Whats legal? Frame Swaps, Importing, etc - Defender Source
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  #1  
Old May 9th, 2006, 12:02 PM
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Question Whats legal? Frame Swaps, Importing, etc

Admin note: The D-90 Source assumes no responsibility for the accuracy of the following information. Site members are welcome to add or discuss, but please keep the thread factual.

I'm starting a thread to discuss the legal implications of frame swaps, licensing imported non-NAS trucks as Series rigs, etc. This topic came up in one of the For Sale threads and someone suggested starting a thread just for this topic.

OPINION:
On the one hand, licensing a non-NAS vehicle as a Series truck seems to me like cheating. On the other, swapping out components (such as the frame) to an older truck strikes me as a legit upgrade. I'm not sure where to draw the line.
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  #2  
Old May 9th, 2006, 12:07 PM
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That all depends on the state and their registration rules. In NY, I believe that things are registered by the body shell and a frame swap is OK as long as it fits a few specifics. Biggest things to make sure of is that if you get emissions tested you can almost never swap in an older motor, and make sure that the truck fits all the regulations for the year it has to be registered. I really have no idea about swapping engine types (I.E. gas to diesel).

Best bet is to research your states regulations on the matter.

-Hans
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  #3  
Old May 9th, 2006, 12:22 PM
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I suppose there are different levels- Some people think that if you fool the DMV, then once you get over on them it's now legal. That's not really how it works- the truck isn't 'grandfathered' in because you successfully tricked an unsuspecting DMV office worker.
If you had a title and chassis from a 109 and imported a Defender body and assembled it, it's still a 109. If you had a title and chassis from a 109 and imported a whole Defender and didn't use the 109 chassis, but moved the VIN plate over- that's felony fraud.
The most common fraud is just sticking a Series VIN plate on a Defender. Most DMV workers or small town cops won't know the difference. Tricking them into signing off your paperwork doesn't make the truck then 'legal.' It means you were successful at the act of felony fraud.
EPA mandates are either coming or in place (I can't recall the effective dates) that prohibit the removal of ANY emissions equipment from any vehicle of any age. All the guys who removed air pumps off old MG's etc are going to have to find them again- especially if their area has emissions testing. I areas without emissions testing, chances are slim you'll be found "out of compliance." Now, to install that TD5 in something like a 95NAS D90, one must remove the catalytic converters... which changes the status of the certified emissions system on that vehicle- technically not a legal swap unless you have the truck recertified.
Enforcement of the Federal level stuff is not common- usually all you have to do is 'trick' the state level folks. The vast majority of illegal vehicles are VIN swaps. People claiming to have built a new 110 or 130 from a classic or "VIN donor" but they really didn't... it's just a falsified VIN.
Take for instance the 86 Defender with 66 title... it's not on the 66 frame, so how is it 'entitled' to use the 66 title? It's not.
There are some loopholes that can work- a certificate of origin from a chassis manufacturer could theoretically be obtained for an "antique" chassis with built-in "conversion" to coil springs. The certificate would specify a model year for which the frame was intended. The engine number can also be used to generate a title for a kit car- that's how many kit cars are titled as antiques, based on vintage engines. There are possiblities there- however the definition of a kit car has changed in the last decade. Now, a kit car definition is an actual kit manufactured by a company to BE a kit- not a Defender with the body removed and sent in a separate shipping container.
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  #4  
Old May 9th, 2006, 12:26 PM
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I believe that you are correct with NY State regs. For clarification, my 110 was not imported under the auspices of a 109.
It was bought in England, broken down in parts, and imported as parts. No import papers needed. I beleive that Mountain Rovers as dealers have the capability of salvaging titles. So a '66 title was salvaged, and used to build the 110. A comparable situation would be a custom hot rod build up titled as 30's classic car. The builder can salvage an old Ford modelT title, then build a custom frame and custom rig based on the title. It's reall all good as long as one meets the requirements. Once titled, It's no problem titling anywhere else in the US, as long as you pass emissions. And passing emissions for a classic car (or 1966 Rover) is not a problem.
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Old May 9th, 2006, 12:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thewap
I believe that you are correct with NY State regs. For clarification, my 110 was not imported under the auspices of a 109.
It was bought in England, broken down in parts, and imported as parts. No import papers needed. I beleive that Mountain Rovers as dealers have the capability of salvaging titles. So a '66 title was salvaged, and used to build the 110. A comparable situation would be a custom hot rod build up titled as 30's classic car. The builder can salvage an old Ford modelT title, then build a custom frame and custom rig based on the title. It's reall all good as long as one meets the requirements. Once titled, It's no problem titling anywhere else in the US, as long as you pass emissions. And passing emissions for a classic car (or 1966 Rover) is not a problem.
Sounds familiar.
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  #6  
Old May 9th, 2006, 12:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thewap
I believe that you are correct with NY State regs. For clarification, my 110 was not imported under the auspices of a 109.
It was bought in England, broken down in parts, and imported as parts. No import papers needed. I beleive that Mountain Rovers as dealers have the capability of salvaging titles. So a '66 title was salvaged, and used to build the 110. A comparable situation would be a custom hot rod build up titled as 30's classic car. The builder can salvage an old Ford modelT title, then build a custom frame and custom rig based on the title. It's reall all good as long as one meets the requirements. Once titled, It's no problem titling anywhere else in the US, as long as you pass emissions. And passing emissions for a classic car (or 1966 Rover) is not a problem.
I would disagree that once title is issued it can be re-titled elswhere. I have heard several stories and confirmed them myself that a state can refuse title to a car. It has happened and you need to jump thru many hoops just to be able to legally drive the truck again if it does. And you still have to sort the title issue out. I spoke with a gentlemen in the NW in length how WA state refused a legit VA title from a grey market vehicle and took title away from his truck.

Titling in general is at the priviledge of the state. So to say that it's Ok in NY and therefore would be OK in Il is way off base. In Illinois such a D110 would have to be registered as a kit car. Without excpetion if you do not have the orignal title of the major components of the truck as it sits. The rolling chasis and body are indeed used to verify the vehicle. So to get title here in Il you would have to register it as a kit car. You would need every receipt fromt the build and bring them to the mandated inspection. The year of the engine or rebuild date of the engine must be available and it would be subject to emmissions standards for that year.

The truck must pass inspection and safety tests as well.

So you really have to educate yourself to the laws you are subject to in the state in which you are domiciled.

Personally I'd rather have a true NAS 110 as opposed to a grey market anything. Provenance is as important as the vehicle itself. Just because one person titled it and bought it doesn't mean someone elese will.

As far as the Federal Governement not paying attention, that's bunk as not too long ago 5 2005 110's were impounded and crushed as they entered the country.
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  #7  
Old May 9th, 2006, 01:31 PM
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A few links to add to the thread

NHTSA FAQ
http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/cars/rules/...ges/page2.html

Importing a vehicle under 25 years of age as Parts
http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/cars/rules/...l#Anchor-42790

Vehicle importation page
http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/cars/rules/import/

Vehicle eligibility list
http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/cars/rules/...LIG010906.html

Lists the 1993 110 & 1997 D90

There is a registered importer that claims to be able to bring in Defenders including diesels.

http://www.skytoprover.com/roverfreedom.htm

Follow-up Post:

Now playing devils advocate here is my question.

As seen above in the importing as parts option it looks like you can bring in pretty much anything as parts if you follow the rules. Now what is to stop me from purchasing a 2001 D110 bringing the body over and installing it on my 109” purchased here in the states?

Now a year passes and the frame is shot on the 109 and I decide it would be nice to add coils springs and a fresh motor while I am at it. Now my 109 has almost no parts on it that are from the original 109” and resembles a D110.

Is that illegal? All I did was replace worn parts with new or salvaged parts
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  #8  
Old May 9th, 2006, 01:52 PM
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On the emissions note that varies from county to county, but they all have a time limit, they don't expect you to have your original or like original exhaust on anything over 25 years, some places ten years. My rule is if it feels illegal, then it probably is. As for the state to state comment that is completely accurate, it just depends. In my experience if you keep the original parts that you replaced, not just reassembled and show them with documentation to all the new parts you can yourself get kit car status, it still becomes tricky transfering from state to state, as well as most of these vehicles have to be bonded.
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  #9  
Old May 9th, 2006, 01:58 PM
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I agree that if you are in the process of building or importing a vehicle in your state, you will be held to standards of that State to title it. That is the builder's problem or the dealership's problem. If they do not meet the standards, they will be punished for it and imported cars (whole cars) will have to pass the scrutiny of DOT, EPA, DMV etc. or else get crushed.

But what has that got to do with my vehicle? That is a manufacturing or importing problem with dealers, or when building a kit car. I am not a builder, and the car allready has been titled.

The 110 I am selling has allready passed the Standards of titling in Montana, and obviously passed the requirements. Re-titling it to a NY title when I bought it was the standard that everyone must meet when purchasing a new or old car. ie: show transfer of title, receipt, pay taxes, get new registration and new title. Emissions test and safety check have to be met. That is the case for all cars. Once you own title, transfer of title thru purchase is not a problem. Standards of safety and emissions apply to all vehicles. Standards of emissions for a 60's car is much more relaxed. The 110 also passed standards of emissions for a modern D90.
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Old May 9th, 2006, 02:03 PM
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The Fed Gov't *is* paying attention, but cannot be everywhere at all times and many people get away with it. If caught, the fines and penalties can be severe.
Bringing over a chassis and putting newer bodies on them is a legitimate thing- but if after getting a classic title one swaps in all the remaining newer parts to make it essentially the newer vehicle may bring some scrutiny. It would be difficult to assert that the original intention wasn't to assemble what is really an illegal vehicle with fraudulent paperwork. There's a difference between a 2002 D110 and a 110 body on a Series frame and running gear. There's late model 110's running antique plates- they weren't 'built' but were VIN swaps... absolutely a flagrant violation. I think if a truck is truly built from the ground up, that's a different scenario than one that is just a number swap but at the same time if it's not really based on an antique and the owner uses a VIN from another unrelated vehicle, that's just sh*tty.
I have a file FULL of series vehicle VINs from parted out or destroyed trucks- are some of you guys saying it's legal and ethical to use those to generate a title for a partially disassembled Defender? I certainly don't think so, but it seems that a lot of people think that's ok.
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  #11  
Old May 9th, 2006, 02:11 PM
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Basically, what Steve says in post #3 and what Eric says in post #6 are correct. There are two different issues, Federal regs, which pertain to importing and emissions mostly, and state laws. State laws will vary slightly but one thing does not change from state to state. VIN switching is a felony and if you get caught doing it or in possession of such a vehicle, you will have a gun stuck in your face, get handcuffed and taken to jail. I have personally done it to people. Steve is dead on regarding fooling a DMV worker. You may get away with it, but your still a felon. Which leads to Eric's statement that just because you fool a DMV worker in one state and got title, doesn't mean that you'll be able to do it again in another state. Some states are very strict on this and target this kind of thing specifically. My department had two officers in every office in the state who did nothing but this all day long. You can't use a VIN from one chassis to get a title, then use another chassis to build a newer truck. Felony.

Follow-up Post:

Quote:
Originally Posted by thewap
Once you own title, transfer of title thru purchase is not a problem.
This is absolutely NOT true!!!
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  #12  
Old May 9th, 2006, 02:16 PM
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Phil,

Was the info in your post about my question or the 1966 Defender?
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Old May 9th, 2006, 02:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dave_lucas
Phil,

Was the info in your post about my question or the 1966 Defender?
Dave - A little of both, I guess. In your example, I think you would have a problem. If you end up with different VINs on the vehicle (one on the frame doesn't match one on the body) then you have a problem. At the very least it would be impounded and gone over with a fine tooth comb if that was discovered.
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Old May 9th, 2006, 02:51 PM
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I understand that vin switching is illegal. But is building a truck under a salvaged title illegal? One can upgrade a 109 to modern standards legally. One can also swap frames legally. And who is to say that the frame on my 110 is not a 109 customized to a 110 ? not even I really knows the truth to that detail. Does that warrant sticking a gun in ones face?
The D90 site seems to hold in reverence anything to do with diesel conversion re-powering of NAS Diesels. Knowing for a fact that the engines are not EPA approved, and cannot be imported in full cars in the US. Importing the engines
as parts and sticking them into NAS D90's doesn't seem to bother anyone here. What do you guys tell the DMV when you are re-titling to diesel engine specs? does that warrant getting a gun stuck in your face? or is it " as long as the requirements are met" kind of deal. I never saw anyone on this forum harping about a felony on that one, or sticking to the rules of original equipment. Does that mean that all hybrids should be subject to extreme scrutiny? or that customizing a D90 should be done with all safety rules applied and proofs of original equipment? how does sliders, stainless steel exhausts, winch bumpers, roof racks, super chargers, intercoolers etc.. rate as "original equipment?
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Old May 9th, 2006, 03:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PT94D90
Dave - A little of both, I guess. In your example, I think you would have a problem. If you end up with different VINs on the vehicle (one on the frame doesn't match one on the body) then you have a problem. At the very least it would be impounded and gone over with a fine tooth comb if that was discovered.
I would assume that a new frame would not come with a VIN # but I might be mistaken. Assuming that new frame/ new galvanized frames come with a VIN that would put all of the NAS Defenders that have swapped frames in the same situation of 2 VIN # correct?

However I suspect that they do not come with a VIN on them so you would only have the original VIN from your 109".

I guess what I am really trying to get at is at what point does upgrading become illegal?

For example
Putting a newer body on us titled 109 to make it look like a 110?
Putting a coil sprung chassis under a US titled 109”
Modifying a NAS 90 into a 130?
Modifying a US titled 109 into a D110?
Taking a completely burnt NAS 110 and turning it into a 130 pickup?
Turning a NAS 90 into a 110 and adding a 4.6?
Turning a US titled 109 into a 110 and adding a 4.6?

At what point does it become illegal? When you change frames? When you change bodies? When you change the motor + body + frame?

As far as I can tell all 3 items are legal to change in my area but does changing all 3 make it illegal?

I am in no way condoning this or saying this is the right thing to do. I am just trying to play devils advocate and gain a better understanding of individual’s perception surrounding this topic.
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  #16  
Old May 9th, 2006, 03:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SYoung
There are some loopholes that can work- a certificate of origin from a chassis manufacturer could theoretically be obtained for an "antique" chassis with built-in "conversion" to coil springs. The certificate would specify a model year for which the frame was intended.
I was under the impression that the VIN and/or part that needed to remain as you swapped parts was not the frame but rather the bulkhead (using yanqui terms). As long as you kept the '66 bulkhead, you could put the rest of the newer 110 body around it, give yourself a new galvy frame and still be 'good' [good as long as you arent stretching things -for arguments sake]. Ignoring the motor for now - they are another story for another post.
Tieing the VIN to the frame doesnt make so much sense in that a frame swap in a legit Defenders is now not an uncommon thing (galvy frames, dealing with rusted out frames etc.) If the VIN was tied to the frame, these trucks would now all be in limbo status.
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Old May 9th, 2006, 03:37 PM
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I think that the big thing we try to steer people away from here is the blanket view that importing current production trucks is an easy thing to do without potential drawbacks. No matter how you try to do it, there is always the chance that your disassembled 2004 D110 is going to be snagged by customs which can potentially cause you a big legal and financial problem. IF you are willing to take that risk, and understand that there have been cases of 6 figure fines AND confiscaton in the past, then go for it. Same with a re-title job on a truck that is already in the country. You may get away with it, and you may not. But be prepared for the costs if you get busted, and don't say we didn't warn you.

I do agree that the non-EPA engines are a potential problem and have been researching other options. But then again, I also try to keep my emission equipment intact as well. I hope that we soon see better availability of the current crop of Jeep/VM and other certified diesels. I would also like to see the newer Rover diesels like the TDV6 get an EPA stamp possibly, and start shipping diesel LR3's to the US. Until then, I'm sticking with gasoline.

I think people are more lenient with promoting the diesel swaps because the state inspections are either non-existant or don't check the EPA requirements so the risk is much much less. Since nobody really inspects for DOT/EPA compliance, there is little to no chance of getting caught. Here in NY, all you do is fill out the form that says fuel type and # of cylinders at the motor vehicle office. It's up to the inspection stations to determine if it's legal, and since diesels don't get emissions tested it will never get checked. I view this similar to people removing catalytic convertors and other emissions removals. I don't like it, but all I can do is try to talk them out of it. They're going to do it anyways, but I don't have to help them either.

-Hans

Follow-up Post:

Scoloco: I believe you are correct on that about the bulkead, because of the unique modular construction of a Defender body. Most other car bodies go from the firewall all the way back to the bumper, but in a Defender it's multiple pieces that aren't permanently connected in any way. But once again, it DOES vary from state to state.

Dave: Again, check local laws. But I have seen 2 out of 3 requirements before, saying that you can swap 2 major components out of the three (Body, Frame, Engine) in vehicles that have a separate body and frame. But then there are usually 'equivilant' parts rules as well, that state as long as the new piece is a direct unmodified replacement, than it doesn't count as a swap in the case of structural components. Engines get a lot more in detail though since emissions comes into play there.

-Hans
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  #18  
Old May 9th, 2006, 03:46 PM
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Marc,

Anything involving a felony warrants getting a gun stuck in your face. It's standard operating procedure on a felony stop or when one is suspected. If you think otherwise, you're being naiive. As far as some of the other mods that you mentioned, certainly some are illegal, but infractions rather than felonies. I installed an aftermarket spare tire carrier and took my stock rear bumper off. That made me illegal because I had no reflectors and no bumper. Both infractions.

As I said before, everyone is an adult and makes their own decisions. I'm not advocating anything and I'm not judging anyone. This is an informational thread so don't take it personally. I'm not slamming you and I'm not trying to jam you up. Some guys are unsure about what is legal and what is not.
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Old May 9th, 2006, 04:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PT94D90
Some guys are unsure about what is legal and what is not.
Which is a good reason if you are unsure what is illegal...don't try it.
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  #20  
Old May 9th, 2006, 04:16 PM
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Thanks for that, I get a little nervous when someone starts talking about guns in faces... For myself I cannot say wether Mountain Rovers or ECR or other builders and importers commit felonies. As far as I am concerned as a buyer, I rely on LR outfits to smooth out Vin title issues for me. I can only say, it has not been a problem in Montana or NY.
I would however worry about such things if I was in the business of building and importing. It would be interesting to hear from those guys?

which begs the question from Tawayama's DEF145, is it a Ford, LD, classic or NAS spec?
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