I wrote to the WA DOT in hopes to trace the ownership of my 1927 Tudor, but came up empty-handed. According to the letter that was sent to me, my name is the only one on file for my car as they now purge the files when the record reaches seven years. Through local telephone calls, I have been able to trace the ownership to Mike Yaekel, who bought the car at the Portland Swap Meet in 1992. He did not recall who he purchased it from, so I have reached to blockades in the road.
For those of you who have done past history research on your car(s), is there any other way I can find out who the previous owners were? Thanks.
About the only way I know of is if you have or can find, either previous titles or registrations. Otherwise, the fields wide open. I was able to track down my '15 to the guy before the guy I bought it from, who had it totally taken apart nut and bolt for resto. The '12 I bought from a guy who had it for 35 years or so, and that's as far as that went. It's really hard to get the history of 'em. I've all but given up on my firetruck too.
Finding the history of most old cars is impossible. I haven't heard of any state keeping records beyond a few years, and old owners die. It's rare for any kind of paper trail to exist for a car that's more than thirty years old, and the further back you go the rarer it is. There are some cars that have been in the same family for many decades and have a known history, but not very many.
I think you can thank the computer for this. Before the computer, all records were of the paper type, but when computers came along all the paper had to be converted to digital. Nobody wanted to spend the money on copying the old old stuff, so it all ended in the trash. Mike
My Grandfather bought the 24 Coupe I now have in 1942.
Cant remember the name of the previous owner as its on the sales receipt in our safety deposit box.
I think there has been a few forum members that have had the same T in their family since new.
There was a thread about this before.
I have a 1909 model F Buick that I know the history to the original owner. The second owner wrote up an article about the original owner and how he (the second owner) acquired it. The car was new in Glen Elder, Kansas. I acquired the car from a friend whom I have known for many years.
I have a folder with pictures and other pertinent information about the car while it was it was in Kansas from 1909 till 1971 when the second owner purchased it at the estate sale and brought it to Oregon and started the restoration in 1978 and completed it in time for the HCCA 1 and 2 cylinder tour in Portland in 1981.
I consider myself very fortunate to have the cars history.
Both my grandfather's first cars were 1917 T fords but unfortunately I don't have either one. As far as I know neither has survived.
Our 1921 Pickup has been owned by us since 1956
and we are 2nd owners. It was owned by a barber in Ark. before that.
I have figured out the original owner of my car from paint markings found on it (L.A.F.D., the Los Angeles City Fire Department). I have a photograph of the car taken in 1927. Unfortunately I have no way of learning the path it took from Los Angeles until it was found on a mine in Virginia City, NV.
Sometimes you can work the problem from both ends.
I know the life of my 1910 for sure from 1946 when I bought it. It came from the Minneapolis garage of the Pure Oil Company. When I went to transfer the title, the Minnesota Secretary Of State Motor Vehicle Department stated that this Ford came from a Chicago "junkyard" in 1931. It was sold new, I found out from the Benson Library by a dealer in Elgin, Ill. So I am missing 21 years of its life. I have a photo of the T taken in Excelsior, MN is 1937 and it appears in the U of M 1937 annual in a homecoming parade shot.
I don't know names, but I have a pretty good idea of the history of the car from the guy a bought it from in Waverly IL in 1996. He owned it for a little over 30 years. He told me he bought it from another guy in Waverly who had bought it as a novelty, never drove it and decided to sell it after five years. He had bought it from a woman in Girard IL who, I was told, was the original owner and didn't drive much. As I recall what the seller said to me, it was, "Heck, that old gal probably only ever drove into town for groceries once or twice a week." I am pretty certain that the car had less than 100,000 miles on it when I bought it.
Jim, not sure if you are in the State of Washington but if you are there is an option.
They do purge the computer records as you found out, but the DOL has an archives that you can have research conducted for your car.
A good friend has a 1912 Abbott Detroit that was a Washington car and he got the DOL to do a title search and he was able to get even the original plate number and all records until the car was no longer licensed.
Like all government agencies the 1st word is no, but you can get them off their dead ass and do the job they are paid for, just be patient.
Of the dozen antique automobiles I have had, I don't think I was able to trace any of them back further than the late '50s. It really is not surprising. They spent most of their lives as little more than old junk. Many of them were considered nearly worthless before 1930. They survived the great depression, and the scrap metal drives of World War II. Most of them did not become valuable enough for anyone to track them for at least another decade after all that. Beyond that, many states kept few, or no, records that early. If some of what I have read on this forum is true, some states still don't. Records that were kept originally also were often destroyed, sometimes by design, sometimes otherwise. Many of Califunny's original records were destroyed in a warehouse fire in either 1948 or '49.
Sometimes, current owners get lucky. Terry found markings on his car that gave him a clue to its original use. From there, he was able to find a photo of his car along with several others. The friend I bought my coupe from did not know the person he had bought it from several years earlier. All he could tell me was that he had been told the car was restored sometime in the '70s and had been in the San Francisco area. Hence all the extra gears and pressurized gasoline tank.
I applaud anyone that can trace their car's history most of the way back. If you know it? Please write it up, maybe even laminate it. At least seal it into a heavy duty zip-lock bag, and keep it under the seat of the car where hopefully it will stay for a long time.
Drive carefully, and enjoy, W2
Brass car guy had your possible answer. Apparently all the state agencies "purge" files after a set number of years but the older records are moved to a Washington state digital archive. For example employment records exist in the archive going back many decades. I'm sure auto titles would exist also. As your car is a Canadian there will be only be Washington state records after the time it came in from Canada.
Is the Ford Motor Co. able and willing to search for the first dealer / buyer when given (e.g.) the engine number ?
Anyone who tried that ?
Any hints whom to contact ?
My 1908 2 cylinder Reo roadster was purchased new in 1908 by a grocer in North Dakota(have his name). He used the car to deliver groceries until 1917. Then the car went into a garage until the antique car museum in Murdo South Dakota found and purchased the car in 1956. It was on display there for many years until Don Cleveland in Nebraska bought it in 1985. I purchased it from Don in 2002.
Motor, transmission and rear axle are totally restored, but the exterior is completly original and unrestored. It even has the original North Dakota license numbers (metal) still nailed to the back of the body. I asked North Dakota DOL if they had the ability to research the license number. I found a super helpful Govt employee (surprise surprise). This woman took the project on and after several months I had the name and address of the original owner and matching the metal numbers on the car. After I had the information, I sent her a beautiful arraignment od flowers with a nice thank you note.