ricosan

Help Searching Ownership History

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Good morning Everyone,

 

I bought my 1932 Marmon a couple of years ago.  All I know about the car is that it was owned by the same gentleman for the past 35 or 40 years.  

 

Unfortunately the gentlemen passed away about 3 or 4 years ago. I wrote to his wife who was in a nursing home but she was in very poor health and was unable to speak to me.  I did speak to his son but he had limited information and I didn't know the right questions to ask.  He said that there was no paper work.  I've owned the car for just over 2 years and my file (manila folder) is over 3" thick!

 

I would like to try to put together some type of history for the car but I'm not sure how to go about it.  With today"s internet and searchable data bases at motor vehicle departments, is there a way to trace the ownership back to the dealer?

 

All help appreciated.

 

ricosan

 

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Not to discourage you, and I would certainly try, but perhaps too much hope shouldn't be held out for help at your motor vehicle department.  At least in Virginia, unlike the perpetual retention that real estate records enjoy, you can't depend on the DMV to have kept vehicle ownership records indefinitely.  Privacy concerns are also an issue.  Digitization of these records likely wouldn't have begun until some time after the previous owner made his purchase, and though it seems unfair, there are limits to how long aging paper info is kept.  (I am a first hand victim of the purging of an old title and antique registration, luckily I could prove both existed)
Persistent but polite pursuit of family members and possible club associates, and publicizing your quest for information may be your best bets.  With such an important and rare classic, someone must know more about it.

Edited by Dave Henderson (see edit history)

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I don't think it would be possible to know which dealer it came from unless someone salvaged the Marmon factory records.

 

I would try one more time with the son to try to get a list of the last owners friends in the hobby. 

 

Also, a very rare car like that has a better chance of showing up in old newsletters/magazines covering long ago shows and tours.

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Here is a picture of your car circa November 1962.  I think it was in Florida or down south at that time because I have pictures of it at an early AACA show in Florida.

IMG_20161120_0001.jpg

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I did a bunch of research on finding previous owners for collector cars years ago for a magazine which I edited. Also, I have searched for info on my own cars' histories. The most important things I learned were:

1) Focus on learning the name of the owner previous to the guy you bought the car from. In Ohio that would be present on the old title, BEFORE you transfer to a new title in your name. 

2) Look for any kind of receipts or paperwork in the car, or in any papers you received with the car. Repair or insurance receipts often have names of car owners on them. 

3) See if you can find the insurance company which insured the car for the owner you bought it from, and ask the son to contact them for you. Sometimes they have more info than you might have expected. 

4) In Ohio, the Bureau of Motor Vehicles is very diligent in destroying all obsolete information at the state level. But many of our county registrars actually have kept their old records. In Greene County, where I live, they had the original VIN and other info from a Camaro I owned many years ago on a 3 x 5 index card. I used that to find my old car in later years. Every state is different, so you may want to pick up the phone and contact your state BMV headquarters, and ask to speak to someone in a senior management position. Tell them what you are trying to achieve, and ask if they can give you any tips on how to do your research. But if they discourage you, don't give up too easily. 

5) Since the vehicle in question is a collector car, check with AACA for chapters in the region, along with the Classic Car Club of America (CCCA), and others, to see if anyone remembers the previous owner by name, or the car itself. Someone may recall when your previous owner acquired the car, and where. 

6) On virtually every search I ever conducted like this, I was told that no info was available at every turn. But I eventually realized that the info is sometimes out there somewhere, but it can be a LOT of work to find it. Why should an employee somewhere take it upon himself or herself to go back into warehouses full of old dusty, dirty boxes and file cabinets, and dig through filthy piles of paperwork for a stranger. Today I always suggest offering a reward for any pertinent info. In a few cases, back when I wrote magazine columns about such things, I advised people who were researching their Camaro's (and had been turned away by the dealership where their car came from) to re-contact the dealership with an announcement of a cash reward for any info like original bills of sale, service repair invoices (which often had Protecto-Plate images imprinted upon them), etc. It didn't always work, but a few folks contacted me with the happy news that a reward offer of a couple hundred bucks had led to the discovery of "long-ago-destroyed" records. It was worth it, in cases where someone was finally able to prove that their Camaro really was an original muscle car model, or etc. 

 

Finding out what area the car came from before the guy you bought it from originally bought the car is critical information to your search. Good luck. 

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I realized a while back that all issues of Antique Automobile have been put on a disc and is available for purchase.  Taking one of these discs and searching for 1932 Marmons may turn up a photo or two of the car at a show and would probably include the owners name at that time.  Someone with more knowledge of the disc may comment on this. 

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45 minutes ago, 1937hd45 said:

That radiator shell looks a lot nicer to ne than the on they used on the V-16. Bob

 

I agree, Bob.  I think the V-16's look a bit angular and

blocky, not as graceful as Ricosan's Marmon pictured above.

But the V-16 is noteworthy for its engine---

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