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How to spot a changed VIN


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Hello everyone,

 

I'm going to buy my first 02 and I managed to find a nice one for the price I want to pay. According to the VIN, the car is a '68 2002 (LHD, European). The colour and engine are not matching and everything in the car is changed to match the later models (rear lights, front grill, bumpers, dashboard and even the side mouldings. I want to make sure that those were just swaped for esthetic reasons and that the car is not a later model that someone changed the VIN.

1) Is the VIN stamped somewhere else besides the front right side near the windscreen and the plate?

2) Is the VIN location fixed (with accuracy) on all models so that I can measure its distance from the windscreen or something to spot if it was cut and changed?

3) Are there any chassic (or other) details that changed over the years and someone wouldn't change for esthetic reasons?

4) Does anyone have pictures of the original rear square lights panel weldings or the front part weldings so that I can compare them to the car's weldings? (they should not look original if the panel is changed)

Any other tips would help.

Thank you.

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Bring a mirror and look at the sheet metal surrounding the stamped vin on the fender underside.  A couple years ago I looked over an imported Tii in a popular color from a well known European restorer

Plot Twist:   The original poster is actually trying to build a counterfeit car and wants to make sure he has all the bases covered.          Just Kidding, I think. 

I bought an 02 many moons ago and subsequently realised it had already had a VIN swap, for reasons unknown. Due to UK tax laws at the time anything made pre-1973 was road tax exempt - my 02 was 74, so

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from your description of the car, it is not a 68 unless someone did extensive body modifications to change the front, nose panel and rear tail panel then added big bumpers...vin on a square tail is stamped on a metal plate on the pass side inner fender...early cars may have VIN stamped in metal in the same location

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9 minutes ago, esty said:

from your description of the car, it is not a 68 unless someone did extensive body modifications to change the front, nose panel and rear tail panel then added big bumpers...vin on a square tail is stamped on a metal plate on the pass side inner fender...early cars may have VIN stamped in metal in the same location

 

I was told that changing from round to square lights was common back then. Most early cars I see on sale around here have this modifications but in this particular car everything appears to be changed.

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I'm guessing this is not a 1968 2002 if it has the later side moulding, adding them to an early car would involve drilling holes in at least the rear quarter panels and replacing the doors and front fenders with later ones or drilling a bunch more holes in the original ones.

 

As far as I know the chassis I.d. #s (technically they didn't have Vin #s back then) is found in 3 places on the body: the plate on the passenger inner fender, the stamped # on the inner fender and the metal plate on the steering column top cover. Unfortunately the metal plates are easily removed and replaced with other old ones or new replica ones. The stamped one is harder to replace but can be done by carefully cutting out the old one and welding in another and smoothing the welds or replacing the whole inner fender panel.

 

The factory welds should look pretty uniform and nice. From the factory the front fenders were brazzed to the front nose panel at the top, you can usually tell if they've been messed with.

 

If it's a real 1968 it should have a 6 fuse fusebox, but that can be changed too.

 

For pictures try searching Google.

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You could also look at how the big bumpers are attached, does it look factory or home made? Unless your or the car is in Cali and a 76 it would be real hard to justify changing all that stuff, it would take many hours of work and require a donor car or two and at any point in these cars life were the prices from the earliest to the latest is not going to cover changing things over, on the other hand do you really care a clean car of any year trumps a beater of any year.

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He says it is a euro 2002 so no big bumper and body bracing in trunk.  And euro cars don’t have the VIN on the steering column either.  The fuse block would be the best thing to check.  Yes, owners could replace a trunk panel or maybe a nose but why both as well as the knee trim, I would be very wary.

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Chassis wiring is probably different from '68 to square light. Heater controls have back lights on squaries, roundies don't. If the car has seatbelt warning wiring, it's a newer chassis. Previously mentioned fuse box difference is easily spotted. I think there may inner door braces on later cars, not sure if that applies to Europe or not. Did Euro cars have the sticker on the back edge of the door? This may be a US smog thing, and it may have been removed during a repaint.

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1 minute ago, JerryC said:

Chassis wiring is probably different from '68 to square light. Heater controls have back lights on squaries, roundies don't. If the car has seatbelt warning wiring, it's a newer chassis. Previously mentioned fuse box difference is easily spotted. I think there may inner door braces on later cars, not sure if that applies to Europe or not. Did Euro cars have the sticker on the back edge of the door? This may be a US smog thing, and it may have been removed during a repaint.

73’s have illuminated heater bezels.

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Bring a mirror and look at the sheet metal surrounding the stamped vin on the fender underside.  A couple years ago I looked over an imported Tii in a popular color from a well known European restorer, the vin was swapped via sheet metal grafted in.  The top metal was ground flush, but the welding was visible from underneath.

 

Best of luck.

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I would wager that most of these changes were made based on the easy availablity of these parts. In other words, they were cheap and plentiful. No one cared much about maintaining originality from about 1975 to, well, today. If it has a 6-fuse fuseholder near the rear of the left inner fender, as mentioned above, and no 4-slot relay rack near the front of the left inner fender, its a 1968. In addition, the early cars, such as the '68's, lack extra factory "wrinkles" running laterally across the front inner fenders, designed to promote controlled collapse in the event of a frontal collision.

 

In the '70's, many of us were adding knee trim to our old '02's, in an effort to modernize them. And, although no one else here will admit it today, some of us -- uh... that would be me! -- thought that the square taillight front and rear panels improved the looks of the cars! Shame on me!

 

A few photos under the hood, in the luggage compartment, and in the passenger compartment, would allow us to give you lots of advice!


The first photo below shows the relay rack on the left inner fender of square taillight cars. The second photo below shows an early 1968 2002, with its “wrinkle-free” inner fenders — and 6-fuse fuse holder. The third photo shows the inner fenders on my ‘76, showing the wrinkles added to the inner fenders to promote a controlled crush.

 

Regards,

 

Steve

 

 

 

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