Journal: How Much Of Your Car’s History Do You Really Want To Know?

How Much Of Your Car’s History Do You Really Want To Know?

Michael Banovsky By Michael Banovsky
June 29, 2016
14 comments

Photography by Michael Banovsky

Aside from the high stakes world of Concours-level chassis plate, engine, and bodywork swaps—or vehicles that have won things or have been made famous—used classics are often just used cars. In period, they started as a normal car, were likely sold at a sketchy used car dealer or two along the way, and in many cases, lived a lot of history that will forever remain undocumented. How much of this history is really important?

The shining example from my life, my 1973 Porsche 914 2.0-litre, is suffering through a period of benign neglect. It’s been in the family for more than three decades at this point, but when my parents picked it up in the late ’70s, it had already seen three owners. It also—if you were standing in front of the car looking closely enough—was repainted a fetching shade of dusty rose at some point.

Reason? Who knows.

The car was never heavily modified, which is great, but I shudder to think of its first owner getting to grips with its mid-engine handling in the dead of our Canadian winter.

How much of your car’s history do you really want to know? Moreover—do you think it may have a few secrets left to reveal?

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Mike AldridgeMichael MaddalenaShawn SepehryPedro CampuzanoM3racer Recent comment authors
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Mike Aldridge
Mike Aldridge

While working on my white 944 I discovered some white overspray underneath in the wheel arch, and a bit around the side window. I just pretended not to see it, I didn’t want to know if it was just a paint touch up or accident repair. Ignorance is bliss sometimes. (I’m pretty sure it was just a touch up…)

Michael Maddalena
Michael Maddalena

Back in 2012, I purchased a ’67 Mercedes Fintail to convert into a tribute rally car. The story I got at the time was that it was owned by a US Army colonel who bought it while stationed in Brussels. His wife’s name was Mercedes and she was born in Puerto Rico. About a year later I received a package from the seller with a host of service records and a letter addressed to another female owner. The letter was from Mercedes telling the new owner how much she loved this car and how happy she was that it was… Read more »

Shawn Sepehry
Shawn Sepehry

Although my car is not a classic (2007 525xi) I can relate to this very well. I bought the car because it had a rare color combination , at least in my area, with the Auburn interior. Although I did a mechanical inspection, I didn’t dig through too deep because I didn’t want to be dissuaded from the purchase. My father’s advice of car-shopping on a full stomach has never been more true. Once I took possession of the car, I found evidence to what I believe is that the previous owner was a careless female. The plastic window switch… Read more »

Pedro Campuzano
Pedro Campuzano

As it happens I had a 73 914 2.0 that lived with me for 14 years and while in my “care” went through two restorations including color change to red, several crashes, an autocross career, multiple cross country trips and just general hard driving. It survived it’s time with this young man and many years later I saw the car for sale on eBay and contacted seller. I filled him in on the car’s adventures with me, he bought from guy who bought from me. I think he half heartedly appreciated the info and put the high bidder in touch… Read more »

M3racer
M3racer

There is an owner of an E30 M3 that used to be a drug dealer’s car. He found a secret compartment(s) while working on the car.

Tim Joslyn
Tim Joslyn

Ok, so I’m biased but for me its the history that makes the cars. Take my MGB V8 (https://www.getpatina.com/vehicles/0KobPQ4GOb) . It’s the factory prototype with hand fabricated panels to shoehorn the V8 in and then kept by the factory and used for speed trials and other development tasks. Without its history it is just another MGB, with its history it is an important car in the MG factory’s history. Not all my cars have quite as impressive background, however I still make sure that I document as much of the cars life as possible (and that is not just receipts… Read more »

Jason Cayde
Jason Cayde

From a non-owner’s side, it’s interesting digging back and seeing what a car’s seen, done, and been through. When I worked at a pick’n’pull yard, I’d spend whatever free time I had rummaging through some of the yard inventory to see how much I could find from leftover possessions and papers alone. Some lived in the same city and got scrapped at 200k, some came from California (to central Ontario) with well over 500k on the clock. Some were appliances, like the litany of Grand Caravans and or Intrepids that flooded in on a weekly basis. Some were service vehicles… Read more »

Eba Normaalne
Eba Normaalne

my first car a 87′ fc3s non turbo was imported from USA somehow in 94′ somebody had a rich relative in there i guess, probably the first one in Estonia, didn’t know more. The second i still have is a 89′ 6 port turbo, it had an overweight owner (i can also see it from the seats), found his wrist gold chain under the carpet( a big one), the car had pretty heavy hail damage, drivers door and window were busted, it had some bad chassis floor repairs done in Lithuania, (thick metal pieces welded on the rust) that’s why… Read more »

geelongvic
geelongvic

Michael, this gets to the heart of the Petrolicious mission of documenting the intersection of a car’s history with the personal life of the owner or owners, something that Petrolicious tries to show weekly. In my particular case, I know virtually the entire history of my 1973 Porsche 914 2.0 which was purchased new initially by owners in Warren, Michigan, passed into the hands of Ron B. R. of New Haven, Michigan. This 914 was only driven during the summers and was in extraordinarily good condition when I bought it in 1979 from Ron. I have been the owner of… Read more »

geelongvic
geelongvic

Correction: 37 years of ownership of the 1973 914.

r1200to7series
r1200to7series

Last year I jumped on the purchase of a 2002 BMW 330Ci convertible 5 speed. Driven only 14,000 miles in 14 years. I asked the seller the basic questions – any accidents, garaged, oil changes, etc. but I didn’t run a carfax. I didn’t want anything to get in the way of my excitement and potentially talk me out of it. Instead, I relied on my judgement and the photos in the ad and made my decision. Bought it sight unseen. Now that its in my garage I am discovering some of it’s history…a couple parking lot door dings, minor… Read more »

Joshua Seidenberg
Joshua Seidenberg

I know my 328 has a sketchy past. It only had a couple of owners but it was treated poorly. It was a 20 footer when I found it baking on a lot not too far from DFW. The interior was toast but mechanically the engine was good, though the tires were dry rotten. She was like a sad dog in need of a good home…so I rescued her. Now this car is beautiful and extremely well kept.