California VIN numbers don't match

I bought a car in California and shipped it to Ohio, but the VIN numbers do not match the title.
Chassis number is 1Rxxxxx, which is correct for a 1969 LH Drive DHC. This number matches the original bill of sale from 1970.

However the most recent registration stub from 2012, and the title transferring to a trust, following the owner’s demise in 2023 have the VIN number as J691Rxxxxx. Presumably the additional leadin J69 stands for Jaguar 1969, but since the chassis number and VIN do not match exactly, I am having trouble getting an Ohio title.

Does anyone know why California added these three extra characters, sometime between 1970 and 2012?


I purchased my 1969 LHD E-Type FHC in 2002 when I lived in CA from the prior owner who also lived in CA. My CA title had the J691RXXXXX VIN number as well. We made our exodus from CA in 2021 and now live in South Carolina where the SC title has the same VIN J691RXXXXX. I didn’t have any problems getting it titled or registered in SC with that VIN. I have no idea if this is a CA problem, an OH problem, none, or both.
This has been discussed before on this list, perhaps the archives has information about this issue.


For out of state title transfer, Ohio requires I take the car to a dealer or BMV office to verify the VIN on the car. The problem is then that the inspection report does not match the title … I’ll dig more in the archives.

It looks like prior to 1983, California used a 10 digit VIN number, so to get this 7 digit VIN to comply, they added J69. Shame they didn’t add 000, I might have been able to talk my way out of that. They said I had to go to the Ohio Highway Patrol office for an inspection and they would tell me what to do, only OHP won’t let me make an appointment unless I have an Ohio title with my name on it, but I cannot get an Ohio title until they help fix the VIN issue. Bureaucrats!

State laws vary so much. And I’m sure we’ve all had a turn with DMV personnel who are obstinate seemingly just because they can be obstinate.

I just have to hope/think/presume that Ohio has some sort of referee/resolution process for such cases…although escalating to that level might be a task in itself.

One time here in Oregon I was about to have a problem transferring title on an out of state car. The gory details are not important but there was an oddity in the existing title that had the appearance of being a problem. The clerk was ready to wash her hands of the matter and send me off with a “There’s nothing we can do”.

A more experienced staffer apparently overheard the dilemma. She pulled out a huge book that covered all the laws and details of how cars are titled in all 50 states. Turns out that the suspicious oddity was completely customary and normal…for titles issued in that particular state.

These situations s frustrating but, OTOH, there’s a lot of “title washing” going on these days so, at the end of the day, maybe there’s some good to come from this sort of thing.




During this era California added a Jxx tag to the cars imported into the state, where xx reflected the model year of the vehicle. A metal tag stamped Jxx or J/xx was added at the port of entry - the supposed purpose was to prevent dealers from selling old stock as “this year’s model”. The tag was attached in the same area as the car’s data plate. Some, but not all California DMVs apparently added the “Jxx” as a prefix to the “Car Number” when the titled the car. As a result, many cars are titled as JxCCC…C where CCC…C is the Car Number stamped on the picture frame and Data Plate. I don’t believe that it was done to produce a 10-digit VIN, as I’ve seen it on 3.8L cars where the 6 digit Car Number was extended to 9, and on 4.2L 2+2s with automatic tramsmissions (with a BW suffix) where the resulting VIN was 12 digit long after adding the Jxx prefix. If your car still has the Jxx tag fitted, I hope you can just show this (as well as explaining the history) and all will be well. If the tag is now missing, hopefully the explanation will be enough. For reference, here is a car on BaT with the title with a J65 prefix and photos that include the J65 tag alongside the Data Plate:

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Its easy to file a form to report/ change errors on registration forms…may work?

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What I am reading are references to two different numbers as though they are one and the same, and they are not.

VIN number and chassis number.

They are two distinctly different numbers.

The VIN on my car is in at least two places I have seen: on the nameplate on the door frame and on a tag at the windshield.

The CHASSIS number is on the flange at the firewall/bulkhead. The chassis number is similar to an engine number, transmission number, etc. It is not a VIN number, it is a manufacturing tracking number.

It is possible that on later manufactured XJSs the the chassis number also became the same as the VIN, but on my 83, they are different.

Edit: spellin’

Not quite the same kettle of fish, Jerry.

On the older models the car# or chassis# was typically used for title purposes; back then there was no “VIN” as we know it today.

In this case the California paperwork shows J691Rxxxxx while the tag on the car (apparently) is just 1Rxxxxx. So, what California calls the VIN does not exactly match what is on the car.

So it isn’t a case of a VIN # and Chassis # actually being different on a car. It’s a case of the paperwork not matching what’s on the car.



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We’re talkin’ E-Types here… in Texas, and I suspect in many other states, the chassis number IS used as the VIN. They are one and the same.

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The VIN is the VIN.

What number is the “VIN” on the nameplate and the “VIN” number tag?

That is the number that should be shown as the “VIN” number on the title.

I am not grasping how any state can legally use a different number.

Are they calling the VIN number the “chassis” number? If they are, then their “chassis” number should be the same as the VIN number shown on you car’s nameplate and VIN number plate (mine is at the windshield).

It could be just their wording, using “chassis” number instead of stating “VIN” number?

If so, then your VIN number (on the nameplate) should match their “chassis” number.

In which case, ignore the actual chassis number on your chassis.

The first thing would be to clarify the number they are using as compared to your actual VIN number.

Then determine if they are just calling the number by a different name.

There is no VIN tag.

There is an ID plate with engine number, transmission number, body number, and car number.

The car number is used as the VIN.

The car number as shown on the ID plate does not match what is shown on the paperwork. The reason it doesn’t match is because of the added J69.

Grasping how one state did things 52 years ago isn’t gonna solve the problem ! That’s just what they did. The problem now is getting Ohio to understand ! :slight_smile:


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A quick glance at my heritage certificate shows the entry as VIN/Chassis Number. Not an official legal document, but it does show the intent of the manufacturer.

When I bought the 2+2 in 1996 it was previously titled in Louisiana. For some reason those folks recorded the engine number as the VIN. The insurance company didn’t care about the engine number, they wanted the VIN so my insurance certificate showed the VIN and the title, as transferred to Texas listed the engine number as the VIN. When you renewed your vehicle registration you needed the notice the state sent you which showed the engine number as the VIN and proof of insurance which showed the VIN. Usually, the person at the grocery store, where I picked up my license plate renewal sticker never noticed. Occasionally one did and i had to drag out the heritage certificate to show what was going on. Fortunately, I always got by with that. Had I not, the next step would have been to prove to the state authorities that the engine number on the title was the one in the car and get them to amend the title to show the VIN and not the engine number. That would have been rough since the original engine had been replaced at some point prior to my ownership.

The last couple of years I owned the car I applied for classic plates and listed the VIN as the VIN on the application. The state went along with that.

IMO, the best thing Art can do is contact the DMV in Ohio and explain the problem. From:

Auto Title FAQs - Franklin County Clerk of Courts.

### There is an error on my Certificate of Title. How do I correct it?

Please contact any Clerk of Courts Title Office. A clerk will review the records and assist you with how to proceed with correcting your Certificate of Title.

Arm yourself with paperwork.

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The Catch-22 is that to make a correction to an Ohio title you must first have an Ohio title.

But the discrepancy prevents him from getting an Ohio title !


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Are you missing the Ca tag?

Yes, but before he can do anything he needs to get in touch with the folks in Ohio, preferably in person, and explain the problem and ask them how to proceed. And I suspect that person will be the Clerk of Courts.

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VIN = Vehicle Identification Number. That is, a Number by which the Vehicle could be Identified - hopefully uniquely. Prior to 1981 there was no standardized way of identifying vehicles, but they still needed to be identified for titling purposes. In the US, states tended to use the chassis number, but sometimes the engine number was used. All they needed was some number that was unique to that car. When the E-Type came along it didn’t have a chassis, so there was no chassis number. The Data Plate contained a “Car Number” which was the usual choice for licensing/titling purposes. That Car Number was stamped on the Picture Frame crossmember at the front of the engine bay on the S1 and S2 cars, and in multiple locations on the later S3 cars. When California added the Jxx tag to the E-Types at the port of entry some authorities included that as a prefix to the Car Number to form a VIN to identify the car.

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Okay, then what is this?

Granted, it’s on my XJS, and I don’t recall what was/was not on my E-Type as I sold that 30 years ago.

On the nameplate photo posted by @big2bird, that shows a “car” number, it also shows a “body” number.

The “body” number should be the equivalent to the chassis number.

The “car” number would be the vehicle identification number (all lower case for a reason as the “car” is the “vehicle”, and then it is numbered.

The VIN # in Calif is J681E16976, as required in Ca at that time.
Were special. Lol

That’s what was used on later cars…such as your XJS. The older cars didn’t have it!


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