A Kansas man has won a legal battle that threatened to destroy his vintage Corvette after it was discovered that there was an issue with the car’s VIN.
Kansas resident Richard Martinez was awoken from his classic car dream before it began, when the 1959 Chevrolet Corvette he had purchased from an Indiana dealer was labeled “contraband” during the registration process.
According to KCTV5 News, Martinez bought the Corvette for $50,000 in 2016, but when he went to get the vehicle registered a Kansas state trooper noticed a problem with the VIN. Unbeknownst to Martinez, the vehicle’s VIN had been removed and then replaced during the restoration process and it had different rivets, which is illegal under Kansas law.
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Martinez was recognized as innocent by the government, having not known about the repairs, but his vehicle was still in danger of being destroyed.
It seemed hopeless, until in the summer of 2021 Kansas Justice Institute filed an amicus brief on Martinez’s behalf, urging the court to protect the property rights of a vehicle owner that KHP recognizes as innocent. The new bill will exempt certain modifications on antique vehicles from vehicle identification number offense seizures and dispositions.
Governor Laura Kelly signed House Bill 2594 into law on March 22, and now nothing stands in the way of Martinez and his much-deserved Corvette summer. “I’m throwing a party. I’m having a good time,” Martinez said. “I want to give free rides around the block.”
While he’s happy, neither Martinez nor his Corvette came out completely unscathed. The legal battle has cost him some-$30,000, and the vehicle received around $28,000 worth of damage from being in tow yards and a storage shed in Topeka.
The vehicle will likely need to be restored again, but hopefully this time the builder leaves the VIN alone.
Photos courtesy RM Sotheby’s