How to check your classic car’s history in six easy ways

, How to check your classic car’s history in six easy ways, The Evepost News

Ownership of a classic car introduces you to a brilliant world of motoring. One where you not only get to drive the car of your dreams, but where you’ll also be able to share your passion with like-minded enthusiasts. 

If you already own a classic then this won’t come as news, but there’s another aspect of ownership that can be very rewarding; tracing the history of your car. 

Unearthing the story behind your cherished motor is not only enjoyable but, when the time comes to sell, that history – especially if you discover something unusual – might well prove an added attraction to potential buyers. 

So if you’re ready to do some detective work, here’s how to get started.

How to find out the history of your classic car

1. Use the internet

, How to check your classic car’s history in six easy ways, The Evepost News


Twitter or Facebook have motoring communities that could help you unearth facts about your classic car


Credit: Getty Images

Love it or hate it, social media can be very helpful when it comes to a search like this. If you’re already using the likes of Twitter or Facebook to communicate with fellow enthusiasts then posting information about your search is well worth trying. 

Specific classic car or marque forums are another key tool in the hunt for information, and don’t forget to simply input your car’s registration number into a search engine. It may have appeared in magazine or website articles, been sold at auction, or been photographed at a car show or rally – it might seem like a long shot but you never know what might turn up.

2. Contact car clubs

Here at the Telegraph, we’re always keen to champion the wealth of brilliant car clubs that are out there, and when you need help with your classic there’s nowhere better to start.  

The knowledge of their members never ceases to amaze us, so getting in touch with details of your search is a great first step. And remember that many clubs keep production records and archives of the models they cover, and details of your car may just be among them.  

, How to check your classic car’s history in six easy ways, The Evepost News


Car clubs are a fantastic resource for researching any classic car, and are likely the best place to start your search

3. Try the car mags

If your favourite classic car magazine has a letters page then it’s well worth getting in touch, providing details of your car and asking whether readers have any information. 

There’s a huge amount of knowledge out there, and magazines will always be happy to pass on any replies they receive. Perhaps a previous owner of your car will be one of those readers…

4. Other heritage sources

If it’s a British classic that you own then the British Motor Industry Heritage Trust (the archive of the British Motor Museum) could provide some fascinating information about your car. It won’t have information about previous owners, of course, but it may well hold original production details which form a great piece of the car’s story. 

, How to check your classic car’s history in six easy ways, The Evepost News

And they can also provide an official Heritage Certificate for the factory records, which is nice to have. It’s also worth contacting car makers themselves – a number of which have strengthened their heritage operations in recent years – as they may also be a good source of factory build data.  

, How to check your classic car’s history in six easy ways, The Evepost News


You never know – you might discover that your car was originally owned by rock royalty. Like the 1956 Austin Princess that this registration document shows was originally owned by John Lennon


Credit: Stephen Kim/RM Sotheby’s

5. What about the vendor?

Whether you’re buying your classic from a garage or a private seller, don’t forget to ask them about any information they might have. From old MOT certificates to service and maintenance records, it all helps to piece together a car’s story, and you might be lucky and find that they already have knowledge of previous owners. 

And even if not any snippet of information they can provide might just point you in the right direction when it comes to tracking down that elusive history.

6. The DVLA

Recent years have seen the rules around data protection get ever tighter, and while that’s a good thing it makes tracking down a car’s history via official sources that bit harder.  

Naturally, then, the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) won’t just hand out details of previous owners and you need to have a good reason for requesting any information it holds, but it will consider each application on its own merits. 

So, it could still be worth completing form V888 and paying a fiver. If nothing else you might discover the number of previous owners, along with any information about colour or engine changes in the car’s past.

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