Tracing Your Car's History
Hello, Several years ago I had in Los Angeles a Jaguar XK150 3.8 ltr FHC left hand drive. Registration number 428 BUK. The chassis number is S836953, the present colour is light blue, with grey interior. The original colour is pearl grey, with red interior. I'd like to track down the previous owners of this Jaguar. From the Certificate of Title I know that the Robert J. Pond Living Trust (from Spring Park) was the last owner. I bought the car in February, 1992 from The Chequered Flag at Marina Del Rey, who bought the car at an auction at Rick Cole Auctions, 10701 Riverside Drive, North Holleywood. I am now restoring the Jaguar to its original pearl grey colour and red trim. I'd like to know more about the history of the car: - previous owners, - the respray in cotswold blue and former restoration, - the accident damage, the left front wing has been renewed, - was the car used in rallies, - any documentation on the car (logbook, maintenance, manual and photographs). If somebody knows anything about this car or thinks he knows something, please let me know. - Jan Bijlsma
Jan: With your title in hand you can go to your local Dept. of Motor Vehicle, fill out the forms and pay a small fee and request a title history which will take you back to when it came into the state. If your car was transfered in from another state, again, with your documentation in hand, or by mail, you may request a title history from that state. Just follow the chain until you reach the Manufacturers Statement of Origin. Happy hunting, mine had seventeen owners, five reposessions, and three restoratons (I use this term in the broadest sense) in as many years and then sat in storage for twenty-one years, all within 85,000 documented miles. - Skip Smith, 1958 XK150 DHC 837441
Someone recently brought up an interest in tracing the history of his early XK120 FHC. I also have been trying to trace back the previous owners of my car. However, I have found that it is nearly impossible to obtain this information beyond about 10 years. For example, when I requested copies of titles for previous owners, I got the last two but no more -- the Commonwealth of Virginia just informed me that they have destroyed all records of vehicle titles older than 10 years! (Can this be true? I nearly always keep my cars for more than 10 years.) JDHT certificate says that the car first came into the US through Hornburg Jaguar in LA in 1951. I wrote to them also, but have gotten no response. So I ask if any of you know how to obtain this information. I am really surprised that records like this are being destroyed. I suppose it is an indication that there are so few of us crazy enough to be interested in tracing the history of a car! In New England where I live, there are hundreds of historical societies with people who trace their homes back through all the owners, and knives, flags, guns, paintings, furniture, milking stools etc. owned by historical figures....you would think there would be a similar interest in doing so for classic cars. - Carl Hanson, 1951 XK120 FHC
Carl, Try a established company that generates mailing lists. They may have some old lists that they have generated in the past for a particular area. You would need to know what towns or Zip code areas to look. I know from experience that lists are generated for shops and businesses catering to cars. It may cost some money to get access to the databases. For that matter, some of the older car businesses in the area that do flyers may retain some of the lists. - Cleo Bay Jr.
Could the state have destroyed records that are ten years old? This may be true, at least in effect. When I put my car back in registration after more than ten years, the state (Washington) had to go back into a microfiche dead file to retrieve their records. I am not sure whether they would have done that, if my interest had been lineage rather than re-registration and I don't know how far the microfiche would take them. I bought the car in San Diego in 1969, it was a nearly undriveable wreck owned by a student.. I have long since despared at the possibility of tracing its' lineage. - Carl in Seattle XK120FHC 680305
Hello to all; I have been following this discussion for the last few days and thought I would add my $0.02. When I need a history on a car I use a title runner. This is a person who processes titles for the car dealerships. They know the people at the state offices and can get the history from the archives. When they run into a title dead end from another state they contact one of there associates in that state and start the process there. Remember you are working backwards so there is always a trail. I have never not been able to get the history on a car. It just take $$$ and time. - Regards, Skip Smith, XK150DHC
I recommend How to Find Cars and Owners, by Barbara Spear and Mike Brezden, pubd 1991, ISBN 0-9630588-1-9, printed by James & Sons, 2421 Arch Road, Norristown PA 19401. Sets out the State records and a whole range of other tips. - Regards, John Elmgreen
Skip, How do you find these title runners? I've hit a wall in tracing my car's history, but would love to finish. - Ron, 150 dhc
Ron; Stop by one of the new car dealerships in your area, ask to speak with their title clerk. Find out if this person runs the titles for the dealership or if they use a runner. If the clerk runs the titles ask what they would charge, if they are not the one who run the titles find out what the persons name is and the number. Meet them at the dealership. Explain what you want. If they hit a out of state in the history find out who their contact is in that state and ask them to have them run it for you. It may cost a few $$ but you should be able to get hard copies of each title and registration. the most I have ever paid is $150. - Good luck, Skip Smith
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