I posted this long ago on another site.
I titled it "THE PERPETUIAL REBODY DEBATE."
FOR THE PEOPLE THAT BELIEVE REBODYING IS WRONG
Many people in the hobby feel that there is a big difference in the way people "restore" a car, ESPECIALLY a unibody.
They believe that the unibody is the core or soul of the car.
They believe that when the car was created by the manufacturer, that the numbers that were assigned to that particular unibody, and the assortment of parts that were assigned to and installed on it to create the model they were disignating are sacred. That no one else outside of the manufacturer has the right to do a V.I.N. switch (which did happen when these cars were new before they ever left the final assembly line) on any of these cars for any reason.
They believe that IF the car is what they consider to be salvagable by repairing existing body parts or installing new, reproduction, or good used parts, that is the only legal/ethical way to restore the car and maintain the heritage/originality of the car that the original manufacturer built.
They feel that when a car is rusted/damaged to the point that there is little left of the original unibody that the car should be scrapped and taken out of existence.
They believe this is not just a matter of legalities but also a matter of ethics.
They believe that even if it IS legal on a Federal level and in many States, that it is still unethical and morally wrong.
They feel that restoration by rebody is NOT a restoration at all but rather a fraud created on the hobby and any line of ownership after the rebody takes place.
They feel that even when disclosure is made by the party that did the rebody, to the next person that purchases the car, that it is still unacceptable. They feel that it is all to likely that somewhere down the line in years to come with the ownership changes of the car that this will NOT be disclosed to future buyers.
Many are adamant about their belief that switching V.I.N. tags to another similar car/unibody and associated hidden I.D. numbers is just plain wrong, legal or not. Regardless of how CORRECT the car may appear, with all of the correct componants that the factory would have installed on a like unibody, it is not the same as when the factory did it, and that THEY (the original manufacturer) are the only ones that had the right to do so.
They consider all rebodies to be nothing more than a clone with the identity numbers from another car.
They believe that a registry of any KNOWN rebodies and any SUSPECTED rebodied should be kept for any future buyers to be aware of to aid in their buying decision.
Before we go to the other side of the arguement, the below information needs to be considered.
THE CATCH 22
Most feel the real problem is that there is no definition of where the line is with regards to the restoration of a unibody car.
At what point does the car cross the line from what has been described above as a restoration rather than a rebody?
How much of the original unibody has to be left for new, reproduction, or good used parts to be attached to?
How big of a CHUNK of a donor car can you use in this restoration before it is considered a rebody?
Does the simple act of removing the V.I.N. plate from one car or part of the car constitute a rebody?
What about removing the V.I.N. plate because the part of the car that it is attached to is damaged? Does this constitute a rebody?
Does a car that was front or rear "clipped" by a bodyshop 30+ years ago constitute a partial rebody?
If a car was first FRONT clipped and a year later REAR clipped, does this constitute a complete rebody?
All good questions with no answers that probably any two people will agree on.
This is why so many people have mixed feeling about the restoration/rebody arguement.
FOR THE PEOPLE THAT BELIEVE THAT A REBODY IS AN ACCEPTABLE FORM OF RESTORATION
These people do not believe the car or unibody has a soul, or that the car is sacred. They do not hold the manufacturer in a Godly manner and assume that none of the factory line workers were any kind of Saints.
They believe that the base unibody is the same for a given car line (e.g. "A", "B", "C", or "E" body) and it is just an assembly of parts added to this base unibody that creates the particular price class. These are terms that Chrysler created for their cars.
These people believe that IF the manufacturer had the right to switch V.I.N.s of a car that they built, that an individual has the same right, provided that they legally own both cars involved in the rebody.
The manufacturer did this in the interest of "saving" a car, rather than scrapping it, for purely financial reasons. If they mistakenly built a car that somehow did not meet the criteria of what the V.I.N. model designation indicated, they took the path of least cost to convert it to a different model and made a V.I.N. plate switch that reflected that. Did you ever wonder why the HIDDEN V.I.N. numbers don't have the FULL V.I.N. stamped in them? It left flexability for the manufacturer to make V.I.N./model changes when the car was near completion.
The people that believe in rebodying, do so for the same reason, because it is financially less costly.
These people also sometimes do so in the interest of safety when they have a car that they want to save that may have serious body deformation or serious rust problems in the unibody.
These people believe that they are also saving the heritage of the car by doing so.
These people feel that it is better to have a donor car that is as the factory built, and without damage, to transplant the parts that were factory installed specific parts that made up the identity of the car they want to save.
They believe that it is legal on a Federal level and cite the Federal Law from the Cornell University Law Library in the link below as their proof.
There are some states that have their own laws regarding if and how moving V.I.N.s can be done and if you read the Federal law you will see that they call this out in the law.