[VIDEO] Lawyer Weighs In on State Wanting to Destroy an Innocent Man’s 1959 Corvette


[VIDEO] Lawyer Weighs In on State Wanting to Destroy an Innocent Man's 1959 Corvette

Earlier this week we brought you the story of a Kansas man whose newly purchased 1959 Corvette was seized five years ago by the Kansas State Police as he tried to register it with the state. The authorities found a discrepancy with the “secret VIN” stamped on the frame, and under state law, they are required to destroy the car which they call “contraband.”

Steve Lehto is a Michigan lawyer who specializes in Lemon Law and Consumer Protection and he offers his take on current stories in the news, particularly when it comes to automobiles. In a youtube video released on Wednesday, Steve sets up the case details and then offers his opinion on it.

Steve says it’s a form of civil forfeiture but not in the traditional sense as the state of Kansas has filed legal action against a thing, in this case, it’s a classic Corvette. Although the owner was deemed innocent by state officials, the Kansas Highway Patrol says state law requires the destruction of the car. The Kansas Justice Institute offered an Amicus brief arguing that the man shouldn’t be held at fault when he has been proclaimed innocent and the government shouldn’t use its power and resources to take away his property.

Steve Lehto says they are both wrong.

Lehto says he’s had a case like this where the client bought a classic car, goes to have it registered, and the State says it is stolen. Steve talks about the stamping of VINs in various places on the car and how stolen cars will often only have a fake VIN on the windshield or under the dash, while the hidden VIN on the frame or chassis is unchanged. He believes that’s the case with this 1959 and what prosecutors should be doing is trying to find out who had a stolen 1959 Corvette with the VIN in question.

He also suggests that the innocent owner should be looking at the Indiana dealer that sold him the car in the first place.

It’s a fascinating case for sure as he talks about VINs and how they could be potentially changed so that a stolen Corvette could be resold. He also offers up some great advice for buying a Corvette so that something like this doesn’t happen to you.

Steve Lehto / YouTube

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  1. Besides the probable reason that the car was stolen and re-VIN’d there is another plausible scenario. Years ago it was common to replace a rust damaged frame with a frame from a donor. New replacements weren’t available. Few if anyone gave a second thought readable VINs on the donor frame. There are cars out there that have Vin numbers on the frame that do not match the VIN plate or Title and the car has not been stolen at any point in it’s life. In this case the good lawyer has over looked this possibility. As he states we do not know the particulars of the mismatch in VINs with this particular 1959.

  2. If the owner has been deemed innocent of wrong doing, and the state has no intention to investigate the person/company who sold the car to the current owner for possible criminal charges, then what’s to gain by destroying the car? Doing so doesn’t punish a guilty party, but rather destroys the property of an innocent person who is left with no recourse to save his property in its present state or to be compensated for the value of said property. Is this an example of how the “deep state” operates?

  3. Wrong on every level! Destroying the car isn’t the proper course of action in this case. A more reasonable solution would be logical.

  4. What is wrong with people?? Gov overreach to the max. Why is the dealer that sold it not being held liable?? In my state the dealer would be in deep shit, of course this is Kansas so who knows. This whole thing stinks to hi heaven as we used to say. When the TV guys put a new frame under a car it will have a different number on it, so what the hell?? I hope he wins his case and sues the crap out of someone. If nothing else how about a “Reconditioned Title”?

  5. why not get in touch with someone at the corvette assembly plant in bowling green kentucky and have someone look over the 1959 corvette and see about correcting the mistake in question and straighten out the tittle problem

  6. Problem isn’t Vin #. It’s rivets used to put Vin tag back on after restoration. Should have used original rivets with dimples, not rounded solid. Original type rivets are available, but using rounded rivets were okay to use in state car was sold.

  7. Clearly, some of the commenters did NOT watch the video.

    And, David Hurry, this car was assembled in St. Louis. The National Corvette MUSEUM maintains specific info for 1981 and later Corvettes. And the VIN problem is obviously not just a “mistake.”

    It is cool that the lawyer has a model C8 on his bookshelf!

  8. A person looking for that number on the frame would have to cut a 3 inch hole in the floor above the number or lift the whole body about a foot to see it.

  9. @Bobcat “Problem isn’t Vin #. It’s rivets” This statement is misleading. Rivets were not used on Corvette VIN tags until the 1965 model year. In this case the 1959 model year the VIN tag was attached with two Philips heads screws to the drivers door forward door jam. In the fall of 1959 for the 1960 model year Chevrolet moved the VIN tag to the steering column where it was spot welded They continued to be spot welded through 1962 and 1963 and 1964. But for ’63-4 the location was moved to the bird cage crossbar under the glove box. The problem in this specific 1959 case isn’t rivets. The problem is the VIN. The specifics of which we do not know.

    @David Hurry “why not get in touch with someone at the corvette assembly plant in bowling green kentucky” 1. If you were to go down that road you would quickly find that General Motors legal departments want nothing to do with inserting/exposing themselves in the legal problems of others. 2. The Assembly plants expertise is just that current/future automotive manufacture not 1959 VIN’s.

    @Alan Graham “looking for that number on the frame would have to cut a 3 inch hole in the floor above the number or lift the whole body”. Respectfully I have to disagree. Particularly on restored and cars that have lead a less corrosive lives. Frame VIN stamps have been located by some using a small mirror from below the car. Consider cars that have been purchased from other states that require VIN inspection to be registered in the purchaser’s home state. How many times have you heard of authorities cutting a hole in the floor of the new owners purchase to determine the frames hidden VIN stamp?

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