Why are there gaps in the chassis number range?
Ok – You really need to read this inconjunction with “What does the chassis number mean?” Every chassis (and i’m just talking here about a bare chassis) that was delivered from Arch Motors has it’s own unique sequential number on it in a hidden place and I’m not going to say where it is as it’s not really that important unless you are trying to change history ! It would be easy to call this number the cars “Chassis Number” and perhaps in a purist view it is but “Chassis Number” has a very different meaning for most people ! – So, let’s call it here the “BASE NUMBER”. So, at the end of the assembly period carried out in Shenstone by the Reliant team you had a large collection of cars built to different specifications LHD/RHD or ROAD/RALLY and at this point the car is only identifiable by what BASE NUMBER was turned into what car which nobody really cares about – All we care about is that there were 200 cars ready for inspection to allow the car to be homologated into Group B – We know that in fact most cars counted were not finished cars ready to run but had been thrown together to get the homologation done – There is a lot more to the story at this point but for now let’s leave it at that ! FORD then gave the instruction to break apart 48 cars back into parts and to stack those parts on a shelf. – Some of the parts, like the diffs (front and rear) and gearbox all also carry their own unique number on a tag attached to them but again, they were not fitted in line with the BASE NUMBER, for instance BASE NUMBER 50 did not necessarily have front and rear diff number 50 in it and gearbox number 50 ! What you end up with is a shelf full of enough parts to build at least 48 cars (plus the extra parts and bare chassis FORD ordered for the program) – All these parts have different numbers. What you have left in the garage is a load of cars ready for sale built onto various different BASE NUMBERS. A customer then comes in and says, “I want a RHD car, 250 BHP in ROAD trim with black seats and a red steering wheel” – FORD would then go and wheel out the nearest car to meet that specification and then give it the chassis number (The 17 digit number you can read about in the other FAQ). Bob Howe says, “To be honest, if it was going to help sell the car, a customer could have pretty much asked for what ever chassis number they wanted providing it had not been issued already. The only number we were never going to sell was 200 and 13 but other than that you could have what you wanted and some owners did in fact pick the number they wanted” What then happened was a VIN plate would be ordered up and would arrive to be fixed to the car and the car would be physically stamped with that number. If the owner wanted it registered, the papers would be sent off with that new number ready for a V5 (log book) to be issued. So, as you can see, most often a car has a BASE NUMBER that bears no relation to the formal CHASSIS NUMBER and neither to the Engine, Diffs or Gearbox ! In fact, during the preparation stage ready for delivery to the customer, if the car had a noisy diff it would simply be removed and another one fitted off the shelf so some cars had whatever they were built with changed again before delivery. I’ll give you an example, one of the cars that was sold was registered with a very memorable chassis number but it was built on BASE NUMBER 092, used engine number 153, rear axel number 086 and transaxel number 148. The important point here to remember is that the BASE chassis sitting on the shelf have no stamped number nor a VIN tag associated with them as they never got to that stage – Of the bare chassis I have seen in the flesh, they do not even have holes drilled to fix the VIN plate onto. Here is a service chassis sat on a trailer – You can see this is a LHD version that had been stripped back down for spares. (Not all service chassis have evidence they have ever been assembled, some I have seen still have paint in the bolt holes unlike this one where you can see the bonding agent that was used to hold the tub on)
This is normal practice in motorsport as you can buy replacement shells for cars and quite rightly they do not have a chassis number, they are called service shells – The problem comes when you finish building your RS200+ from these spare parts and you come to register it – The car has no chassis number, just a BASE NUMBER (if you even knew that !) and DVLA will not allow you to put an official FORD 17 digit number on it so they issue you with their own 17 digit number which normally starts with SATVRO – C2 OOE is a very fast, very well built and very well respected owner who has done just this. However, there are also people who have managed to convince DVLA that their car is un-registered and one of the original FORD built cars and as a result they have had documents issued in that number – You can read about these in the chassis number database
– In all honesty, I am not sure that is actually against the law at this point (don’t quote me on that !) but what does break the law is if you sell the car on with the buyer under the incorrect assumption as to it’s origin – This, in the UK, would constitute fraud