Where Has Your Car Been All Its Life?
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?