Forensic Vehicle Fraud Investigations Available by Bryan W. Shook, Esquire

July 8, 2014 · Posted in News · Comments Off 

Forensic Vehicle Fraud Investigations conducted by Bryan W. Shook, Esquire

  • VIN Research (Numbers Matching, Rebodies, VIN swap, etc.)
  • Fraud/Misrepresentation
  • Breach of Contract
  • Auction Misrepresentation
  • Prior Owner Research
  • Title History
  • Acid Etching (macro-etching) to raise obliterated stampings
    • Engine Numbers
    • Confidential Vehicle Identification Numbers (VIN)
    • VIN derivatives
    • Serial Numbers
    • Chassis Numbers
  • Body Panel Date Codes/Run Numbers
  • Data Plate and Trim Tag/Cowl Tag Decoding
  • Pedigree/Provenance
  • Race History
  • Restoration Quality
  • Production Characteristics

Often times the true identity, authenticity, original options, RPO, VIN, production date, or assembly manner of a vehicle is unknown or perhaps it is called into question. Bryan W. Shook’s methodology and extensive network of resources assists with the accurate identification and authentication of vehicles. This same approach also aids in the identification of questionable vehicles and vehicle’s attributes, provenance, pedigree, options or characteristics.

To find the fakes and answer the questions raised by the vehicle takes time, diligence and most of all an extensive exploration of the vehicle itself and the supporting documentation, if any. Bryan Shook painstakingly researches the pedigree and provenance of the vehicles for which he is contracted to investigate or authenticate. If something is amiss, he will likely find it. Bryan Shook is available on short notice to forensically investigate or document your single car or entire collection. Many times Mr. Shook insists upon an in-person evaluation of the vehicle so that the nuances of the vehicle can be studied and recorded.

Authentication is proving (or disproving) what that the classic car is what the owner or seller says it is. To a layperson, the car’s body and presentation is what makes it recognizable. To successfully authenticate a vehicle the minutia must be evaluated such as aberrations in the font used to stamp vehicle identification numbers.

As a practicing licensed trial attorney and award winning vehicle restorer, Bryan W. Shook, relies upon his unique training in evaluating and weighing evidence when scrutinizing and interviewing locatable past owners. The final product and opinion of Bryan W. Shook is presented to the owner with all supporting documentation which can be merged into the vehicle’s dossier. If necessary and requested all communications and discoveries will be held with the strictest confidence.

Bryan W. Shook has also assembled what is believed to be the most complete database of information surrounding Pennsylvania Certificates of Title and historical title information. This knowledge base has proven invaluable in the research of historically important Pennsylvania vehicles.

Selected Projects to Date:

  • 1905 Thomas Model 27 60-horsepower (1st known U.S. produced 6cyl automobile)
  • 1912 Packard
  • 1913 Alco
  • 1913 Pierce Arrow
  • 1924 Rolls-Royce
  • 1929 Packard
  • 1930 duPont Model G (only known duPont with the optional aluminum cylinder head)
  • 1931 Chrysler
  • 1953 Corvette (sold for near world record price after research was completed)
  • 1961 Corvette
  • 1967 Camaro Z28 (proved early ownership history by Pennsylvania Title records)
  • 1967 Chevelle SS L78
  • 1967 Jaguar E-Type
  • 1967 Shelby GT500
  • 1969 Corvette L88
  • 1970 Chevelle LS6 convertible
  • 1972 El Camino
  • 1976 Corvette Stingray

For more information on how Bryan W. Shook, Esquire can assist you with your vehicle or collection, please call him at 717-975-9446 or email him at BShook@dplglaw.com for more information on Bryan W. Shook’s collector car practice, please visit http://www.vintagecarlaw.com.

 

Insist upon viewing the dossier when considering an antique or collector car

April 16, 2014 · Posted in News · Comments Off 

Importance of Pedigree, Provenance and Continuous History

In our previous article, The Economics of Car Valuations, we discussed some of the factors, generally, that drive the values of antique and collector vehicles. The present article highlights the importance of establishing, maintaining and proving the pedigree, provenance and continuous history of your collector car and assembling such in the vehicle’s dossier (i.e. file of records concerning the vehicle).

If you look at the cars that sell at the top of the market, they all have one thing in common; a noted history that is clear and transparent. In the collector car market, investors and hobbyists have a choice as to what car they buy. While it is true that they will usually buy the prettiest and most correct example that they can afford, they will also weigh the vehicle’s history. A vehicle’s history has always played a role in the value of the vehicle, but it has only been as of late that the vehicle’s history has played a tremendous role in the value of antique and collector vehicles.

If you are looking to purchase an antique car or expensive collector car insist on viewing the dossier which should include records, names of previous owners and services and restorations that the vehicle received.

If you are looking to sell your antique or collector car then it is incumbent upon you to document your vehicle and create the type of dossier of records that the buyers today are insisting upon.

What should be in the dossier?

At a minimum, the dossier should include a sheet of paper listing all of the important production notes and numbers of the vehicle. Ideally, there would be a binder or computer file containing photographs and narrative decoding of the various components and numbers on the vehicle. The file may also include pre-restoration photographs as well as restoration photographs and photographs of the vehicle with awards it has earned or notable places where it has been invited or displayed. Receipts and notes concerning the service performed on the vehicle should be included as should any affidavits of former owners.

The area in which most dossiers are deficient is with respect to historical documents, previous ownership and service records and notes. Attention to this subject is most important. Every vehicle has a story to tell, it is your job as the vehicle’s current custodian/caretaker to preserve that story for future generations. That is, in a sense what the dossier is, is it not?

Continuous History

The notion of Continuous History was first announced by Mr. Justice Otton in the case of Old Bentley Number One (Hubbard vs. Middlebridge Scimitar Ltd.) in the High Court of Justice – Queen’s Bench Division, Royal Courts of Justice, London in 1990. From that day forth in 1990, it became clear to everyone involved with Bentley Speed Sixes, in order for a car offered for sale to be described as a Speed Six, it was now essential that the vehicle be accompanied by a continuous history.

What is continuous history when it comes to antique and collector vehicles?

Continuous history is, according to the Courts in London, a full, unbroken and authentic set of documents which identify in a reliable manner who has owned the car, the uses that it has been put to and a description of its service history and any restoration, rebuilding or reconstruction work that the car has experienced throughout its life since originally leaving the factory.

The case of Brewer v. Mann ([2010] EWHC 2444 (QB)) demonstrated why continuous history documentation of a Bentley Speed Six is so important, however the importance was transportable to all other antique and collector cars. In Brewer v. Mann, the car had two significant features (or flaws) that made it essential for the description to be more detailed than simply stating that the car was a Speed Six car. These features (or flaws) were that the engine was not a Speed Six engine (i.e. non original engine) and the only surviving part of the original car was a small section of the chassis. There was also a lack of a continuous history for the years between 1930 and 1981 even though, during that period, the car had been completely reconstructed. Thus, there was no way that the car could be authenticated as a Speed Six or, indeed as a vintage Bentley.

In consequence, it was particularly important that the contractual description accurately described all the significant changes that occurred during the car’s lifetime and the seller found some way in which to authenticate those changes or stated in the description that they were not capable of being supported by a continuous history. The need for full documentary evidence of the relevant history of a Speed Six or any other collector vehicle is highlighted by the increased valuation placed upon the vehicle by auction goers and appraisers.

In sum, it is crucial that collector car owners establish dossiers for the cars they own and insist upon reviewing the dossier for cars that they are considering purchasing. Ultimately, the industry and all collectors should strive to have a documented continuous history for every collector car, no matter the importance or perceived value 0f that particular car.

Attorney Bryan W. Shook is not only a devoted automotive enthusiast, but is also an experience litigator who devotes a large portion of his law practice to helping other collectors and hobbyists understand today’s market and protect their automotive investments. Attorney Bryan W. Shook is a seasoned automotive collector and restorer and as such brings real world experience and firsthand knowledge to the table for his clients throughout the world. Although Bryan Shook is headquartered in Camp Hill, Pennsylvania (close proximity to Carlisle and Hershey), Attorney Bryan Shook is available anywhere for consultation, advice, and information, most times, on as short as a day’s notice. If you’d like more information about this topic or would like to speak with Attorney Bryan W. Shook please email him at BShook@dplglaw.com or by phone at 717-975-9446.  More information can be found at Http://www.vintagecarlaw.com.

Collector Car Market Experiences Billion Dollar Growth over last 10 years

April 16, 2014 · Posted in News · Comments Off 

Choosing the Right Legal Counsel Makes All the Difference

The collector car insurance company Hagerty Insurance is reporting that the collector car auction business in the United States is now a billion dollar business.  Reports suggest that the total gross auction sales in 2013 eclipsed $1,300,000,000.00 ($1.3 Billion) according to Hagerty.  Hagerty comparatively notes that in 2004 the figure was around $282,000,000.00 ($282 Million).  This is a billion dollar growth in the United States collector car auction market in ten short years! As Hagerty and other news outlets note, this growth is not simply confined to the United States, but the world-wide collector car market has soared similarly over the same time-period.

With this type of unprecedented growth within the collector car market, hobbyists, collectors and car investors need to be more vigilant than ever to protect their investments and their collections.  The market is ripe for fraud, misrepresentations and other nefarious actions, including ownership disputes and estate or probate litigation.  If you, unfortunately, find yourself on the cusp of a dispute or hauled into court or other legal tribunal over the title, ownership, pedigree, provenance or history of an antique or classic car or collectible, you must be prepared to present your side of the story in an intelligible, persuasive and cogent manner.  You would be best served by employing an attorney who fully understands the issues you face and the collector car market and car auction industry.

The handling of a legal matter concerning an antique or collector car is markedly different than other types of legal matters.  In the collector car hobby there are “terms of art” (i.e. trim tag, restamp, NOS, NOM, matching numbers, etc.) that must be defined for the Court in order for your position to be argued effectively.  Furthermore, many times it will not simply be enough to define the term, but rather the term itself and its application to the facts of the case are what the case’s ultimate determination may turn upon.  This is where it pays to hire an attorney who not only “speaks your language” but also knows how the frauds are perpetrated and how to persuasively represent your position to the Court or Jury.

Ultimately, collectors must be hypervigilant in the current market and careful to employ the right legal counsel and other professionals with respect to their dealings, collections, and businesses.  The market is constantly changing, not only in its growth but also in its technicalities and breadth, a collector’s diligence is of paramount importance.

Bryan W. Shook, Esquire is an attorney in Camp Hill, Pennsylvania whose practice areas include vehicle fraud, dealership fraud, VIN matters, title fraud, VIN error, estate ownership questions and general collector car problem resolution.  Attorney Bryan W. Shook is not only a devoted automotive enthusiast, but is also an experience litigator who devotes a large portion of his law practice to helping other collectors and hobbyists understand today’s market and protect their automotive investments.

Attorney Bryan W. Shook is not only a devoted automotive enthusiast, but is also an experience litigator who devotes a large portion of his law practice to helping other collectors and hobbyists understand today’s market and protect their automotive investments. Attorney Bryan W. Shook is a seasoned automotive collector and restorer and as such brings real world experience and firsthand knowledge to the table for his clients throughout the world. Although Bryan Shook is headquartered in Camp Hill, Pennsylvania (close proximity to Carlisle and Hershey), Attorney Bryan Shook is available anywhere for consultation, advice, and information, most times, on as short as a day’s notice. If you’d like more information about this topic or would like to speak with Attorney Bryan W. Shook please email him at BShook@dplglaw.com or by phone at 717-975-9446.  More information can be found at Http://www.vintagecarlaw.com.

Benefits of Using an Attorney as an Escrow Agent to Protect Yourself in a Collector Car Sale or Transaction

January 28, 2013 · Posted in News · Comments Off 

Benefits of using an attorney as an escrow agent to protect yourself in a collector car transaction

By: Bryan W. Shook, Esquire

Email: bshook@dplglaw.com

Using an attorney to act as an escrow agent is one of the most effective ways to safeguard yourself from the pitfalls of buying vehicles sight unseen from far away locations.  In a perfect world collector car transactions would all be “above board” and transparent however as we all know this, unfortunately is not always the case.  That screaming deal on eBay or Craigslist may be a great deal, but it may also be the biggest mistake you make this year.  There are many hazards upon which a prospective buyer may happen, although most happen with the consummation of the sale, especially if the vehicle is not viewed, in person, by the buyer. 

How can using an attorney as an escrow agent help protect you in a collector car transaction?

An attorney as an escrow agent has more inherent safeties as opposed to using a broker.   Attorneys are regulated by their state’s bar association or their state’s supreme court.  Brokers are usually not regulated at all and only subject to their state’s vehicle board, if regulated at all.  Money placed into an attorney’s escrow account is subject to strict accounting oversight and may only be paid out with the client’s consent and agreement. 

As an attorney familiar with the nuances and pitfalls of collector car transactions I can offer many safeguarding services, professionally, discreetly and unobtrusively to preserve the transaction and yet protect you the client throughout the sale.

I offer the following services:

  • Pre-Purchase Inspection Review
  • In-person auction assistance to both bidders and sellers
  • Escrow Agent
  • Sales Contract Drafting/Review
  • Private Treaty Sales (start to finish)
  • Independent evaluation of title documents prior to consummation of sale
  • Vehicle research, including verification of provenance and pedigree
  • Forensic investigatory services (number & stamp investigation, make and model investigation, production anomalies, etc.) 
  • Powers of Attorney
  • Import/Export
  • Competing Claims of Ownership
  • Title Defense
  • Help safeguard against misrepresentations and fraud

By utilizing my services, you are not only protecting yourself in the transaction, but you are also making a further investment in the value of your purchase. 

Bid with knowledge. Buy with confidence.

Attorney Bryan W. Shook is not only a devoted automotive enthusiast, but is also an experience litigator who devotes a large portion of his law practice to helping other collectors and hobbyists understand today’s market and protect their automotive investments. Attorney Bryan W. Shook is a seasoned automotive collector and restorer and as such brings real world experience and firsthand knowledge to the table for his clients throughout the world. Although Bryan Shook is headquartered in Camp Hill, Pennsylvania (close proximity to Carlisle and Hershey), Attorney Bryan Shook is available anywhere for consultation, advice, and information, most times, on as short as a day’s notice. If you’d like more information about this topic or would like to speak with Attorney Bryan W. Shook please email him at BShook@dplglaw.com or by phone at 717-975-9446.  More information can be found at Http://www.vintagecarlaw.com.

Rebodied Cars … what to do …

June 29, 2012 · Posted in News · Comments Off 

Rebodies:
What’s the big deal???

(By: Bryan W. Shook, Esquire)

BShook@dplglaw.com

717-975-9446

I’ve been getting quite a few calls lately seeking information on re-bodied vehicles.  The term “rebody” is a term of art used throughout our hobby to denote a vehicle whose original factory body has been replaced with another “donor” body.  The donor body is then given the original body’s VIN, serial number, data card, trim tag, cowl tag, etc. and then usually and most unfortunately sold to an unsuspecting buyer as the original, real deal automobile.  This problem is complicated when the rebodied car is an “air car” which did not exist prior to the rebody.  Specifically what happens is someone dreams up a car or has the paperwork from a desirable car and makes it from “thin air” using the donor body as the starting point.  All of a sudden, the car has pedigree, provenance and history if the builder can dream up a good enough story.  This is problematic as you can plainly see.

There are several legal issues when it comes to a rebodied automobile.  The most important issue is whether or not the rebody was disclosed to you when you purchased the vehicle.  If the rebody was not disclosed to you how can it be said you negotiated with the seller on equal footing.  Another issue comes from the fact that rarely are rebodys done properly.  Were the police notified of the body replacement as required under some state laws?  Did the seller give you two Certificates of Titles?  (Remember the best bodies come from good cars and in today’s day and age, good cars get restored … was the body stolen and the subject vehicle the product of a “chop shop”)  Did the seller give you photographs of the original body to evidence the condition of the original body?  Do you have confirmation that the original body has been destroyed? (This is usually where the State Police come in as this is where the stories start about two cars registered under the same VIN)

Without the safeguards outlined above, you can never been shore that the vehicle you purchased truly belongs to you.  Under the law you would have a breach of the warranty of title claim if any third party were to ever come after you claiming you own the body to their car.  The problem is  that if you know the car has been rebodied and you can’t provide the above information to a new purchaser you could be just as liable as the seller who sold the car to you should you not disclose what you know to a prospective purchaser.

If you have a rebodied car or think you do, this is a serious matter.  Rebodied cars can be nearly unsaleable and always have questions.  There was way to rectify the situation and there are ways to unwind the transaction which unknowingly left you with the rebody.  In any event, please call me and we can discuss your options and to what extent your car may have been rebodied.

Attorney Bryan W. Shook is not only a devoted automotive enthusiast, but is also an experience litigator who devotes a large portion of his law practice to helping other collectors and hobbyists understand today’s market and protect their automotive investments. Attorney Bryan W. Shook is a seasoned automotive collector and restorer and as such brings real world experience and firsthand knowledge to the table for his clients throughout the world. Although Bryan Shook is headquartered in Camp Hill, Pennsylvania (close proximity to Carlisle and Hershey), Attorney Bryan Shook is available anywhere for consultation, advice, and information, most times, on as short as a day’s notice. If you’d like more information about this topic or would like to speak with Attorney Bryan W. Shook please email him at BShook@dplglaw.com or by phone at 717-975-9446.  More information can be found at Http://www.vintagecarlaw.com.

Bid with Knowledge; Buy with Confidence – Vintage Automotive, LLC

Mid Atlantic Regional NCRS Meet – Gettysburg, PA – May 6-9-2010

April 27, 2010 · Posted in News · Comments Off 

NCRS REGIONAL MEET IN GETTYSBURG, PENNSYLVANIA SCHEDULED FOR MAY 6-8, 2010

By: Bryan W. Shook, Esquire

Email: bshook@dplglaw.com

 

Call all Corvette enthusiasts, after a long winter’s wait, the Mid-Atlantic Chapter of the National Corvette Restorers Society is hosting the Gettysburg Regional NCRS Meet on May 6-8, 2010.  This is a can’t miss event for East Coast Corvette Enthusiasts.

Several special vehicles are scheduled to be on display including a low mileage, all original, Polo Green, 1994 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 formerly of the Chip Miller Collection.  The car’s current owner, Andrew Saft of Harrisburg, is proud to offer this important ZR1 for flight judging.  Corvettes released from the prized Chip Miller Collection have been known throughout the hobby for years for their quality, provenance and pedigree.  This NCRS appearance represents a coming out of sorts for the current Saft Collection ZR1.  While ANY ZR1 is exciting both to see and drive, this particular all original ZR1 is sure to please the spectators and enthusiasts that get an opportunity to view it at the 2010 Mid-Atlantic Regional Meet next week.

 The NCRS flight process is not a process to be taken lightly, only the best cars are awarded flight awards and any owner who leaves Gettysburg with such an award has surely added much deserved province to his or her beloved Corvette.  Best of Luck!

Attorney Bryan W. Shook is not only a devoted automotive enthusiast, but is also an experience litigator who devotes a large portion of his law practice to helping other collectors and hobbyists understand today’s market.  Attorney Bryan Shook is available throughout the United States for consultation, advice, and information. If you’d like more information about this topic or would like to speak with Attorney Bryan W. Shook please email him at BShook@dplglaw.com.

 

NCRS # 51181

 

Bid with knowledge. Buy with confidence. – Vintage Automotive

Jury Verdict: Restamped Engine is not “original” “number’s matching” engine!!!

March 6, 2009 · Posted in News · Comments Off 

Bryan W. Shook, Esquire

2132 Market Street

Camp Hill, Pennsylvania 17011

1-800-287-1202

BShook@dplglaw.com 

Des Moines, Iowa (1-29-2009) – Jury rules that seller breached contract when he did not disclose a 1969 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 (VIN 124379L524309) did not retain its original engine.  

 

The case began in June 2003 when the Defendant, David Reyes, acquired the Camaro from a co-worker for $15,000.00.  When the Defendant acquired the Camaro from his co-worker, he testified that it did not have its original engine and that another engine was given to him by his co-worker at the time of the sale.  This other engine was the crux of the case.  

 

The story goes that when the engine in the vehicle began to run poorly and smoke a little, the Defendant had the engine that his co-worker had given him rebuilt.  Apparently, his co-worker had located the other engine and choose it because it was date coded appropriately for this particular December 1969 built Camaro.  The story goes that the co-worker had the vehicle identification number of the Camaro stamped into this replacement engine, making the replacement engine look identical to the original engine, prior to the Defendant acquiring it.  

 

In April 2004, Defendant placed the newly rebuilt, but non-original, restamped engine in the Camaro and placed the Camaro for sale through the internet auction website, eBay.com.  The Defendant placed the vehicle up for auction with a “Buy it Now®” price of $35,000.00, over twice what he paid for the vehicle less than a year earlier.  This may not seem to be a big deal, but in this case, the numbers on the non-original engine were stamped so well, that even the Defendant’s own expert witness on cross examination by Attorney Shook, at the trial could not tell they were restamped.  No where in the description did the Defendant ever say the vehicle did not have its original engine and he never disclosed this fact.  

 

Specifically, the Defendant advertised the car has being “Numbers Matching DZ302 Original,” “unmolested,” “low mileage,” and “as close to being a true survivor as any you’ll find.”  The auction ended with the Plaintiff, Daryl Hansmeier of Davenport, Iowa buying the Camaro for $25,200.00.

 

 It was never disclosed to Plaintiff that the engine in the vehicle was not the original engine, as a matter of fact, the engine restamping was not disclosed to Mr. Hansmeier until February 27, 2007 nearly three years after the sale of the vehicle.  

 

In March 2007, the buyer, Mr. Hansmeier contacted noted classic car fraud attorney, Bryan W. Shook (Camp Hill, Pennsylvania) to help him resolve this matter.  An inspection of the Camaro was performed by world-renowned Camaro guru, Jerry MacNeish (Eldersburg, Maryland).  Upon inspection, Mr. MacNeish confirmed that while the Camaro was a genuine Z/28 model, it did have a restamped, non-original engine.  Mr. MacNeish valued the car at $19,500.00 at the time of purchase, meaning that Mr. Hansmeier paid too much for the vehicle when he purchased it.

 

Local counsel, David Hellstern of the Kreamer Law Firm in West Des Moines, Iowa and Attorney Shook subsequently filed suit on behalf of the Plaintiff, Daryl Hansmeier and his wife for Breach of Contract, Fraud, Material Misrepresentation and Breach of Warranties.  

 

A three day trial was held at the Polk County Iowa Courthouse on January 26-28, 2009 with the Honorable Chief Judge Arthur Gamble presiding..  The Defendant, Mr. Reyes’, defense was that he and the Plaintiff, Mr. Hansmeier, had different meanings of the terms of the contract, namely the term, “Numbers Matching DZ 302 Original.”  The Plaintiff put on the testimony of noted Camaro historian and chief judge of concours judging at the Camaro Nationals in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, Jerry MacNeish, who testified that the phrase, “Numbers Matching DZ 302 Original,” means, to someone in the market for a 1969 Camaro Z/28 that they are looking at a vehicle with its original 302 cubic inch engine with it’s original stampings.  Mr. MacNeish stated unequivocally that a person without specialized knowledge would not be able to tell that the engine had been restamped and accordingly wouldn’t know that he had been deceived until someone told him.  

 

The jury retired to the deliberation room early in the afternoon of Wednesday, January 28, 2009 and quickly returned a unanimous verdict finding that the seller, David Reyes was liable for breach of contract for failing to deliver to Mr. Hansmeier the 1969 Camaro he promised him, specifically, a 1969 Camaro Z/28 retaining its original, correct, numbers matching engine.

 Attorney Bryan W. Shook, is a true car guy, in every sense of the work, he is not only an collector, restorer and hobbyist, but is also and attorney who devotes a large portion of his practice to helping other collectors and hobbyists when they find themselves the victim of receiving something other than how it was advertised.  Currently Attorney Shook is involved in automotive deception cases and represents clients in nearly a dozen states.   Attorney Shook had this to say about the case, “Let it be known, that misrepresentations in the collector car hobby will not be dealt with lightly, the court system proved this today by a unanimous jury verdict in favor of full disclosure and truthful dealings.”