After problems a customer was having convincing his government that the chassis number of the used “Corvette” 1991 era from Japan was genuine, we had to dive into Japanese officialdom, now that was a long rabbit hole!
The subject car: Chevrolet, Corvette 1991 era
Now that is a classic car worth getting and saving. The problem arises with a decision by Chevrolet not to stamp the USA 17 digit number onto the chassis but to affix a plate (removable) with the 17 digit number on it. They continued this habit right up until 2005.
Now if you privately import your own car into Japan and the chassis number has a similar problem above (not stamped into the chassis) then the government will give you a number to be stamped onto the chassis with 2 Kanji on either side, something like this:
The above literally says “country 12345 country”. Later, local governments added their twist by putting their taste on the number, for example
札幌→札 Sapporo used the first kanji “Sapp”
秋田→秋 Akita used the first kanji “Aki”
岩手→手 Iwate used the SECOND kanji “Te”
東京→東 Tokyo used the first kanji “Higashi”
大阪→大 Osaka used the first kanji “big”
熊本→本 Kumamoto used the SECOND kanji “moto”
愛知→愛 Aichi used the first kanji “Love” .. wow.
神奈川→神 And Kamizawa used the first kanji “God”
But the chassis number we were dealing with did not proceed and end with a kanji, rather it was CY1-xxxx-Y
After long conversations with the registration office, we learned that these vehicles were NOT privately imported but were imported in low volume by the largest of the foreign car importers in Japan, Yanase.
Well Yanase usually sticks with the 17 digit number of the original country of production, why was the chassis number changed?
This is where the Japanese laws come into play. As the number was not stamped onto chassis in the production phase, Yanase had to apply for a low volume stamp format to be stamped onto the chassis, the format being CY1-(a number)-1.
So now we can differentiate privately imported foreign vehicles that need a new chassis stamp (Kanji .. number .. Kanji) to low volume imports like the above.
Even after 25 years doing this business there is still so much to learn!