Owning a classic car is an experience unlike any other. It introduces you to the vibrant history of the motoring world. Not only are you driving the vehicle that your dreams were made of, but you’re also sharing that passion with a beautiful community of like-minded souls. Whether you are new to classic car ownership or long entrenched in the lifestyle tracing your classic car’s history can be an adventure. Taking the time to unearth the tale behind your beloved vehicle isn’t just fun for you but offers background to a potential buyer should you choose to sell.
Here we offer some tips to research the history of your classic car.
1. Ask The Seller
This might seem like a no-brainer, but your first stop is probably the person selling you the vehicle. Be sure to ask them for every piece of information and documentation they may have. This could include old MOT certificates, old logbooks or service and maintenance records. All of these items, when brought together, could fill in the blanks of your classic car’s history.
2. Search Engines and Social Media
Friend or Foe; social media can be beneficial when performing a search such as this. Jump on Twitter or Facebook and have a chat with fellow vintage vehicle enthusiasts. Let them know what you’re searching for and see if you can get some help. There are hundreds of specific groups and forums on Facebook and other social media platforms that can help in the hunt.
You could even try entering the registration or VIN into a search engine and seeing what comes up. If the car has won awards, been to an auction or been photographed in a show, it might come up on the internet.
3. Contact Car Magazines
Most car mags have a letters page where you can write to get in touch. You can pen something with the details of your classic car and ask the readers whether they have any information or knowledge of the vehicle. You will never know who could be reading your letter!
4. Get Help From The Manufacturers
Suppose you own a British classic car, such as Aston Martin, BMC, British Leyland, MG, Morris, Riley or Triumph (to name a few). In that case, you may have access to another resource in the form of the British Motor Museum Heritage Certificates. Jaguar and Daimler owners can contact Jaguar Heritage. Even BMW and Mercedes Benz have more extensive archives with details of their vintage vehicles. A call to these archivists could unearth details about the car’s build date, original colour, and any chassis details or trim specifications.
5. Contact Car Clubs
There is a plethora of amazing classic car clubs across the UK and the world. These clubs have an incredible wealth of knowledge from the members and those who run and manage the clubs. Many of these clubs will keep production records or archives of models they cover. You may need to become a member of a club to source this information, but if you plan on keeping your car, then becoming a member would be a good idea anyway!
We hope that these tips help you to discover the complete past of your vintage vehicle. Remember, you can also contact the DVLA; they won’t just hand out information, but you could pay the fee and complete a V888; this would at least give you some information on the previous owners who might respond to a letter!