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Chassis Number/VIN Fraud
Last Post 20 Feb 2020 12:21 PM by iso pro. 8 Replies.
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John Shostrom
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11 Jul 2015 04:33 PM  
Regarding Reference Number 363510, lot 2119 of the upcoming Auctions America by RM event in Santa Monica, California:

The car referred to is NOT "one of five" James Young S2 Continentals made in lefthand drive. There were only four of them made in lefthand drive. This car is in reality Chassis Number BC41BY, a righthand drive chassis number. It was indeed delivered to Mme M. Colombo in Switzerland. BUT, the car is not what the auction house has described:
1. The car has been converted from righthand drive to lefthand drive.
2. The chassis number has been fraudulently changed to BC41LBY, the 'L' suggesting it was originally built in lefthand drive.

This is a serious issue. Obviously, an original lefthand drive car will bring a substantially higher amount at point of sale. In this case, with an estimate of up to US$280,000 that equates to a premium of at least US$100,000.

Imagine a buyer's surprise when they discover that Chassis Number BC41LBY never existed, and there is no such car! Not only is their registration and insurance invalid, but they are at risk of having the car seized by the authorities! Imagine, also, the surprise when Auctions America are sued for selling a bogus car!

One assumes that the auction houses are knowledgable, but they are not. When I contacted Auctions America, they were quite blazé about it, and the car is still listed at the time of this writing.

Caveat Emptor! It is very easy to remove an old chassis plate on one of these cars and replace it with a forgery. (By the way, I notice that the photograph of the chassis number plate has been removed from the listing since my contacting Auctions America). I have saved a photograph of the bogus chassis number plate, and one can easily see the chipped paint on the bulkhead when the switch was made. But, that is what is called the "public" identification. The "private" (stamped on the chassis rail near the starter solenoid) is much more difficult to change, and it would be quite obvious.

This treachery is rampant, especially in the Rolls-Royce and Bentley world. Let's hope that Auctions America do the right thing, and that an unsuspecting buyer is not defrauded.
Webhost
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15 Jul 2015 07:46 PM  
What do you base your chassis number information on?

While "Bentley Continental: Corniche & Azure Second Edition" by Martin Bennett, ISBN 1845842103, page 239 lists it as chassis BC41BY, the archives of the RROC also reference this car as BC41LBY.

Do you have a copy of the factory's build sheet? I wonder if the heritage.trust@rolls-royce.com would give a definite statement based on factory records?
John Shostrom
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16 Jul 2015 03:58 AM  
I have contacted the Archives at the RREC. The RROC is not a reliable source; I have seen altered build sheets from them as well as cars (eg SCC95) relisted (LSCC95) after they've had their chassis numbers altered. As I was told by a member of the Board of Directors of the RROC, they depend on the integrity of their members providing correct chassis details. Enough said.
N Craig Bryant
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16 Jul 2015 05:01 AM  
Mr. Shostrom's comments are spot on. I know of several cars in the Rolls-Royce Owners Club incorrectly listed/described because the RROC does not properly vet the information given to them about members cars. Whether intentionally deceptive or due to ignorance, it is a fact.

Only the "build sheets" from the RREC in England are to be trusted. The build sheets from the RROC are microfiche copies of the sheets in England. Hence their poor quality to begin with. Some quite illegible.

The car Mr. Shostrom mentions in the upcoming sale, was listed by it's previous owner, and in two different respected books on the cars, by one number. Now, suddenly, it's chassis (VIN) number has changed. It's not only miraculous, it's a felony!
Webhost
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16 Jul 2015 04:01 PM  
Craig - thanks for your input.

I am not qualified to verify the authenticity of build sheets, nor have I seen/inspected the car to see the stampings on the chassis rail near the starter solenoid. So I'm only responding in general terms.

I'm just trying to wrap my head around how this would have transpired back then: So RR gets an order from Mme Colombo for a car destined for the Swiss market. They ship the chassis in Fall 1960 to the coachbuilder, James Young.

My gut reaction is, if someone is having the means to have a coach builder build you car to your exact specifications, would you pay them to build you a car with the wrong-side configuration?

Or are you surmising the factory repurposed a chassis that orginally was intended (and possibly stamped) for RHD, but by the time it was shipped to the customer in Spring 1961, it had been configured for LHD? So although it had always been a LHD car, it's just that the stampings (at least at some point) didn't reflect that?

Naturally, at the time, no one would have thought much about that little detail, as they couldn't predict the eventual classic-car craze that we have today.
N Craig Bryant
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16 Jul 2015 07:38 PM  
It is a very confusing issue which requires the skills of an FBI agent many times to suss out! Your points are well taken.

Yes, Rolls-Royce did re-direct chassis from one purpose to another, sometimes at the last moment, but these issues were usually clearly addressed in the build sheets. And certainly I take no issue with what happened to a car before it left Rolls-Royce hands. As to the idea of a Swiss buyer having purchased a right hand drive version, that is entirely possible. Many Englishmen have left hand drive cars because of having homes on the Riviera or elsewhere in Europe. And I offer as an example of this, a 1963 Silver Cloud III standard saloon, chassis #SDW 439.

SDW 439 was ordered new in 1963 by the famous Hollywood movie director William Wyler. The car was delivered by Rolls-Royce of Beverly Hills. Mr. Wyler was deaf in his right ear. So when driving a left hand drive car, his deaf ear was towards his companions in his car. He specifically ordered a right hand drive car, so that his "good" ear was toward his companions while he was driving! I was so amused by this seemingly apocryphal story that I actually ordered the build sheets to prove it's validity. I'm happy to share those build sheets if anyone is interested.

After all of the exhaustive study of the car in the auction, I am perfectly prepared to believe that this is merely confusion caused by various faulty documents on the car. In researching it, as you can imagine, I found it hard to believe that not 1, not 2, but 3 definitive books, by respected authors on the cars, had all three listed the cars chassis number incorrectly! That seemed like more than mere accident.

And while less definitive, but perhaps even more realistic, that a previous owner of the car had listed it's chassis number in the Rolls-Royce Owners Club incorrectly. Especially when selling the car, he stood to loose money by inadvertently listing it as a right hand drive car! So, a great deal of misinformation about this car. It begins to look suspicious when so much can have been listed wrong with regard to a single car.


terry sullivan
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17 Jul 2015 08:49 AM  

I visited the Auctions America Preview event this evening and saw the James Young S2 Continental being discussed here. Very nice looking car but I did not have sufficient access to have a look at the chassis number or underhood area. According to my copies of the RROC Directory & Registers which go back a long time, the first appearance of this car was in the 1973 D&R where it was listed as BC41LBY. In subsequent years through the 1987 RROC Directory & Register it was listed as BC41BY. Same owner's last name for the duration. The gentleman was a collector having significant other cars such as SSG, 3L, SW, etc. The car did not appear in the 1989 Directory & Register and has not appeared in the RROC D&R since then to the present time.

It should be noted that the RROC D&R is largely based on the honor system. Every year you get an invoice from the Club for your dues and owners are encouraged to note any new information. It is entirely possible that a wrong number (one way or the other) could get enshrined due to the inattention of the member. Write a wrong number somewhere on the form and put your car away due to advancing years, travel, relocation, too many cars or whatever, and voila!...mystery created. On each year's form it says if you have no changes just send in your payment. An owner not paying attention could allow a bad number to run for years. There is no RROC police.

I know a little bit about Bentley Continentals and will attempt to get a closer look sometime before it goes up on the auction block. A professionally done conversion would be difficult to detect. Personally I do not have enough information to render an opinion and I state none here. Just adding my 2 cents to the discussion.



Morgan Wong
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03 Nov 2015 12:47 AM  
hi John,

Sorry that I am not exactly replying to this post, and I couldn't find a way to PM you.
but I am looking for a car enthusiast named as John Shostrom which I hope is happened to be you.

The John Shostrom I am looking for have posted in other forum regarding Rolls-Royce Phantom V with landaulette coachwork by Park Ward, chassis number 5BV7, which is the last RR ride on by the last governor of Hong Kong.

Since I am currently working on a research on that Rolls Royce (and I had worked on a project officially for Rolls Royce already), I would love to get in touch if it happen to be you and hope to have more info on that.

Sorry again for an irrelevant but desperate reply.

all the best,

Moran Wong
ps. please contact me by morgan.wwf@gmail.com if you would like to
iso pro
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20 Feb 2020 12:21 PM  
good post
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