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Old 02-27-2012, 01:55 PM   #1
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One Sportsmobile/Two VINs?

Hello Sportsmobilers,

I'm new here and am in the process of finding a camper van for some summer (and future) traveling. There's always room for evolution, but currently I think I'm looking for something 2wD, and my general idea is "away from RV parks and official campgrounds as much as possible," but not "total 4wD back country ."

Since I was a kid I've envisioned myself with a VW Westy, but now that it comes time to actually buy, I'm find myself moving toward something else for a couple of reasons (towing capacity with a bit of safety/reliability tossed in). So of course the Sportsmobile looks pretty nifty! Used/2wd fits the budget. (I would also consider B+ type vans.)

My specific question today is about VIN numbers. I corresponded with someone who had a Sportsmobile for sale, and I asked him for a photograph of the door-edge data sticker, because I was trying to figure out GCWR (figured that out another way, as it turns out). Well, that sticker had a Ford VIN on it. Okay, so far so good.

But then the title had a different Ford VIN on it. Hmmm?

Well I looked up both VINs on Ford's website, and the one on the title (which may be on the dash?) came back as "incomplete strip chassis." The one on the door sticker came back as "cargo van."

So my question is, is it appropriate to have the "incomplete strip chassis" VIN on the title? In some ways the "cargo van" seems like it would be the "later" one and thus be more logical. Also, it has a regular van body, and not a body made by anyone else (i.e. not fiberglass or etc.).

My main concern is having some hassle down the line if the "wrong" VIN was chosen to use on the title. I have no concerns about the vehicle itself, ownership-wise.

I did do a search here on the term "VIN," which turned up two threads that allude to how this happens. But I still wanted to double-check since it wasn't completely tailored to my question, and I know there are innumerable ways for bureaucracy to cause later angst. (I have links to those threads below, for future reference.)



PS: Still open to other Sportsmobile(s) as I have not made a final decision. Looking for clean, 2wd, probably Ford, would like driver's side airbag, and would prefer EB. Budget probably dictates late 90's/early 00's era.



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Old 02-27-2012, 03:04 PM   #2
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Re: One Sportsmobile/Two VINs/"stripped chassis" VIN on titl

I would have to say those two VINs are incompatible. Ford only issues 1 VIN/vehicle. It is possible that someone pulled the original cab/body off the incomplete chassis and added a body in better condition to the frame.

Certainly it is something to ask the seller and your local DMV about.


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Old 02-27-2012, 03:09 PM   #3
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Re: One Sportsmobile/Two VINs/"stripped chassis" VIN on titl

Sounds to me like something one would want to stay about a million miles away from....
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Old 02-27-2012, 03:30 PM   #4
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Re: One Sportsmobile/Two VINs/"stripped chassis" VIN on titl

My VIN is the same on both. It was an incomplete chassis that was shipped to Sportsmobile West and they built it out. Same VIN on title and door....

I would be very cautious about 2 VIN's. Personally I would not even consider it. Something more going on there.
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Old 02-27-2012, 05:10 PM   #5
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Re: One Sportsmobile/Two VINs/"stripped chassis" VIN on titl

Hi folks,

I agree, it seems weird. On the other hand, I've bought a fair number of things used from people I don't know, so I have a reasonably developed sense of "something's not right here." In this case the sellers are the original owners, and they have a log of *every trip* they've taken in the van since it was new. Every gas fill, every stop for a meal, every service, etc. Like a ship's log.

The way this came up was that I asked if they knew the GCWR and they didn't. So I asked them to look at the door sticker to see if it was there (side note: the GCWR wasn't there, but we found it later from the owner's manual). Well about an hour after that the owner called me to say there was a problem (I was on my way there to look/buy) and so if I had not left the house I should hold off, which I did.

He then explained that when he got the title out and looked at, he noticed that the two VINs were different. The VIN on the title matched the VIN on the dash but not the VIN on the door sticker. So he knew that might be a problem and didn't want me to come because obviously I would not be too keen on that either.

So today he went to the DMV, and the people there decided that since the title VIN was on the dash, and since it had been that way for all these years (they have always had it titled in the same state), that it would be fine. (Not that I trust them to be all-knowing sages.)

Now even though I had looked up both VINs on Ford's fleet site, and they both came up (as I outlined in my first post), when I was reading here today I came across the thread on the Cruise Control recall/fires. There was a link where you could go put your VIN in at Ford. So I did that and the "incomplete chassis" VIN came up as "no such VIN" (that's the one that is on the door); whereas the "cargo van" VIN (which is on the title, and, I think, the dash) came up as "Yes, this exists, and there are no recalls."

I pretty much believe the sellers are who they say they are, and that they bought it new. It hasn't been in any accidents.

So I wonder if Ford made a mistake? Say it was planned to be a chassis, then ended up a full van? I don't want to buy trouble, but this van really fits my purposes, and I love one-owner tidy vehicles. I wonder what happens if the door sticker is removed? (Which, if the seller were trying to pull something, he could easily have done.) Because the "right" VIN is on the title and on the dash (I believe).

Bit of a puzzle!

Thanks for your input.

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Old 02-27-2012, 05:18 PM   #6
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Re: One Sportsmobile/Two VINs/"stripped chassis" VIN on titl

Doors off a donor van... wreck?
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Old 02-27-2012, 05:22 PM   #7
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Re: One Sportsmobile/Two VINs/"stripped chassis" VIN on titl

I'm not sure what order these replies will show up in, because when I post it says they have to be approved before they will show up (I guess because I am new).

But, in one of the threads I tried to link to in my first post (which didn't seem to work properly), there was this, which might explain the situation, posted by "carringb," on January 13, 2011:

Cargo vans with the RV-prep package are considered "incomplete" because they are missing some key features.... like seats. The final stage upfitter must then apply their own VIN, adjacent to the body Ford body sticker with the original VIN. The VIN from the final stage upfitter should register as a complete vehicle.

This seems to be a logical explanation for what occurred? I have not seen the title/VIN sticker on the van, but I will ask to see it.

What do you folks have as a door sticker VIN? And where is the other one (if you have another one) -- on the dash? Or?

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Old 02-27-2012, 05:38 PM   #8
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Re: One Sportsmobile/Two VINs/"stripped chassis" VIN on titl

I'm probably stacking up the replies here - sorry but they are going to an approval queue, so I can't just add to the one.

But, I just want to clarify that the "title VIN" is on the van. It's on the dash. So maybe the door VIN that comes up "incomplete chassis" is the "first VIN" that is mentioned in the italicized quote I put in my previous reply (?)

I don't want to get into a mess, but on the other hand, I have a reasonably good nose for spotting "off" situations, and I just don't get that vibe from this one. So it seems worth doing some research on. Still, I'm not going to proceed until I feel more clear on the issue.

Would any of you mind looking on your driver's door frame and seeing if the VIN there matches the VIN on the dash? (And in case it has changed, this is a 1990's Ford we are talking about.) It's on a white sticker with black lettering, about 2" x 4", and also has the GVWR and the axle weight ratings.

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Old 02-27-2012, 09:42 PM   #9
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One Sportsmobile/Two VINs/"stripped chassis" VIN on title

Kind of weird but maybe relevant. My dad once got a brand new suburban that had a strange mismatch in the paint. The doors and fenders on one side looked oddly out of color with the rest of the rig. As it turns out the rig apparently had some strange mishap on the assembly line and ended up on its side. GM repainted and fixed it and sold as new. He had to dig hard and pull favors to get to the bottom of it to find out what really happened. Soooo stranger things sure have happened.

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Old 02-27-2012, 09:44 PM   #10
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Re: One Sportsmobile/Two VINs/"stripped chassis" VIN on titl

My 95 has a handwritten door sticker (on body) on top of an original sticker that says manufacturer: Sportsmobile Texas above Ford Motor company and F/R GAWR, tire size/pressures, rim size, & GVWR and VIN, all handwritten, that matches dash VIN. It does not have GCWR. I bought from a dealer but had to go talk to original owner because they spelled her first name wrong on the original title and DMV wouldn't change to me with incorrect spelling, it was wrong for 13 years. The lady bought the van from local Colorado Ford dealer & supplied to Sportsmobile Texas to convert.


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