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How do you find vehicle history on a classic car?


slmcg
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Forget the DMV. They'll take your money for a search and the write you back that they only keep records for 10 years.

If the car is unrestored you may luck out and find bits of information under the seats or behind the glove box. The trunk may reveal some clues, too.

I found records for my car in Ford's records only because it had been damaged in transit, otherwise production cars from that era offer few clues to their origins.

So many records have been destroyed over the years. The biggest blow to Ford's records was when the Rotunda burned. The building was used for storage of paper, which just added fuel to the fire.

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Or...you can go directly to the Chrysler Historical folks in Auburn Hills, Michigan. Give them the serial number and $45.00 and they will send you a copy of the car's original "build-order sheet". It will show exactly how your car came (options, colors, wheel style, etc.) and who originally ordered it. They have a website. I just have not figured out how to attach one to the site.

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That seems easy enough. Hope you had better luck than I did.

The Production Order for my car doesn't have an owner's name as it was one of 300 "Introductory Units" that were to sit on the showroom floor to show prospective buyers what a Mark II looks like. They were sold after the pipeline was filled. There is no record of the first owner. Arggg!!!

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Or...you can go directly to the Chrysler Historical folks in Auburn Hills, Michigan. Give them the serial number and $45.00 and they will send you a copy of the car's original "build-order sheet". It will show exactly how your car came (options, colors, wheel style, etc.) and who originally ordered it. They have a website. I just have not figured out how to attach one to the site.

You are correct except for the fact Chrysler Historical lost a lot of files and info when they supposedly had a fire in their storage facility. The years lost were from 1968-mid 1971 from what I was told. I tried going that route to get info for my 69 Charger. Shame too since thats when a lot of the muscle cars were made.

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You are correct except for the fact Chrysler Historical lost a lot of files and info when they supposedly had a fire in their storage facility. The years lost were from 1968-mid 1971 from what I was told. I tried going that route to get info for my 69 Charger. Shame too since thats when a lot of the muscle cars were made.
I believe that they still have the early 30's Dodge information.
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Don't ignore the person who you got it from. Ask him where, when and from whom he got it. Then follow up with that person and so on. The original owner might be in his 80's now wondering where his favorite car went.

I was able to follow my 1930 Packard back about 30 years but that is still about 1975. It was always around Westminster, MD as far as we could tell but the dash plate that would have had the information is missing.

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Ted, Thanks for helping keiser31 post this link.

Bill and I have a 1939 Dodge Deluxe 4 door sedan and while it will not be "restored" totally back to original (the cost would be too high) it would help us to keep as much orginal as possible. The young man that owned it before we got it from a junk yard in Green Castle, Pa. had changed some of it trying to turn it into a street rod. Then someone dumped a bottle of cola into the gas tank :mad: and the boy didn't have the money ro re-fix the engine so he junked it.

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  • 2 weeks later...
Chrysler and Pontiac owners are lucky, as the historic data exists. Oldsmobile records (for example) do not exist and owners are just out of luck.

Ditto for Buick.

My wildcat came with a few receipts, which allowed me to track every owner back to the original. I googled his name, found an obituary, googled the son's name and came up with a phone number.

Ended up having a nice 1 hour conversation with the guy who was about 10 years old when his parents bougtht the car. Unfortunately, I was about 6 months too late or I would have ended up with some great stuff like the check the car was paid for with, etc.....

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  • 9 years later...
On ‎7‎/‎13‎/‎2009 at 8:24 PM, John Hamilton said:

Don't ignore the person who you got it from. Ask him where, when and from whom he got it. Then follow up with that person and so on. The original owner might be in his 80's now wondering where his favorite car went.

Your figures don't add up.  The car is 86 years old, and the original owner would have to 102 at the 'youngest' at 16 years of age to have been able to walk in a Dodge dealer and buy one brand new in 1933.   And I really wonder how many 16 year olds who lived in the depths of the Great Depression would have had that kind of cash on them for a brand new car at the time.  

 

Craig   

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There is no simple, one fits all answer for tracing a car's history. 

1) Start with the previous owner. Ask questions, and get every piece of documentation that he has, including license registrations.

2) If the car was purchased locally, find out where it lived. Go there and ask questions.

3) A car like the 65 GTO will be a known commodity-attend local GTO/Pontiac meetings ask questions. If car wasn't purchased locally, ask questions of people where it was purchased. Someone may be keeping a register of year and model specific.

4) Take the car to local cruise nights, and mall shows- someone is apt to recognize it.

It's very important that your inquiries begin as soon as possible, before the trail gets cold. Obviously the older a car gets the harder tracing it's history becomes. Good luck

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When I purchased my "46 Ford Woodie, I carefully removed and saved the lubrication stickers on the A pillar. On the stickers were the name of the service station that serviced my car from 1946 thru 1964. On a trip across the country I found that the service station was owned by son of the original owner. He called his dad at home and he came to the station and actually remembered my car and told me the history as he remembered it from '46 to '64'.

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Bill, Here's my problem, I purchased the car from a dealer in Saint Luis and I'm in California. He told me he bought if from the widow of the man who owned it from at least 2004. There is no way of knowing how long she kept the car after her husband died before selling it to the Saint Luis Museum & Sales. He did not want to give me her information because she didn't know anything about the car. I do have documents from PHS that state what the car came with from the factory in Missouri. I have not had a chance to take it to any shows or cruises so I haven't talked to any of them yet. Thanks for your response and the good tips.

 

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