garage and wash it. Hmm, why? Also, since no title, the flipper can’t do it the legal way and put the car in his name and pay the dmv fees and taxes right? The car looks like it will clean up nice and bid even higher if cleaned, title or not. I wonder why he did not bring the car home and clean it up? Why is it still in the same garage where he found it…. Hmm, lost title? I guess it could be possible that somebody is going to come looking for this car….

    • Joe

      I know who the seller is, but not this car. It IS in his garage, just looks like he brought it home and decided to offer it just as it is without window dressing, thats all.

  9. Moparmann Member

    Let me put my glasses on so that I can see the pictures clearly…oh!, so it wasn’t the glasses!! :-)

  10. Donnie

    The 350 can not be the original engine .The 350 was not made till 67 I think .It should have a 327

    • dave

      327 till 67

  11. Adam Wright

    A Notorized Bill of Sale is legal in NY and all states have to accept that, it’s state reciprocity. It might take a couple of trips to your DMV but it can be done.
    The only thing you can’t do without a title is export it, but it can go anywhere in the US on the NY Bill of Sale.

    • Dave Wright

      I feel the same way……they will do a check to make sure it is not reported stolen. In the worst case, a Lein sale always solves the problem. We have a DMV inspector here in Idaho that is great. If you call her, she will make sure it isn’t stolen or has some other trouble with the title. Some states are branding titles as unregisterable and that is loaded into some sort of a national database. I think it came about with the stupid salvage title laws.

    • Pookie Jamie P

      In NY a ‘transferable’ registration is your title. That’s how they told me at the DMV when I went to register my 71 Cougar. Untransferable means you need a title.
      I agree… Fishy deal…. Ford o matic tranny…. Not washed…. Any authorized dealer can go to DMV or local police, and run VIN. It tells all.

  12. brakeservo

    Why get worked up that the bidding is over $24,000 and RESERVE NOT MET. Whenever that happens this early in an auction, you can fairly bet that those bids are merely shills placed by the sellers friends and neighbors – who among those who might really want this car, is so stupid to bid this early?? Nobody is probably the correct answer. Smart bidders wait until the last few minutes. Anyone else is either stupid or a shill . . . and stupid people don’t have $24,000+ to blow on a project car.

  13. Nessy

    It’s not only the so called missing title needed in order to put the car on the road that is a problem, without proof of ownership, anyone can come along and say that it’s their car. Now, they may not be able to prove this but they can sure make alot of trouble in the process. How does a title go missing? If the car is still in the legal owner’s hands, he can get a new title, if he is gone, his estate can also get a new title issued. The only way a title can not be reissued is if something is really wrong, such as the legal owner not knowing about it. Maybe there is a lien on the car too….Whoever still has that title in their hands and under their name of this car is the owner.

  14. Jim

    Boy, no coffee today? Your getting twisted cause the guy is flipping a 51yr old vette but he’s not changing the water pump!! That car looks like it’s a solid foundation for a restoration or whatever but its been ridden hard and put away wet. Its not numbers match anymore so have at it. When I’ve flipped cars I either clean and sell as is and tell the buyer I didn’t do anything except get it to roll or I’ll go through everything and make sure it runs and drives well. Replacing the pump may start a chain of events that can get costly, pump, thermostat, radiator, hoses maybe head gasket. It’s up to him, no one is forcing anyone to buy it. Just sayin

  15. RoughDiamond

    When the paperwork is not in order that is a red flag to me.

  16. Peter R

    Clear title is, for me, the only way to buy any car. Without it, you have no idea what may turn up after you have paid for it – at worst, it could even be a set-up to get your money and then have a friend of the seller take back the car. This should be corrected by the seller before money changes hands.
    There is lots to do on this car before it will be worth $50K and we have no idea how high the reserve might be- until we know the reserve it is impossible to judge how good a deal it might be. IMHO it is getting to the fair value limit soon.

    • Dave Wright

      Great…….we need more guys like you so risk takers and professionals like me can buy this stuff cheeper. There is always more profit buying distressed assets than finished no risk ones. You must buy the stock market at the peak too………

      • MountainMan


  17. Marty Member

    Based on the quality of some of the mechanical work I’ve seen, the less the indifferent seller has done to it first, the better.

  18. MountainMan

    The lack of a title used to be an issue that I thought was not to be overlooked. Recently I have been traveling and I have learned that several states do not even issue titles for cars past a certain age. I also wonder why not go ahead and replace the water pump but it looks really solid in the pics and I sure wouldn’t mind having to make room for this one

  19. Doug Towsley

    I just looked at Feebay and its at $25.5k and i see NO reserve on it. If its FeeBay never rules out hanky panky, and expect all kinds of shill bidding and other stuff. Who cares as long as you pay for it what you are comfortable with. If you guys think there isnt screwy stuff going on at other selling venues you are rather naive.
    The point is, know your market, Know the product and do your research. I also love it when I was buying and selling when a seller had a distressed sale. In most cases i DO NOT want you working on it. Many people just make it worse. Titles dont worry me. I run numbers and due dilligence. Im not giving away all my tricks but I have never been burned yet. I realize in many states titles ARE a problem. But for every problem there is a solution. As to the car itself, Im knowledgeable only in a general sense on Vettes but a expert or purist would pick this one apart. Lots not correct or stock, but that being said, after an inspection and research this seems like a good deal. As to a Fluff and Buff resto on this, No way, This car is a can of worms. This will be an indepth project stem to stern. But for the right guy, you could do really well with it doing a make over and selling for big money, Or as a foundation for your keeper dream car it looks pretty good from the cheap seats over here.

    • dave

      I flip cars all the time without titles. CA is an easy state to get titles. Especially if it has been out of the system for more than 7 years.

  20. Doug Towsley

    Oh yes, to whoever said you cant export this without a title, WRONG. You can, there is steps to do it. Can you ship without ANY paperwork or documentation? NOPE. But there are ways to ship without titles. Most countries and customs like the title because here in the US that is a legal standard WE use. Other countries use variations. I have shipped to India. Japan, Germany, England, Scotland, Australia and New Zealand. I have also imported from many of these same countries. Dont rely on the first freight broker you talk to either. Many as a company have their own procedures or standards. Doesnt mean something cannot be done.

    • dave

      10/4 we do it all the timr.

  21. dave

    I sold this 67 with an LT1 with yes! a turbo 400 for 4500.00 in 1976 It was a 12-second street machine back then. Originally a 427 -390 glide car.

  22. george

    buying this car is a recipe for ending up with a stolen car….people just don’t lose the paperwork for a car like this

    • Jim

      Maybe not, if the guy passed away long ago, the family member holding the paperwork may have moved a few times, divorced, long illnesses or who knows, that little piece of paper the size of a baseball card could have been misplaced. Not everyone is very organized or keeps a file cabinet with all important papers. Just sayin

    • Doug Towsley

      Recipe for a stolen car? People dont lose paperwork? WOW! Sorry buddy, you must not have dealt with any estate situations, Or dealt with the species Human much. I have worked for 3 different govt agencies and you ASSUME they have their acts together, but jeez, some of the people I have worked with should make you afraid, very afraid. My dad was an Atty for 55 years. I was asked to assist in MANY estate situations, as well as a “Expert” for firearms, certain types of collectibles, tools, Vehicles from Motorcycles, cars to Airplanes. I volunteer and do promotional work for a well known museum and in that role we are asked on a monthly basis to advise, do appraisals and evaluate collections and estate situations. My BIL has worked for a high end auction house for 35 years that specializes in estate auctions and collectibles. The stories we could spill would boggle your mind. Live WW11 Munitions when cleaning out a old guys house. Found a 1964 Honda with 23 miles on the odometer buried under debris in the garage the family didnt even know they owned. A well known guy here local, not once, not twice but three times was found $20,000, $33,000 and $39,000 in Gold and Silver Coins and Bullion the guy stashed away and forgot about. Thats just what was found. God knows how much got away, stolen or tossed. I could go on and on.

  23. Doug Towsley

    Okay, Sweet Vette! So, im not giving away all my secrets but heres a freebie to get your guys thinking outside the box a bit. Remember buy low sell high. Also sell whats IN demand in markets WHERE there is demand. So the following is not exactly a secret in my area. We have a huge swap meet coming up in April here in Portland Oregon. Biggest in the Western part of the US. Spend some time looking at investment cars and watch the buyers with money belts and bulging pockets. Listen for accents. You will see Asians and a lot of Ozzies and Kiwis. Certain American Muscle cars are bank $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ So, just for a little education spend some time trolling here for example Corvettes listed on TRADEME.NZ See:

    Or look up vehicles, cars or motorcycles on the website yourself.

    Check out some of the listings. Now, you gotta line up a freight broker or know a shipper. I have guys who share containers. You also need a guy on the ground over there. Oz, NZ, Japan, etc… But all the big events here on the west coast, Especially the California events theres a LOT of “FURRIGNERS” spending filthy lucre. Some people get mad at this. Ive been yelled at for selling overseas. Heck, I always say….”I dont tell them were ALL the good stuff is,, C’mon!” My buddy hauled a trailer load of vintage bikes to a SoCal meet and he had people thrusting wads of cash into his Hands… Sold all his stuff in the first hour. I have a friend who came over from the UK last fall. When questioned at the Airport “Sir, Are you bringing in any amounts of cash?” Theres signs at all the entry points that large sums MUST be declared. Steve thought about lying, and losing the $40,000 in his money belt and decided honesty was best. Declared it, Was questioned extensively. It was funny because Customs didnt seem to know what to do about him. Super cool guy but when asked,,, “Look Laddy,, I’ve bought motorcycles here in the US I am picking up and purchasing more, Does this look like a face you are going to accept a Cheque from? So, Cash it is!” Cant argue with that.
    The real Irony is, despite so many Ozzies coming over and buying up our junk, Ive imported stuff FROM there, and I know Americans who travel around over there scooping up stuff to ship back here to the US. Early American Motorcycle parts and bikes are often exported from Australia here to the US. So, lot of stuff crossing the ponds.
    And NO, Im not giving up my contacts overseas. Dont ask.

    • dave

      Been doing this for 40 years. Good info.

    • Keith

      Doug these are excellent points. I too export mainly to mainland Europe, and yes you will get guys pissed at you about sending cars overseas. My reply usually is “well then outbid them!”. Pretty simple.
      You are totally correct about supply and demand for an area. I’m on the east coast and, rust factors aside, we have very few good trucks out here. But tons of 50’s-70’s imports. Western US is the opposite: tons of solid, cheap trucks, few imports few Mustangs. I send trucks over here to the East Coast and Mustangs over there to the west coast. Use an LLC to offset shipping costs & come out ahead 9 times outta 10.

      • Chris in Australia

        What’s wrong with cars going overseas? Better a good home O/S than a bad one in the US. We have a thriving American car scene here in Australia. And no salt on our roads too. Most American cars that make it here enjoy pampered lives. My Skylark does.

  24. dogwater

    I think this car would be a great project for someone looks like its all there, at the
    right price been restoring corvette for years seen worse.

  25. Wayne S.K.

    Hey, everyone, just CHILL! I spent the first 28 years of my life in N.Y. There was NO SUCH THING as a “title” for any vehicle until 1974. Just a little green registration card. It is NO problem to apply for a new registration, simply by providing the VIN on an application at the DMV. (However, that in itself is a problem, as the line at any given N.Y. DMV office usually stretches the distance relative to that between goal lines on a football field.) When I moved from N.Y. to TN., a friend trailered down a ’34 Ford 5 window that he thought I would like to have. I took the registration card to the County Clerk’s office and she asked “Where’s the title?” I explained that N.Y. didn’t issue titles back in the day, so she went in the back, checked with her supervisor, gave me a temporary registration paper, and I received a shiny blue Tennessee title in the mail a month or so thereafter… Ok. Pontification over…

  26. dave

    Run a national vin search
    No brainer

    • Dave Wright


  27. John H.


    Sorry to be naïve, but in Connecticut it seems that you cannot run a national VIN search unless you are a dealer in the middle of a transaction. Is there another way to do this?

    • Dave Wright

      I don’t know about a socialist state like Connecticut but here in Idaho we just call the DMV or sherrif……..

  28. Jim

    I’ve checked two ways, I have a friend who is a police officer and if I supply a full vin, I have an answer usually within 24hrs, it’s not a database available to the public, I’ve asked! I’ve also gone into my local DMV on the information line with the vin and said I’m buying this car and would like to be sure the person I’m buying from actually owns it, they tell me the last known owners last name, state of registration and if it’s listed as stolen. Nothing else. Usually they ask me to step aside and wait, 15-20 minutes isn’t too long to avoid a lifetime of grief. Hope this helps

    • Doug Towsley

      Jim, and Dave you are both correct, If you can find a friendly officer to run one, and helps if you are known as a legit vehicle guy, I have done this many times. But not all police will do it either. It helps when you have ID working for the same Govt agency and have done it also when i worked for the county. Same deal, “Im looking at 2 vehicles off of CL, can you run these for me. Check for Liens and Stolen”. I used to do it as a walk in at the DMV, but here in Oregon they changed the laws. (Will explain in a minute) So, ALSO, BUILD a relationship with your friendly neighborhood insurance agent. One of my renters worked for a big company, and she knew i was legit and careful and would run vehicles and even helped with a few background checks i needed. Dont abuse it and works fine. But if you deal in vehicles and are known, you should have a relationship with an agent. (Bought yours on the internet? Sucks to be you) So, my agent will from time to time run stuff for me. ALL Insurance agents and companies are linked in and have access. However EVERY log in is tracked and in some cases it costs the subscriber (Banks, Ins. Co. Private investigator, OGA) for every lookup or log in. So, better use discretion.
      Now,DMV. I have a few clerks I try to deal with. They know me and we have built up trust. However it USED to be all DMV records were public records. That was changed due to a stalker/Murder (TV actress Rebecca Schaefer?) She had a stalker her in Oregon get her DMV info and allowed him to walk up to her house in Calif and shot her. laws changed. People just dont hand over all the details but you CAN ask “Can you confirm or deny this vehicle has liens, any other encumbrances or reported stolen in recent history?” You can also ask open ended questions like “Is there more than one title holder?” IE: Business partner or spouse Co-signer or owner You could also ask “Is there any recent history on this such as Inquiries or pending changes/Transactions?”

      You can also HIRE a private investigator. Might be worth it for some situations. I wont give away everything here but you might want background info on possible lien holders, extended family who might come out of the woodwork later, PIs are almost always retired or former law enforcement and a good one can be a real asset. For a high end collectible this can be a solid investment for you. For a Vette thats potentially huge money whats a few hundred dollars?

      My dad used to tell people all the time, “If you hired a lawyer before you did something you wouldnt need one after the fact and it would have been a LOT less money” This apply’s to all kinds of things in life.

  29. Doug Towsley

    I will add, I sold a vintage Triumph motorcycle to a buyer in Washington. The frame and motor were non-matching but the motor number already had 2 titles associated with it in 2 different states. While we had physical possession of the actual motor, the matching frame was being used in one state with the title, and someone somewhere used that same number and got a title and was titled in another state. I sent off letters to both states and my documentation, its a long story but the point is these things happen. People also sell PAPER. Selling of titles without posession of the vehicle is illegal in many places, but it still happens. I saw 2 classifieds this morning for people selling paper. (IE: TITLES)

    For a high end valuable vehicle, certain numbers are in demand. The joke is T120 TT model Triumphs were made approx 2000 per year for each year made (mid 60s) Far more plain jane T120 or T120R models were built. The joke is now there are approx 10,000 TT Triumphs per year in existence. So, fake numbers exist, restamps happen, and sometimes vehicles get parted out and the serial and VIN numbers get reused on multiple vehicles.

    Thats is why you do your research, consult with experts (Not all of whom are always correct) and do your due dilligence. A vehicle with Provenance is something you always want to value highly. Perhaps you can create that provenance. I do this all the time.
    You can consult with Marque experts, get appraisals, Get evaluations. Many Clubs have machine dating and certification. (many of my vintage bikes are certified this way, prevents frauds from using my numbers and building a knock off) You can track down its history. Family photos, old dealer records, service records, receipts. Insurance paperwork. You might be amazed what you can come up with.

    Now, older vehicles had some weird stuff. This is where research and Marque experts can be a resource. Cops and DMVs, and Insurance companies also have books showing this material and what a VIN looked like and where to look. Keep in mind the following in some jurisdictions heres what some LE operate off of:


    Scary right? I know 2 attorneys who represented clients who had motorcycles and 1 car impounded and in one case the cops held them for 5 years before release. Guilty until proven innocent. It took a lawsuit to get them released. Familiarize yourself with


    So, Just because an expert offers an opinion doesnt mean they know what they are talking about. For example some of my vehicles have a 3 digit VIN # and one has 2 digits. This freaks people out and makes some of their heads explode. I just tell them what they SHOULD have been told in training. To match the modern 17 digit Vin system add an appropriate amount of Zeros.

    While I consult often in valuations and machine dating, And despite my credentials, Sometimes its easier to show them a printed book.
    Roy Bacons “Triumph twins restoration guide” and the pages highlighted where it says “VIN numbers are rarely neat and orderly on these machines. They were hand stamped and ones that look too tidy should be viewed with suspicion” Its fun to see the looks on Police and DMV clerks when you hand over documentation like that. Not so much when you go in and “Well, Doug said……”

  30. Dave Wright

    Titles are deffinatly an in exact science. My 58 Mercedes has title with the model number as the vin. I asked the DMV about it, they looked it up and said there were 2 others in the state with the same number…….all good Idaho titles. I have not addressed it officially to them yet but will fix it one day. It seems to me that most of the time……as long as you are not trying to do something illegal, immoral or unethical it can be fixed. In the old days there were a lot of Hummers around without titles, most got a Chevrolet Pickup title calling it home built or modified. There is more to the story but that is the bottom line.

  31. Jim

    Doug you laid it all out perfect. I’d like to add something I ran into yrs ago. In the early eighties a guy I did a lot of work for went out of business(due to divorce, he had a cheap lawyer, she had a big gun). He had no cash available and signed over to me three motorcycles out of his collection. No antiques, just used bikes that all needed something. I found two were Hondas that were registered by the vin stamped on the head of the frame, the Harley was registered by the serial number on the engine case, there was also a different number on the frame. I spent a lot of time trying to find out what to do, there was no internet and DMV then was a nightmare. After weeks I was able to find out the number on the frame had never been used or registered, even Harley Davidson wasn’t much help but said some bikes had different numbers. I ultimately sold it to a mechanic at Harley Davidson dealer who was a helping me. My dad had been a Police officer and worked for the auto squad and two vins was a big red flag to me. I don’t know if that’s a common issue but wanted to mention it.

    • Doug Towsley

      Jim, this is EXACTLY what I am talking about when I said a expert is often needed for older vehicles. The rules also changed many times.
      On the Harley, It USED to be all HDs were registered and titled by what was known as the “Belly Numbers” and that changed. Also, many people title and register by the VIN on the frame, regardless of motor. Logically motors might end up being replaced so that makes sense but not everyone follows those rules today.
      Some manufacturers had different numbers on a motor and frame and while a club dating officer or certificate can verify that “This 1962 BSA 500cc Goldstar was completed in Aug 1961 and was exported to Hap Alzina Western US importer and left the factory with Frame # CB32 4038 and Engine # DBD 5016 with a STD transmission with # 786234 with standard gearing and lighting equipment”
      Now, then you have a Washington state title that states its a 1964 BSA 650 (Which is a twin cylinder) and Titled off the frame number. It was titled as a 64 because that was the year of the sale and registration. When I come across it it has the wrong Engine (a 1955 small fin) and the owner is representing it as all stock and correct. WRONG! So, it pays to do your research. Much easier now days with the internet but i can point you to forums where the president and a guy who should know better of the International Triumph Owners club declared several bikes as phonies and no such machines ever existed. He was proved wrong with extensive documentation. So even the best sometimes get things wrong.

      And,. I have brand new NOS engine cases from dealer inventorys. NO VIN NUMBERs. I have access to other NOS dealer inventory. We have replaced frames, and engines for shop customers many times and restamped VIN numbers. I did this at several shops. Wont do anything illegal but here in Oregon a legit way of doing this exists and many times I write letters to DMVs to document this.

      I will say I know some car guys who i know have stamps, and create phonies. Some are well known nationally. Im not in the business of busting people, But I dont approve of making fakes or deceiving people. But it DOES happen.

      • Dave Wright

        My ex wife’s cousin was a really high end machinest and welder in Rosemead California. I remember one time some “guys” brought him a mold for I think the right side engine case for a Harley. It had been damaged at the factory and discarded…..some enterprising soul had taken it home. It wound up in the Rosemead shop to be repaired. The “guys” we’re really excited because they wanted to make engine cases without serial numbers. It seems the Harlies of the time only had a serial number on the case that the mold was for. The “guys” gave him a 1000.00 cash tip for doing a great job, that was in the early 70’s.

  32. Doug Towsley

    There are several websites that explain the Harley numbering system. 1909 to 1930 was a real mess to figure things out. Prior to 1970 Harley frames didnt have a VIN number. Yes, the cases prior to 70 had a left side stamping, but you also verify what it is with the belly numbers. There are several tricks to verify if numbers have been welded over and restamped. A expert can even retrieve previously stamped numbers if you know what you are doing. ( A bit of chemistry and science).
    I often spot fake numbers, shows, events and on the internet. Not everyone likes to hear this or get this news. Its also not unheard of to have people call you out when in fact your numbers ARE legit.

    One of the things you have to watch for is Letters and numbers sizing and Fonts. Different companies used different fonts and sizes. sometimes over the years they changed as well. It is tell tale to see a later years font or wrong size on a vehicle that is much earlier. Sometimes you can see obvious signs of welding or grinding.

    I also worked in the casting business off and on, and know many tool and die makers. These guys get really upset to be called machinists by the way. Whole different skill set and level of expertise. Most early British stuff was Sand Cast, same with HD, Indian and others but by and large, most went to Die casting. Early CB750 Hondas that were Sandcast models command huge premiums and a knowledgeable buyer knows how to spot the differences but can be several thousand $$$ difference.

    I have an idea who those guys with the mold might have been but thats only part of the equation. It takes a lot of skill and knowledge to produce a useable casting. I know of a scrap yard where several dozen engine castings seeming brand new were found. No vin numbers and some still needed finish machining. They make nice mockups and display motors but junk for real use. They used wrong alloy and heat treat and the castings were so soft the threads would pull out let along bearings and races.

    I know where theres several guys with a pile of NOS Harley and Buell castings for their racing programs. These are the Heavy duty castings and specially modified so gearing and drivetrain parts can be swapped quickly and easily. A true bargain and I bought a set just for display. I dont know if we will ever use them.

    Here in Oregon and Washington, and sometimes California you can also get an “Assigned” Vin Number. This is sometimes a special sticker, and sometimes a foil or alloy plate and is attch by either the State Police or a DMV employee. I have a few vehicles with these along with the documentation. Oregon is trying to get away from that.

    I am currently Feuding with Oregon DMV headquarters as for vehicles with lost titles, they want to do a “Assembled vehicle title” Thats A-OK-Fine for a basket case or project from misc sources Such as my parts shelves or the last 10 years of swap meet finds but for a vintage vehicle with provenance and history, a Assy vehicle title is stupid and dangerous. I can show the vehicle is numbers correct and left the factory with all these correct parts. But the value of it is only a fraction of fair market value if its an Assembled vehicle title. Been dealing with this for several years. That IS the problem with hiring people with no real actual knowledge and experience in motor vehicles and allowing them to determine policy and procedures.

    In addition. BY LAW, I can point you guys online to the Oregon Revised Statues (ORS) that mandate that unless there is a preponderance of evidence showing alteration or fraud, The dept of Motor vehicles is REQUIRED to register and title vehicles. Its in black and white and its the law. I can bring in a BOS on a brown paper grocery sack and you HAVE to issue me a title. Period. Now , it takes a bit more finesse. But hopefully you understand my point here. Trusting govt employees to make rational and practical decisions can be a trying experience. Thats why up until a few days ago we had armed protestors here in Oregon in a standoff with the feds. I didnt agree with many of their points, but I do understand their anger and frustration. I worked for 3 different Govt agencies so, I saw the problems from both sides.

  33. Doug Towsley

    Funny stroy real quick and Ill get off my soap box. When I worked for Precision Castparts (PCC aka Pretty close castparts) which primarily makes aerospace stuff but does do medical parts and all kinds of industrial stuff, I at one point transferred into a dept for Engineering development and one off specialty projects. Many of the prev employees had been fired.
    What had happened was a special limited production run of custom pistols came thru. Based on the famous Desert Eagles these were stainless steel of a proprietary formula we had. (Stainless Steel can be many different flavors and varieties. We did specialty custom stuff)
    There was a a batch of either 50 or 100, dont recall exact number but they were nearly completed and only needed 1 machining operation before end of month ship. They still needed some parts installed but this was common off the shelf parts that interchange such as grips and other bits. NONE of these guns had makers marks, or serial numbers engraved yet. Someone on weekend overtime stole the whole lot. Somewhere out there someone built up a stash of some VERY special hand guns.
    Now, I have 4 very special prototype engines sitting here. Brand new, IN the wrapping, Sourced 3rd party legally. There was a company producing these engines for a world wide known manufacturer on a contract basis. There was a dispute over money. Allegedly there was 50 or 75 motors sitting on that shipping dock. I know legally own 4 of them. So, stuff happens. The issue is, what happens down the road. Where does this stuff end up???

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