The Dirty Side of the Hobby – Fake Pedigree & Provenance

May 1, 2014 · Posted in News · Comments Off on The Dirty Side of the Hobby – Fake Pedigree & Provenance 

Forgeries and fakes have long been the scourge of the collector car hobby. This practice has continued thanks to many “entrepreneurs” who have established businesses selling “reproduction” tags and paperwork for older vehicles. Reproduction however would imply that it is a replica of the original but actually the term “reproduction” in this sense usually means counterfeit.

In the Corvette, Chevelle and Camaro market “aged” build sheets or tank sheets, made to order, to your specifications, have long been available. The number of counterfeiters who forge historical vehicle documents and paperwork is very concerning. Sham documents have been openly advertised for nearly two decades in Hemmings Motor News, eBay, Craigslist and on the internet. Some of this fake paperwork is so doctored that it actually smells old or in the case of Corvette tank sheets like gasoline. Of course if you interview any of the outfits that create these items you would quickly be told that they are novelty items. All too often, however, people are deceived by the very existence of this fake paperwork and lulled into a sense of security when viewing such a vehicle which may be for sale under the mistaken guise that it has pedigree and provenance, to wit, the counterfeit documentation.

An additional problem is that of “air cars” (cars created from “thin air” with nothing more than a VIN). With counterfeit documents, air cars are immediately given credence and pedigree. In additional to fake window stickers, build sheets, FMVSS stickers, Corvette Order Copy (“Tank Sticker”) there are also forgers out there that make new VIN tags, cowl tags, trim tags and others that offer the proper rivets or screws to affix the fake tags.

One method of outing some of the fakes in the hobby has been recently introduced.  A service of the National Corvette Restorer’s Society (NCRS) which tells owners when their cars were built and where they were delivered new has the potential for exposing several fraudulently presented classic Chevys. With the information provided by the NCRS, hobbyists will be able to verify their car’s paperwork, VIN number and cowl/trim tag to make sure that it all connects properly.

With the “birthday” of a car known, you can make sure that the VIN is consistent with that month of production and that the engine production stamping precedes the cars build date. Also with this information, you can determine if the assembly week code on the trim tag is consistent with the date given by the NCRS. Finally, if the vehicle has “paperwork” or a window sticker (or build sheet) the dealership should match that or be reasonably close in vicinity (e.g. same zone — dealer trades) to the dealership provided by the NCRS. If any of this information does not match or if the birthday of the car does not correlate to the VIN, engine stamping or cowl tag, then you have major problems. If the information does not match, it is wise to investigate the car carefully and, if necessary, hire and expert to examine the vehicle for signs of further molestation and restamping.

If you find that the vehicle you own is a clone or has doctored paperwork, a tampered VIN, restamped engine, transmission or replacement VIN tag, cowl tag or trim tag, you should immediately contact an attorney to learn about your legal rights and what recourse and options you may have.

 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 or by phone at 717-884-9010.  More information can be found at Http://


The Sincere Definition of Numbers Matching

January 2, 2011 · Posted in News · Comments Off on The Sincere Definition of Numbers Matching 

Numbers Matching: From a Legal Standpoint

By:  Bryan W. Shook, Esquire


A seller, an auction house, a broker, etc., all have express duties to not mislead buyers.  It is the presentation that entices and induces a prospective buyer to make an offer or bid on a car.  Often included within this presentation is the phrase “numbers matching”.  Rarely in any field does a single term mean so much; in the field of car collecting, the term “numbers matching” means everything; or does it?

The phrase “numbers matching” was coined an untold number of years ago to describe a vehicle which retained its original driveline (i.e. the driveline that was installed into the vehicle during its initial assembly at its manufacturer’s plant).  Specifically and most important in this definition is the engine; as this is the single most important aspect of a vehicle’s originality.  There are some in the hobby, however that would have you believe that the phrase “numbers matching” has parted ways with its original and understood definition.  These individuals would have you believe that the phrase “numbers matching” means that the driveline, has numbers appearing on its components, that look as though they could have been placed on there during the initial assembly process on the manufacturer’s line.  This is where the issue with restamped engines and transmissions becomes ever apparent.

This disingenuous play on words is polluting our hobby.

Numbers Matching means ORIGINAL; the phrase and the meaning of “numbers matching” have never parted company.  Numbers matching still means, as it always has, that the engine, transmission and rear axle are original to that particular vehicle.  For the phrase to have any other meaning would render it flawed and unnecessary.  The use of the phrase “numbers matching” in a disingenuous fashion opens the seller to a high level of legal exposure.  The buyer who learns after he purchases the vehicle that the vehicle, is not “as advertised”, has the right to revoke his acceptance of the vehicle and enjoys many protections that come along with legal revocation.  For example, these protections could include a statutorily created security interest in the vehicle up to the amount paid for the vehicle, plus certain expenses and other damages.

Any misleading use of the phrase “numbers matching” blackens the eye of the hobby.  The only reason one would use such a deceitful definition of “numbers matching” would be in a calculated attempt to mask the true nature of the vehicle for self-serving purposes.  This ultimately has a negative impact on the hobby. 

For more information on what your rights are in such a transaction, please call or email me, I would be more than happy to discuss this or any other matter concerning car collecting with you.

Bryan W. Shook, Esquire is a licensed Pennsylvania lawyer.  Attorney Shook’s office is headquartered in central Pennsylvania although his practice takes him across the country. During his career, Attorney Bryan Shook has become a powerful advocate for his clients and one of the foremost collector, antique and automotive fraud and misrepresentation attorneys in the country. He has successfully tried as well as amicably resolved cases throughout the United States.  Bryan Shook can be reached by e-mail at or by phone at 717-884-9010. 

Bid with Knowledge; Buy with Confidence – Vintage Automotive