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Data Plates and VINs; Part 2 Altered Plates

Part 2: Altered Plates

This is the Second Part in a four part series contributed by guest author Bill Culp. All VINs used in these photos have been altered and do not show all numbers.

As the use of modified or switched data plates became more of a problem the use of rivets and vinyl decals became mandatory. The vinyl decals and these plates are not easily altered or “re-manufactured”. This is even though there are forgeries available and duplicates made for some valuable high demand classics.  A legitimate duplication company will demand documentation of your car and the original data plate before selling you a new one. As we all suspect, there are fake Hemi’s out there and it is widely believed that there are now more Z-28’s than were ever manufactured. What about all the “new” 1967 Mustang bodies and other sought after collectibles now being manufactured? Do you think any of those are getting old data plates and vins attached to them?

Since the data plate shown in the previous article is attached to the instrument panel, simply changing the instrument panel changes the data plate.  If the vinyl data plate is mounted on the door, changing that door also produces another data plate.  A missing or non-matching data plate is a warning to potential buyers. Always check these data plates with the car’s paper documentation to discover possible problems or fakes.  However, also realize that body damage and replacement parts are a fact of life for any vehicle that has been around any time at all.

An early vinyl data plate from a 1970 AMC Javelin Mark Donahue is shown as an example.  If the door is removed from the “real” car and installed on a “tribute car”, then we have some fake identification.  The very same thing is true on this example car. Look at the actual metal data plate and note that it is not mounted on the body, but on this door. Did it start out on this car? Why relocate it to the door?  If the dash data plate had also been changed along with this door, a casual cursory inspection would likely leave the inspector feeling that this is a real 1970 Mark Donahue Javelin.

The vinyl data plate probably cannot be removed and placed on another door without damage.  The metal data plate is fastened to the car with special metal rivets.  Removal of this plate will most likely damage the soft aluminum plate and must be reattached with non-original rivets.

Restamping has been tried with certain vehicles but is much more difficult with raised figures.

To be continued…

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I grew up and lived in Iowa for a good portion of my life before moving to Southern California. After 20+ years we now live outside Nashville Tennessee. I have been into cars since I was old enough to remember. I don't have a brand loyalty although I do prefer American Muscle especially the 1969/1970 NASCAR Aero Cars. (Check out our other web site at site) As long as it has four wheels and an engine I get excited. Few men are lucky enough to be able to share their passion for cars with the woman they love. Fortunately, my wife, Katriana, is also a gear head and many of our activities revolve around the cars. We have a small collection that includes at least one car from each of the Big Three. It includes a Best of Show winner, a survivor, a driver with lots of patina and several others. Katrina prefers all original cars while I like to modify them so we have a few of each. When we aren't playing with cars we are out working with or showing our miniature donkeys. You can see more about that part of our lives at

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