Journal: Where Has Your Car Been All Its Life?

Where Has Your Car Been All Its Life?

Avatar By Benjamin Shahrabani
December 18, 2014
11 comments

Photography by Josh Clason

At both Petrolicious: Drive Tastefully events, the wide range of cars was astounding. At Drive Tastefully: Malibu, James Chen’s (ahem, “cocaine”) white-on-white Lamborghini Countach got me wondering who the first owner might have been. Was he (or she) a Lamborghini enthusiast trading up to the latest and greatest from a Miura or Espada, or perhaps a Miami drug lord who craved the attention and prestige a scissor-door Lamborghini would bring?

Several other cars on display, among them two vintage Ferraris, a 330 GTC, and the “Queen Mother” 365 GT had me speculating too. Not if they had been piloted by kingpins, but about their “genealogy”. Genealogy is more commonly known as the study of family history, but it can also be an account of an object’s origin and historical development, in this case cars. And this can be applied to your car, because a car’s genealogy–where it was built, delivered, travelled, whose hands it has passed through, and where its going–is continuous and evolving.

A vehicle with history is typically more interesting, not to mention valuable. The original bill of sale, window sticker, receipts, photos, race history, and even a speeding ticket or two paint a portrait of where, how, and with whom the car has spent its life, and give an extra dimension and insight to what the car has been through on the way to your ownership. I myself am researching the previous owners of my 1967 Porsche 911S, currently undergoing restoration. Who was the Italian gentleman who purchased it new, in the very sixties color of Bahama Yellow, early in 1967? Was he a character out of a film directed by Fellini or Risi?

I have his name, but have been unable to track him down. All I know is where he purchased the car, the list price, and that he took it back to Porsche at thirty-one thousand kilometers noted on the odometer for a transmission replacement. For some that might be enough, but I would love to know where he drove it, and how his driving style necessitated a tranny replacement so early in the Porsche’s life.

For myself, and many others I spoke to at the event, learning about our particular car’s ownership is one of the things that stood out, and was a common theme. Discovering this information is just as intriguing as the vehicle itself. These are interesting questions that may or not have interesting answers.

If one is interested, with some sleuthing you may be able to discover some of your car’s history. A simple Google search of your car’s VIN may turn something up. Once data is online, it’s usually there forever. Try a website or forum dedicated to your car’s marque or model. Odds are, it may have been discussed there previously, or someone knows something. Some manufacturers have a ‘heritage’ or archive division, and may be able to provide you with some tidbits. An old registration document may show the name and address of a previous owner, so an internet search might reveal that individual. Depending on where you live, the DMV may or may not be helpful. But if you do happen to track down a former owner, and if you ask nicely, you may hear a good story and some details on the car itself. With enough time, effort, and some luck, a fuller picture of your car’s past life may become clearer.

Have you searched out your car’s genealogy, or do you have any interesting stories to share about your car’s history? What do you imagine the history of your car will be in ten years? Petrolicious would love to hear your stories!

Where has your car been all its life?

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Emanuel Costa
Emanuel Costa

Well, I have a recent (2009), plain, silver, and boring but spacious station wagon, but still I was amused by it’s history, it was what permitted me to buy it. The first owner was an old man who bought all the confort extras he could get. Then the second owner, a friend of him, bought the station to is wife. But the first time she drove the car, she scratched it in the right side near the wheel arch trying to enter the garage and ran away saying she would never drive the car again. The husband placed the car… Read more »

Tim Joslyn
Tim Joslyn

Must admit, it’s the history of some of our my that attracts me the most and we are always trying fairly hard to track them down. Our prototype 1972 MGB V8 even has the original invoice from the factory, plus details of all works and previous owners (see [url=”https://www.getpatina.com/vehicles/0KobPQ4GOb”]here[/url]) and our 1973 BMW 2002 was used by the previous owner at a lot of shows so we have a lot of photographs from over the years (see [url=”https://www.getpatina.com/vehicles/HnKP2YaGC6″]here[/url]) Bottom line, For me it’s the history and story of the cars that differentiates one from another. Provenance doesn’t have to mean… Read more »

felix
felix

All our Cars have been family cars, so the history of all our cars is known in picture movie and documents!

Kuroneko
Kuroneko

Mostly boring stuff – my 356 was a simple local delivery, and my 911 a tourist delivery from the factory… However, my S800 has the unique history of being made in Japan, sold new in Birmingham, where it lived all its life on one set of plates and perhaps only four owners. Until repatriated back to Japan, in time for a drive back to Honda and the Motegi 50th Anniversary of Honda’s S-cars… Neko.

Gianni Burrows
Gianni Burrows

My 1973 Alfa GTV is a US 115 series car purchased in Europe by the first owner. The first owner owned the car in Nevada until 1976. The next owner lived in the SF Bay Area and owned the car until the late 1980’s and gave the car to his daughter when he got too old to take care of it. She decided to go back to school and get a computer science degree and sold it to me in 1992. I drove the car home from Cupertino to Seattle on Janary 2, 1992 and I’ve owned it ever since.… Read more »

Erick
Erick

My 1959 Austin Healey ‘Bugeye’ Sprite has been in my possession only a year now, but it has been in my family since ’62. My great uncle was the second owner, and he did some amateur SCCA autocrossing in it back in the 60s. He then gave it to his daughter who drove it until the late 90s or so, when it became just a bit too unreliable for normal use. She kept all the receipts so I have them back to ’72 or so. I eventually ended up with it because my dad and uncle are more interesting in… Read more »

Todd Cox
Todd Cox

There are three Miatas in my household; I know the story on two of them, and the youngest one is 19 years old now. But those aren’t the most interesting car in the family. My father bought a 1964 Sunbeam Alpine for a song during a remote duty station in Utah back in late ’75 or early ’76 by my best recollection; I was 5 or 6. It then stayed in tow for us for the next several decades until it came to rest in my father’s garage in Williamsburg, VA. When my father passed away a few years back,… Read more »

Kuroneko
Kuroneko

That’s a great looking Alpine, and one with a nice history too. I look forward to reading about its repatriation one day soon… Good luck!

Frank Anigbo
Frank Anigbo

I am lucky to know much about the last 20 years of my newly acquired Maserati Mexico – because the previous owner is a friend who kept meticulous records. But what excites me the most is finding out more about the original owner, a doctor from Palermo, Italy. who Maserati’s records contain basic but strong leads for locating him or his family. I did a cursory search on the Internet and found what looks like evidence that the family moved to New York sometime in the 70s. Is that how the car came to America? Or am I chasing a… Read more »

Bertram Wooster
Bertram Wooster

I got my ’91 Miata 14 (!) years ago out of SoCal and I have to guess that the PO used it to commute ON Hermosa Beach based on the sand in unusual places and the fact that EVERY SINGLE UNDERCAR FASTNER is rusted solid.

Matthew Lange
Matthew Lange

My Dad has always been fairly thorough about tracking down as much history as possible on the cars he has owned. When he acquired his Ferrari 250 SWB (3605GT for those into Ferrari S/N’s) the previously ownership history was well known so Dad was able to write to all the previous owners. One (the third owner I believe) wrote a long and in places very amusing letter is response recounting his history with the car. The best anecdote refers to when he was driving the SWB in Italy heading to the Ferrari factory. Apparently he was cruising on the autrostrada… Read more »