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Any ideas on researching prior ownership in CA


DarylM
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I would like to research the ownership history of my car back to its original sale in 1923.   I think it is likely that it was originally sold in California.  I have been told by several sources that books were published until 1923 listing all registered cars in California.  It seems that stopped in 1923 (bad timing on my part).   I am interested in the time period of 1923-1953.

 

It seems like later registrations ought to appear on microfilm or some media somewhere.  Any direction or ideas would be appreciated.

Daryl

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Yep,   there is a common misconception that the state's department of motor vehicles are sitting on a treasure trove of info.   Some states go back further than others,  but in general you need to be in law enforcement to get access to the data,  and I doubt anybody has anything later than 25 years old.

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I've heard rumors here in New Jersey that the State Police have a database on automobile history that goes back further that the 7 years the state claims is all they have.  But again it's just a rumor.....

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3 hours ago, DarylM said:

I would like to research the ownership history of my car back to its original sale in 1923.   I think it is likely that it was originally sold in California.  I have been told by several sources that books were published until 1923 listing all registered cars in California.  It seems that stopped in 1923 (bad timing on my part).   I am interested in the time period of 1923-1953.

 

It seems like later registrations ought to appear on microfilm or some media somewhere.  Any direction or ideas would be appreciated.

Daryl

Daryl...could you tell us what make of car, body style, and anything else you know about it.  There are various marque sub-forums on this website (scroll down and you will see many such as Buick, Dodge, Ford, etc.).   People with similar queries are advised to post in those arenas to narrow down the hunt for info.

 

Regards,

 

Peter J.

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In 1948 or '49, in Sacramento, Califunny, there was a huge warehouse fire that destroyed all previous year's records. That is the reason that Califunny isn't very difficult to regenerate a title for pre WWII automobiles. If it wasn't registered after the fire? There is no surviving record in the state files. So the DMV won't argue with you. The DMV told me this over fifty years ago. And I later confirmed the story was well known in the hobby here in those days. 

The state also claims that records are kept for only five years. However, there have been a few high profile crimes where news reports let it out that the state was able to track records back a few decades. SO, yes, law enforcement does have better resources than admitted to.

 

Pictures and information of the car could help a lot! A lot of people here have been in this hobby for a very long time!

 

As soon as I finish here, I am going to begin looking through a couple boxes of photos I have taken over the past forty years looking for pictures I took of a friend's car on tours, that is now being re-restored by its new caretaker.

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Thank you to all who replied.  I should have indicated that the car I am trying to research is a 1923 Mercer Series Six Sporting.  I can trace it back to Louis Stiritz who sold it to William Harrah’s.  Prior to about 1947 the ownership gets fuzzy.  
 

Considering Wayne Sheldon’s comment it sounds like the end of the line.  Still I am not too disappointed to only know he past 73 years of its history.

 

Thanks to all for the input

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  • 2 months later...
On 2/4/2020 at 1:48 PM, A. Ballard 35R said:

I assume that you are referring to serial # 20239 which according to a Mercer Associates roster does not go back further than Louis Stiritz, as you mention. There are several people who specialize in this sort of search but they will probably charge for their services.

Hi,

Could you possibly have contact info for the several people who might search and charge?

I am trying to trace a 1933 Pierce-Arrow V12 convertible sedan prior to 1980.

Thanks,

Bob

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