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The Search for Old Friends – Owners Look for the Cars that Got Away

Parting is Such Sweet Sorrow

Saying farewell to a vehicle that you wanted to restore but didn’t is tough. Whatever the reason - not enough time, money or motivation – you still hate to part with a car that you may have come to love. Admit it; you still look for your old car or former “muffler mate” when you go to car shows. Frantic questions fill your head. Was it stripped down for parts? Was it stuck in a barn and is rusting away? Is Lindsey Lohan driving it into a tree? You have to know! But where do you begin?

How To Find My Old Car? Steps For A Classic Car Vin Check & More!

We’ve Got Your Number

How to find your old car? Start with your former VIN number (Vehicle Identification Number). VIN numbers were standardized in 1981 to be a series of 17 characters (numbers and letters) and most databases use it as a search parameter. If you have this number, you have a good shot at finding your former car. You can use it to search vehicle history websites like the Lost Car Registry or Check My Ride. These are free services that help reunite owners with their former four wheeled loves. Just keep in mind that some VIN numbers prior to 1981 may not have 17 characters and therefore may not come up in your searches.

How To Find My Old Car? Steps For A Classic Car Vin Check & More!

Dig Deeper for that VIN

If you do not have the VIN number from your old car, first go back and check your old files. VIN numbers are often listed on insurance policies, accident reports and repair invoices. Because going to the DMV to find a missing VIN number is tougher than you think. Since 1994, the DMV is prohibited from releasing a driver’s personal information to unauthorized individuals by the Driver’s Privacy Protection Act (DPPA). This is in response to several well known stalker cases where the criminals obtained the home addresses of their victims through DMV records. Other than hiring a private investigator (who can still legally request VIN numbers), you are nearly out of luck at the DMV. So keep digging through those old files!

How To Find My Old Car? Steps For A Classic Car Vin Check & More!

Search Engines are our Friends

Get in the habit of entering your former VIN number into as many search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo as you can. The new owner may be in the process of listing the car for sale or the car may be part of an auction. Checking the archives of some of the larger auction houses might bear fruit, too. Cars being auctioned will have all of the vehicle history available for potential buyers.

How To Find My Old Car? Steps For A Classic Car Vin Check & More!

Big Shout Out … Find My Car!

Social media will likely play a big role in getting your message out there. It seems most everyone on Facebook or Twitter loves a good love story, so get ready to plead your case to the masses. Creating a short-and-sweet ad posting will allow you to get all of the information out there. It will also make it easier for your friends and family to share the information with others around the world. Here are a few things to keep in mind when creating the ad:
  • Grab their attention - Have a catchy headline or title to draw readers to the ad.
  • Just the facts - Include the make/ model/ year of the car you are looking for as well as the VIN. Skip the lengthy description of how it shines in the moonlight.
  • Give a description - List the color of the car inside and out. Avoid using factory paint color names, which can be misleading. For example, Carousel Red is an orange red. To the untrained eye, it is an orange car.
  • What’s under the hood - List the type of engine, drivetrain, transmission and rear end.
  • What makes it special? - Talk about the options on the car that might help a person recall seeing the car, like factory racing stripes or a vinyl top.
  • State your story - Include the years you owned the car and the area where you lived at that time. Briefly explain why you want to find the car.
  • Test your memory - Include any information you might remember about the person who bought the car. For example, was the buyer from out of state or did they mention what they did for a living?
  • Contact me please! - Don’t forget to include the contact information you want provide for someone to reach out and reunite you with your beloved car. Just to be safe, avoid using your street address; consider creating a special email address just for this purpose.

How To Find My Old Car? Steps For A Classic Car Vin Check & More!

Car Lovers Help Car Lovers

Above all, keep the faith. It may take time to find some leads so don’t give up. There are a lot of car lovers out there who know what you are going through and are willing to help you out. Remember, with a little persistence and a lot of patience, you will one day see your long lost friend again. Just like in “Lassie Comes Home”! Tissue please!

Collector and Classic Car Insurance for Less

While you are searching for your long lost friend, don’t forget to make sure your current classic car is taken care of. Let our friendly staff at Classic Auto Insurance help you find the right policy for your needs. Visit our website at and see how we can help safeguard your dream classic car.
Posted: 5/14/2015 9:00:00 AM with 2 comments

Nancy Lucerne
I am looking for the history of 1954 250 Europa GT, 0379 Ferrari. My Dad owned the car from 1962 to Sept 1989 when he died. I appreciate your help. Thank you.
3/3/2018 5:07:25 AM
I have a 1974 j20 jeep truck and have searched everywhere and cant find any history with VIN.
the VIN is legit but doesn't come up in any database anywhere
8/18/2017 3:29:16 PM
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