Cut and Shut

Reporter: Jonathan Creek

They're the ticking time bombs on our roads -- wrecks re-birthed, two cars joined to make one - they're dangerous and often undetectable. For 33-year-old Car enthusiast Kane Gebert, owning a limited edition Brock Commodore was a lifelong dream and last year he spent his lifesavings, $40,000, to make it all come true. "What attracted me to this one, it was red and it was manual, it was one of the rarer versions", Kane said.

But only some of this car is actually the rare, original. "You would probably say that I've either bought one third of a genuine Brock or two thirds of a genuine Brock but most certainly not a genuine Brock", Kane said. He flew to country News South Wales to inspect the vehicle after seeing the ad, in which the car was declared "genuine". "Even the contract the fellow signed with me, he stated that he didn't misrepresent the car and that it was a genuine 1980 VC Brock Commodore", Kane said.

The vehicle even came with a full history of road worthy certificates, the last three done at a Bridgestone Service Centre in Orange, New South Wales. None of them mention the cut and shut repair. A statement from the company claim structural inspections aren't part of the NSW Road worthy inspection process and that being "cut and shut" is not a reason on its own for a fail. That may be the case, but car body inspections are and Kane claims the dodgy work should've been spotted. "There are clear instructions on how the car should be inspected and it says that you must inspect the floor pan, the chassis and the sub frame sections, so he should have found it most definitely", Kane said.

Only when Kane had his own mechanic Paul Wittick inspect the vehicle, after he'd bought it, was the full extent of the bodgie work revealed. David Vardanega, sold Kane the car. Not comfortable speaking on camera David claims he sold the vehicle at face value unaware it was cut and shut and the three road worthies he paid for suggested nothing different. In fact when Kane alerted David to the situation, he offered to help pay for the repairs to get the car back on the road.

Mother of three Nancy Osmanogic isn't so lucky. Last year she bought a Holden Berlina from New South Wales which looked good. But there is footage from 2007, showing the car being driven into a concrete barrier at 100 km an hour. It was later sold at auction as a repairable write off in Victoria, before being joined to another car and sold interstate. "The panel beater said it was a death trap, and unfortunately we had no other motor vehicle at the time, so I had to take my kids to school every day until we were able to get another car, to find the money to get another car", Nancy said.

But profiting from wrecks isn't just the backyard occupation of a crooked few. An estimated 13,000 cars are rebirthed each year and it's big business for organised crime syndicates. Usually the cars are what insurance companies call repairable write offs, openly sold at auction houses before being stuck to another wreck, shipped across state borders and sold with a clean registration record.

New South Wales Police, Andrew Waterman says, "There are real dangers when people buy cars that haven't been repaired safely". It may be too late for Nancy and Kane but in an effort to stop the misleading trade of chopped cars, last month the Australian Government changed the laws and now transport authorities in each state support websites that for around $15.00 buyers can search the VIN number of a car and access it's complete history. "It is very important they do as many checks as they can, have someone examine the vehicle and make sure it's a safe vehicle before spending their money", Andrew said."It's virtually $40,000 that you throw away, you throw away the Peter Brock name, the Peter Brock tags that should be on it, that are on it that don't deserve to be on it and you're left with about $5,000 worth of parts", Kane said.

For further information to check the VIN, visit the website at:

Information on the Department of Transport website at www.transport.wa.gov.au/licensing/20800.asp#20581

To find out if your vehicle is listed on the Written-Off Vehicle Register or if the car you are buying has money owing on it, check out PPSR online.

To make a PPSR enquiry, you will only need to provide the chassis or Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). Note that there will be no provision for searching or registering an interest by plate or engine number on the PPS Register.

· Telephone PPSR on 1300 007 777

· PPSR online is administered by the Registrar of Personal Property Securities

PPSR can tell you whether a vehicle, boat or farm machinery has money owing on it before making a purchase. This is important because someone else (e.g. a bank or finance company) may be able to repossess the vehicle you have purchased.

A search of the PPS Register will also create a request for vehicle information from the National Exchange of Vehicle and Driver Information System - NEVDIS. Depending on the information NEVDIS holds, this will include written off and stolen status information in addition to make, model, colour and other information.