Serial Number Forensics

I often find myself doing some pretty crazy things working in the Ferrari world, and this week that included meeting someone in a hotel room to inspect a Ferrari engine!

As nefarious it may sound, it was all legitimate! Mark Waring came to the US from the UK with some very specialized gear used to scan VIN numbers on engine parts.

He has a set of tools that can read minute impressions made on magnetic tape from engine stampings. When an VIN is stamped in metal, it deforms the surrounding material, and even if the number is removed, it can sometimes be seen with certain techiques. Mark brought a sample to demonstrate what his particular machine can see. The plate in this picture shows a stamped number like we would see on a car, covered in paint.

With Mark’s magnetic imaging, we can see a disc of steel cut perfectly to replace a previous number. Thieves use this and other techniques to forge VINs, and Mark’s machine can identify these tricks without removing the paint!

I have a client with a 250GTE engine that has a problem with the serial number. A previous shop, for some reason, filed off the VIN numbers on this block, but we strongly believe the engine belongs to the car it came with, but how to prove it? There are several techniques people have used to try and extract the old numbers like x-ray, and acid etching, but we wanted Mark to take a look at this engine with his new technique. We heard he was on the East Coast of the US inspecting another car, so I jumped at the chance to bring the engine to him to scan. It was a lot less risky driving this engine block to him, than crating it up and shipping it to the UK!

Now with his scans done, Mark will go back home and analyze the scans and see what he can find. Fingers crossed!



Don’t forget to reserve your space for the Motorcar Spring Car Show!

May 5, 2018

Radcliffe Motorcars

12340 Owings Mills Blvd.
Reisterstown MD 21136

Call to register (410) 517-1681