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If you’ve been following the fate of the restored 1959 Corvette that the state of Kansas wants to crush, you know about this. If not, then pay attention. But if you’re restoring a car, or purchased one, without a VIN tag, the state of Kansas considers it “contraband.” Contraband vehicles “shall be destroyed” according to the state vehicle code laws. 

We’ve all removed VIN tags during restoration

1967 Chevy Corvette
Restored 1967 Chevy Corvette | Getty

Those tags sometimes get lost or misplaced over time. They’re usually removed for that extra bit of detail. Then they are polished and riveted back at the end of the project. 

Lesser restorers or painters merely tape it off. But the good ones remove them. And sometimes, they don’t get replaced for various reasons. Buying from reputable owners or auction houses is usually not a problem for the buyer. Until, as in the case of the new 1959 Corvette owner, when he goes to his Department of Motor Vehicles.

Thieves pry off VIN tags too

VIN plate
Chevy VIN Plate | Facebook

Car Thieves do this too. The VIN gets pried off before the cars get chopped up. So that is what the law is protecting Kansans from. But the lineage of this dream Corvette is well known. Kansas officials don’t care.

It has been sitting in an open impound yard in Topeka for three years, as the owner fights the state to get his car back. Prosecutors admit there was no bad intent, and agree the missing VIN got lost during its restoration years ago. But the act of taking it off is considered a felony. 

Removing a VIN tag is a felony

1963 Porsche 356
1963 Porsche 356 cabriolet | Getty

Federal law defines this as a felony offense. As such, it can carry up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. And other states have similar laws. In California, it is a 16 month to a three-year prison term, and a $25,000 fine. 

Arizona is one state reviewing its VIN plate removal laws. So is Kansas. In fact, the Arizona law passed the House and is being reviewed by the Senate now. 

As for Kansas, the Specialty Equipment Marketing Association has stepped in. Representatives have had ongoing meetings with state representatives to look at making changes to the existing laws. Everyone agrees this shouldn’t happen again. 

What is Kansas doing to fix this?

Hot rods
Hot rods in a row | Getty

The legislature wants to allow VIN plate removal under certain circumstances. Removing a VIN plate from an antique vehicle would be allowed “if the removal and reinstallation are reasonably necessary for repair or restoration unless the person knows or has reason to know that the vehicle is stolen.” That wording is currently in front of the State Senate. te. 

Now SEMA is expanding its scope to review all states’ laws regarding VIN plate removal in connection with vehicle restoration. Many of us have done this without knowing it was considered a felony. Now, you need to make sure you replace it before driving or selling your classic cars.


Kansas Has Spent 5 Years Trying to Destroy a 1959 Corvette