Wed. Aug 10th, 2022

Imagine this: a car that has been in your family for several generations has finally been passed down to you. It has been fully restored and you are looking forward to driving it. But when you try to register the vehicle, the authorities tell you that during an inspection, the main VIN was removed and reattached, which could cause numerous problems in the registration of the vehicle.

Thanks to Barrett-Jackson’s efforts, removing and reattaching the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) during repairs or restoration is no longer against the law. Following unanimous approval by the Arizona House of Representatives and the Arizona State Senate, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey signed Act 2480, which amends the current law to allow vehicle owners, restorers and repairers prior to 1981 to remove and reinstall a VIN for repair or restoration.

The statute entered into force on July 22, 2022.

According to President Barrett-Jackson Steve Davis, the legislation is significant and beneficial because virtually anyone who restored a car has had to remove and reattach the VIN, without realizing that doing so is against the law. “Our motivation for doing so was primarily for the health and future of our hobby to keep the collector car universe alive and well and keep those restorations on the way.”

Craig Jackson, president and chief executive of Barrett-Jackson, noted that many vehicle owners and restorers will often duplicate the factory process since the automaker first built the vehicle. During such chassis or rotisserie restorations, unaware of existing statutes in many states, restorers remove vehicle components from year to year. This process includes removing the main VIN, which is often screwed in and varies in location from car to car.

Steve Davis in the Arizona House of Representatives

Steve Davis in the Arizona House of Representatives

Kansas lawmakers recently sent similar legislation to the state governor following a 2017 incident in which a Kansas man bought a restored 1959 Chevrolet Corvette in Indiana. When he attempted to register the car in his home state, the highway patrol determined that the VIN tag had been removed and reattached, which is against the law.

Under the Kansas law of the time, the Corvette was impounded and should have been destroyed. There was no exception for someone who bought a vehicle not knowing the VIN problem. In this case, the VIN had been removed years earlier during the restoration and reattached. On March 22, 2022, Governor Lauren Kelly passed Kansas House Bill 2594, which allows for the temporary removal of the VIN during the full restoration of antique vehicles. While it’s unclear when the Corvette owner will reunite with his car, the bill is a step towards protecting the Kansas collector’s car community.

In 2021, Barrett-Jackson began work on changing the law in Arizona. “We were aware of the archaic statute that made it a crime to remove a VIN, and ultimately we said something needed to be done,” Davis said.

“This is a defining moment that people will watch and then want to emulate this legislation in their states.”

According to Jackson, many states have similar VIN statutes that were enacted in the 1940s and 1950s, a time when no one could conceive that decades later such cars would be restored and would be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars or more.

The federal VIN law, by comparison, allows you to remove a VIN for necessary repairs to a vehicle. While not as draconic as many state laws on the matter, this still allowed for some sort of exception for repairing a vehicle.

However, Arizona’s statute language on VINs did not allow such removal of a VIN for any reason. This reading, however, often neglects the intent behind the statutes in the first place.

Jackson also noted that the spirit of the VIN laws enacted decades ago was aimed at the scammers and scammers who were stealing vehicles, not the guy who spent tens of thousands of dollars and hours restoring a car. The letter of the law, however, did not consider him.

A government official, as in the case of Kansas, can simply read the statute in effect and, regardless of any other circumstances, conclude that the vehicle must be impounded because a VIN was removed and reinstalled. However, changing Arizona’s current VIN statutes to allow for the removal of a VIN for restoration or repair allows other factors to be considered.

“That was where we were stuck and no one understood or appreciated how meaningful it can be,” Davis said. “This new bill takes subjectivity out of the situation.”

When it came to drafting Arizona legislation, the Barrett-Jackson team wanted to take a narrow approach and use the language of the current federal VIN law to help draft the Arizona statute amendment. As such, the Arizona law amendment is restrictive.

The choice of 1981 as the cut-off year was not accidental. That year, VINs became more standardized and vehicles manufactured after 1981 are currently not considered candidates for the level of restoration that requires refitting the VIN.

“As the collector car community evolves and expands to future generations and more makes and models, this cut may, at some point, need to be reconsidered,” Jackson said.

According to Davis, the only challenge was to get non-automotive people to understand the problem. Davis wanted to help educate members of both the House and Senate about the proposed changes.

Arizona state capitol

Arizona state capitol

Sponsored by Arizona House Transportation Chair Frank Carroll, the bill was approved by the Transportation Committee in the Arizona House of Representatives and the Transportation and Technology Committee in the Arizona State Senate. It was unanimously approved in both governing bodies.

“We attacked this as hobbyists,” Davis said. “We’re all that guy in the garage, restoring the car and we have no choice but to remove the VIN to save it from destruction and reattach it after we’re done. This is the spirit of this legislation and it is something that will benefit and protect all collector car enthusiasts. That’s why this law was so important to us too, because it was actually more about the hobby. “

Most of the vehicles to which HB 2480 applies are driven by hobbyists. The Arizona bill turned out to be a law that everyone was proud to support, earning national interest.

Davis credits the bill’s success with having receptive Arizona lawmakers who were willing to listen, as well as common-sense legislation that is great not only for the collector’s car industry, but also for the state of the United States. Arizona. He noted that Arizona is becoming the center stage for automotive culture, largely due to Barrett-Jackson and the business-friendly environment of the state.

“We’re thrilled first and foremost,” Davis said. “This is an enthusiastic win. It’s not a Barrett-Jackson win, it’s a hobby win. “

This article was originally published on ClassicCars.com, an editorial partner of Motor Authority.

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