The owner of an independent 4x4 dealership told staff to forge the signature of a car's former owner to get a copy of the V5.
It was a mistake put down to the pressure on his business by the tough market conditions, he said.
Nene Overland, a motor retailer near Peterborough, had bought the £13,000 Land Rover Defender at auction without a logbook.
Business owner Andrew Harrison-Smith authorised staff to forge the signature of the previous owner on a V62 form in order to obtain a new V5.
However he wasn't aware that the vehicle had been auctioned without the owner's knowledge.
The case only came to light after the Defender was spotted by the owner's friend in a feature in Land Rover Owner International magazine, which had borrowed it from Nene Overland.
Harrison-Smith pleaded guilty to one charge of fraud by abuse of position when he appeared at Peterborough Magistrates’ Court. He has been bailed pending sentencing.
He told the Peterborough Evening Telegraph afterwards that Defender had been checked and seemed okay.
To avoid a long wait to get the logbook, the form was forged.
“We carried out all the checks we could, and nothing had come up in the car’s history to make us suspicious.
“If we had known what had happened we would have taken the car back to the auctioneer’s immediately."