If you are CA, there isn't $1500 in back DMV fees owed, regardless of what the DMV clerk's computer states. Under CA law, the most one can be charged for back fees is double the last unpaid registration, regardless of how many years haven't been paid/ You only pay the fees of the first year missed and the current year, nothing else. This info is shown on the renewal notice, as well as the DMV website.
As far as the bank note goes, who did you buy the truck from? If the person who you purchased it from, you should have gone to the bank and paid them in order to get the title, if you just gave him the money, you screwed yourselves, and need to contact the lender and negotiate a settlement of the remaining balance, then take the seller to court.
What did you pay for it?, If it is clean, it it likely worth $4-5k depending on your area, the DMV fees, if in CA, should be about $260-$350 for fees and smog check, the lender should be willing to negotiate a lower amount than what the note is for, since you are not the borrower and it will clear the account.
I would pay up. Grinding the vins and not making it straight with the owner of the vehicle (the bank) will only get you in to trouble
Correct, if ever discovered by Law Enforcement, the least of your concerns would be the impounding of the rig.
plus who has a loan on an almost 30 year old car? Your plan is going to set you up for trouble.
Previous owner could have bought it from a used car lot, or borrowed against it.