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Did I buy a 'Gray Market' 328?

Discussion in '308/328' started by Battman2, Jan 15, 2004.

  1. Battman2

    Battman2 Rookie

    Dec 23, 2003
    19
    Milwaukee, WI, USA
    Full Name:
    Jeff Batt
    Hello all,

    A few days ago I went to title my new (to me) 1986 328 in Milwaukee, WI. After the lady behind the desk stared at her computer for 10 min, she told me that my VIN no was incorrect and that I had bought a 'gray market' car.

    I had actually asked members of this forum about cars from Europe earlier, so I knew what she meant, but I played dumb and asked what she was talking about. She told me that it's not uncommon for cars to be illegally brought into the USA (because they don't meet federal standards) and many states don't care...but WI does and I might be SOL because WI will not title my car (that's a quote). The proceedure is that they send my info to Madison, WI (the state capital) for an 'investigation'. If I pass, I get a title, if I don't...life will suck.

    Naturally, I was pretty freaked. I immediately called the guy I bought the car from and he was very supportive. He tracked down the owner before him, the code key to explain F-car VIN numbers and called a Ferrari dealer to verify they VIN.

    So now I have the previous owners telling me that the car is not a gray market car, and that it was titled several times in the USA; the VIN no deciphered to show that the 4th and 8th characters both designate it a USA car; additionally I have signed letter from the General Mgr of Steve Harris Imports (authorized Ferrari Dealer) stating that it is USA Spec vehicle.

    I called the 'Investigation' division in Madison with all of my 'evidence'. They were polite, but said they never heard of me. And I should expect my paperwork from Milwaukee to show up in the next few days and then the investigation to start in a week or two (you have to love the gov!). So the 'investigation' lady told me that if they have any issues, they would call me, otherwise, I wouldn't hear from them, ever. But meanwhile, I don't have a title.

    So a few questions: Has anyone else had a similar issue? Does anyone have any suggestions of additional 'evidence' I can prepare just in case? Can a few people reply with the 9th character of their f-car VIN?

    With all the research/evidence, I'm pretty confident that I have a US Spec car (hell, it even says it on the owner's manual and on the VIN no plaque!)...but I just want to cover all the bases.

    I'm partially thinking that the 9th VIN charachter is causing the issue. Supposedly it's a check digit used by law enforcement to assure the VIN is valid and is typically a number between 1 & 9. Mine is an "X".

    Or more likely, they don't title many F-cars in WI, and the system just can't handle it! Thanks! Battman
     
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  3. Ferrari 1

    Ferrari 1 Karting

    Nov 3, 2003
    175
    Fort Lauderdale
    Full Name:
    Benn Correale
    In the VIN #, the 8th digit from the left should be the letter "A" for a US car. If the 8th digit from the left is the letter "B", then it is something other than a US spec. car.

    Also, did you get the service and owners warrantly booklet with the car? Inside on the first page is the original delivering dealers stamp.
     
  4. GrigioGuy

    GrigioGuy Splenda Daddy
    Global Moderator Owner

    Nov 26, 2001
    25,494
    E ' ' '/ F
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    Chris P. Bakon
    My 87 328 has a "9" in the 9th place in the VIN.

    This site may help http://www.ferrariclub.com/faq/vin.html. From that site:

    So an X is not neccessarily incorrect.

    The code you're looking for is in the 8th space, where you need to see an A for US market.
     
  5. BigTex

    BigTex Seven Time F1 World Champ
    Rossa Subscribed Owner

    Dec 6, 2002
    74,351
    Houston, Texas
    Full Name:
    Bubba
    I know my 5 digit VIN confused 'em here in Texas, for three days.

    Finally, a supervisor in the title office got tired of looking at me, hit "override" on the computer, and sold me my tags!

    Hang in there, welcome to Fcar ownership!
     
  6. sparta49

    sparta49 F1 Veteran
    Owner

    Mar 3, 2001
    7,794
    LA
    Full Name:
    Frank
    The 9th digit is a check digit that is derived from a mathemtical formula for the vin. the x or 10 digit designates the model year a x would be a 99. A one in the first position designates a vehicle bound for the US market
     
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  8. Battman2

    Battman2 Rookie

    Dec 23, 2003
    19
    Milwaukee, WI, USA
    Full Name:
    Jeff Batt
    Thanks for the reponses.

    Both my 4th digit 'X' and my 8th digit 'A' seem to mean that it's a USA car. (4th digit = X = 328 USA/Japan engine; 8th digit = A = LHD for USA market)...so I'm thinking I'm okay. Don't try to tell that to my DMV though!

    And thanks for the thought on the Warranty Book...I'll check that.

    Thanks, Battman
     
  9. kiesan

    kiesan Formula 3
    Silver Subscribed

    Nov 21, 2003
    1,171
    Seattle
    Full Name:
    Kie Robertson
    On my '86 the 8th digit from the left is "A" and the 9th is "8".

    A euro car would not have side marker slights, either. When I was looking for my GTB I actually wanted a euro model for the higher compression motor but I couldn't find one.

    Worse come to worse just tear down the motor and show the friendly DMV clerk your meager North American spec pistons and I'm sure they will cut you a title.
     
  10. BigTex

    BigTex Seven Time F1 World Champ
    Rossa Subscribed Owner

    Dec 6, 2002
    74,351
    Houston, Texas
    Full Name:
    Bubba
    FWIW, that's what Fed DOT told me, as well.

    If you have rectangular side markers, front/rear, it's a US car.

    Mine was actually sold new in Canada. Same spec.
     
  11. F328 BobD

    F328 BobD Formula 3

    Mar 17, 2001
    2,327
    Southlake, TX
    Full Name:
    BobD
    US cars have a plate inside the driver's doorjam. The plate states the car complies with all Federal laws (safety, bumper,theft protection) as of the date of manufacture. The plate also provides the month and year of manufacture (non-US cars do not have this plate). Is it there?
     
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  13. Battman2

    Battman2 Rookie

    Dec 23, 2003
    19
    Milwaukee, WI, USA
    Full Name:
    Jeff Batt
    Yup...I have both the side markers and the plate inside the door. In fact, I took a pic of the door plate for my 'evidence' file. Of course the DOT isn't interested...but I'll keep hounding them.

    Thanks again!
     
  14. GrigioGuy

    GrigioGuy Splenda Daddy
    Global Moderator Owner

    Nov 26, 2001
    25,494
    E ' ' '/ F
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    Chris P. Bakon
    Just a thought....

    Is there another tax/dmv/whatever office nearby that you can register it at? I've had problems before with titles and such with my local one, but another county branch sailed them right through.
     
  15. f355spider

    f355spider F1 World Champ
    Rossa Subscribed Owner

    May 29, 2001
    17,316
    USA
    Good idea Tillman, but if he's already "flagged", it's too late...
     
  16. BigTex

    BigTex Seven Time F1 World Champ
    Rossa Subscribed Owner

    Dec 6, 2002
    74,351
    Houston, Texas
    Full Name:
    Bubba
    It took a conference call between HPD Auto theft, who inspected my car, Tx DOT, who issued a title on a 5 digit VIN, and the county Tax Office, to work mine out.

    Of course, now I'm familiar with ALL those guys.

    I leave the keys in it, with the windows down, no worries.
     
  17. vref

    vref Karting

    Dec 18, 2003
    214
    1 Hr North of Housto
    Full Name:
    Jim
    A lot of DMV computers do not have proper information concerning Ferrari Vin numbers, lets face it we are only talking about 1000 cars a year Ferrari produced. You will have to take documentation into the DMV proving its a US spec car. You might even call some importers to help provide documentation. Here is a link.

    http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/cars/rules/import/
     
  18. whart

    whart F1 Veteran
    Honorary

    Dec 5, 2001
    6,485
    Grandview NY
    Full Name:
    Herr Prof.
    Could Dick Merritt at DOT (fed) help you out? He is known for his expertise with Ferraris, and if you have a US car, maybe he could help you figure out how to substantiate that.
     
  19. 62 250 GTO

    62 250 GTO F1 Veteran

    Jan 9, 2004
    7,732
    Nova Scotia Canada
    Full Name:
    Neil
    I had a "friend" who may or may not have lost his license. He racked up a huge pile of fines and again his license may or may not have been revoked. He drove 30 mins north to a DMV branch, swaped his first and second names, stating that his father and grandfather have the same first name as a family tradition and hid grandfather is called by his second name his father by his first hand him by his second name. And he wants his "important" info to state the name he is called by just so there is no confusion down the road. You could give that a try, it worked for him and he's a dumbass.
     
  20. 62 250 GTO

    62 250 GTO F1 Veteran

    Jan 9, 2004
    7,732
    Nova Scotia Canada
    Full Name:
    Neil
    I couldn't get insurance for my 924 the first day because it "wasn't a real car". {Jokes aside} I told him to "check his newspaper". He didn't find that funny so the next day he calls and says he found my car listed afterall. I told him to go back to reading the paper.
     
  21. CraigFL

    CraigFL Formula Junior

    Jan 17, 2001
    954
    Panama City, FL
    Full Name:
    Craig

    I have all the above stuff on my euro 328 but also have:

    1. side marker turn signal lites(in front of the doors)
    2. "B" in my VIN
    3. Red parking lites in the rear exhaust/valence
     
  22. BigAl

    BigAl F1 Veteran

    Mar 17, 2002
    6,146
    TX
    Full Name:
    GSgt Hartman
    My Euro 308 also has side marker lights. So, were they added in the federalization process or did some euros have them and others not?
     
  23. BigTex

    BigTex Seven Time F1 World Champ
    Rossa Subscribed Owner

    Dec 6, 2002
    74,351
    Houston, Texas
    Full Name:
    Bubba
    The 308GTB euro at Gstaad did have yellow ROUND front side markers, but none at rear. I think the BIG Square ones front/rear are US requirement.

    I did notice the Gstaad car didn't have the famed Euro front spoiler, so there appears to be lots of variants
     
  24. BigTex

    BigTex Seven Time F1 World Champ
    Rossa Subscribed Owner

    Dec 6, 2002
    74,351
    Houston, Texas
    Full Name:
    Bubba
    #21 BigTex, Jan 15, 2004
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 7, 2017
  25. GrigioGuy

    GrigioGuy Splenda Daddy
    Global Moderator Owner

    Nov 26, 2001
    25,494
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    Chris P. Bakon
    Off the subject, but what is the color code on that 308? It would look kickin' on a GT4 with black Speedlines!
     
  26. BigTex

    BigTex Seven Time F1 World Champ
    Rossa Subscribed Owner

    Dec 6, 2002
    74,351
    Houston, Texas
    Full Name:
    Bubba
    It's code "Key Lime Green"! LOL

    I sent the articles to my uncle, that called back the day AFTER the event. I've got it somewhere. The auction description had it as VERY RARE, but my daughter liked it.

    I was going to try to get it, but could not mobilize in time. I read later the interior had mildewed from underground storage. I'll look to find it and PM.

    Now getting back to the "Government Knuckleheads" thread.....

    They would argue with me it was a "Farm Implement trailer" with the car outside at the curb!
     
  27. future328driver

    future328driver Formula 3

    Dec 10, 2001
    1,796
    Dallas, Texas
    Full Name:
    Ken Thomas
    Call Dick Merritt at the Department Of Transportation. He is widely known as the guru for grey market F-Cars. If you can proivide him with the evidence that you have a US car, maybe he can make a call to Wisconsin and get the problem sorted out. There was an article about Dick in Forza about a year ago and it lists his contact info. I am sure that somebody here must have it.
     
  28. miked

    miked Formula Junior

    Feb 7, 2001
    670
    Cincinnati, Ohio
    Full Name:
    Mike Dawson
    I had similar trouble with my 308 GT4. I had the "original owner" CA title which had the "GT4" and the serial # 13834 run together, apparently a mistake when the car was delivered new. I had the "bringing a car into the state" serial number verification done at an "authorized" dealer as required. They, knowing better, seperated the GT4 and the serial number. The lady at the DMV said that I obviously had a stolen car because my serial number didn't start with a 4. I returned the next day with "serial number verification #2" which clearly noted that GT4 was the model and the serial # was 13834. DMV lady says "no way", serial number starts with 4 or else it's stolen. I ask for her supervisor. The supervisor pulls out the "Master Serial # Book". She looks up Ferrari. Supervisor Mrs. Frank Parker says Ferrari didn't make a 308 GT4, only a GTB and GTS. I suggest that she try DINO. Sure enough Dino makes a GT4, but your obviously fraudulent title says Ferrari, not Dino.

    On the THIRD trip to the DMV, a different office, I am armed with service records showing the serial #, magazine articles explaining the badge change and my copy of "The Original 308". As soon as the clerk started to balk, I asked for the Office Manager. He looked it up in a different book and I was out of there in 5 minutes, title in hand (complete with correct model and serial #).
     

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