Researching the history of your car

Following the recent purchase of my RS2000 I often wondered about the history of this car. Obviously the car was close to 30 years old and had been well cared for over many years. Where had the car previously lived? Who owned it, and for how long? Was it originally sold in Sydney? Were these people still around?

The following document assumes that most people have purchased their car from a previous owner.

The document provides a guideline on how to approach Ford Motor Company in Australia and also the Roads and Traffic Authority (NSW Australia) to ask for documentation about the previous owner’s of your car.

Hopefully will be of some interest and use!

Ford marketed these cars to the younger generation in the very late 1970’s, so we assumed that the early owners would now be in their early to mid forties. Soon it occurred to me that since these cars were always built as enthusiast cars maybe the past owners would also be interested knowing that their old car was still surviving very well. They may also have memories and photos that they would happily share.

Approaching Ford Motor Company, Melbourne Australia.

The first port of call was Ford Motor Company in Melbourne, Australia. Being the manufacturer of the vehicle permanent records should still be on file and be available. On phoning FoMoCo Customer Relations I was pleasantly surprised how interested and helpful they were. Within two working days Ford promptly phoned me with details they had found about the car in their “Old Vehicle Report”. I requested a letter of confirmation be posted to me. A week later a Letter of Verification arrived complete on official FoMoCo letterhead. The letter was provided absolutely free of any costs or charges. I have added the letter to our permanent documentation for the car.

What you will need:

1. A letter of request. (see sample letter below, best in your own words though!)
2. Proof of your identity. (ie photocopy of your drivers licence etc)
3. Proof of ownership of the vehicle (ie photocopy of recent registration papers or proof of purchase)
4. Fax or post your letter to Ford.

Sample Letter to Ford Motor Company.

Date.

To: Ford Motor Company Australia.
Ford Customer Relation Centre.
Private Mail Bag 5
Campbellfield, Victoria 3061.
Ph: 131-673.
Fax: (03) 9929-3175.

From: Your Name
Your Address
Your Phone Number (Bus Hours).

Hello To Ford Customer Relations,

Could I please request a Letter of Verification for the following Ford vehicle.

I am the owner of the mentioned vehicle. The vehicle is quickly becoming a valuable collectors item. I wish to build up all possible documentation for permanent record for private keepsake purposes.

I have as attachment provided proof of ownership and also my personal identification.

Please feel free to phone me should you have any questions.

Details as from Compliance Plate fitted to the vehicle:
Ford Escort RS2000.
Prefix Body: (your vehicle’s numbers)
Serial: (your vehicle’s numbers)
SIDO: (your vehicle’s numbers)
Model: (your vehicle’s numbers)
Build Date: (your vehicle’s numbers) Really this will be the original retail date.
Factory Options: (let Ford provide this info)
Original Selling Dealer: (let Ford provide this info)

Yours Sincerely

(your signature)

(your name printed).

Approaching the Roads and Traffic Authority NSW Australia. (other Australian states will have their own state roads department).

The second port of call was a long shot, however worked out very well.

Since we now had Ford’s proof of manufacture we wondered about past owners and where the car had lived. In the socialist state of Australia the authorities had long ago invented crappy laws limiting freedom of information. They call it “Freedom of Information”, however the more intelligent of us will identify this as double speak which actually limits even to professionals the amount of information made available, especially by protectionist government departments.

Since I live in NSW I posted a letter to the Roads and Traffic Authority NSW (RTA). I requested the information be supplied to myself in writing as specified under S17 of the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act.

I requested:

1. The exact date (day) and original registration number of the car
2. Names and addresses of all past owners of this particular vehicle.
3. As with the letter to Ford I provided proof of my identity and proof of ownership of the vehicle.

The first point I thought would be responded to (if I was lucky), however I thought that the second point would be blatantly refused by the government department.

Several days later I received a phone call from the RTA Records Access Unit in Sydney from a very friendly woman requesting more info from me and to generally suss me out.
She informed me that any info older than 25 years from current date had automatically fallen off the edge and permanently lost from their database. So the original rego number and the exact day of first registration was not available from the RTA. She suggested alternative routes to find this info.

The second part of my request was in fact easier for her to research and was considered doable if we followed the correct procedure. I followed up with a slightly more detailed letter of request than my first letter together with a small fee which set the wheels in motion. On receipt of this letter (and payment) the RTA would research and send letters by express post to all past owners at their current addresses. The request was the permission for the RTA to pass on their names and addresses to me as the current owner of their old car. I received several phone calls from the RTA all being very positive and very helpful and keeping me continually updated. Soon after we received a list of names of each past owner, their current address, registration numbers of the car for the past 25 years, and also purchase and sale dates. As a result of this documentation we have been able to establish when the car was registered, unregistered, in storage etc. Past owners have also phoned me and also visited the car to see it in current condition. One past owner was so excited to receive the RTA letter he immediately phoned the RTA asking for my details so that he could phone me straight away! So a very positive experience for all.

What you will need:

1. A letter of request. (see sample letter below, best in your own words though!)
2. Proof of your identity. (ie photocopy of your drivers licence etc)
3. Proof of ownership of the vehicle (ie photocopy of recent registration papers or proof of purchase)
4. Post letter to the RTA (NSW) or equivalent in your state.

Sample Letter to the Roads and Traffic Authority NSW Australia.

Roads and Traffic Authority NSW
Records Access Unit
PO Box K198
Haymarket NSW 1240

From: Your Name,
Your Address,
Your Phone Number (Bus Hours).

Hello To The RTA,

I have recently purchased the vehicle as identified below. The car is quickly becoming a collectors vehicle and I am interested in learning as much about the history as possible.

Strictly for personal keepsake records could I please ask for the following information:
1. Exact date of first registration
2. First registration plate number
3. Names and current addresses of all past owners.

I request this information to be supplied to myself in writing to the above address as specified under S17 of the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act.

As the current owner of this vehicle, I request the information be supplied on the basis that it is strictly for my personal and private use only. Any information supplied will be kept as private keepsake material with the vehicle’s permanent history records in our possession.

Details as from Compliance Plate fitted to the vehicle:
Ford Escort RS2000.
Prefix Body: (your vehicle’s numbers)
Serial: (your vehicle’s numbers)
SIDO: (your vehicle’s numbers)
Model: (your vehicle’s numbers)
Build Date: (your vehicle’s numbers) Really this will be the original retail date.

Please feel free to contact me if I can be of any assistance to you.

Yours Sincerely

(your signature)

(your name printed).

For those interested in researching the history of your car the information will be of significance.

We have also found interesting magazine articles for our exact car by Googling and also on Ebay.

As an enthusiast’s car, most, if not all people will easily remember their old car and will have positive responses to requests for information.

It is wonderful to find and receive photos and copies of magazines 15 to 20 years old with your exact car featuring in it finding some guys’ name in the article, finding his phone number in the white pages and calling him and saying “Hi, in 1990 did you once own……, well we have recently purchased your old car…”.

But best of all the enthusiasts that once owned your car often are still enthusiasts; and often become friends.

Remember, unless your car has had only a few (still living and contactable) owners and easily traceable then the history will be found from various sources and have to be pieced together.

Have fun!

RSOC (Aust.)