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HomeGarageClassic Car History Information: What You Need to Know - Part II

Classic Car History Information: What You Need to Know – Part II

VINData can help you find the history of your car

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This is the second of three articles on vehicle history and other information for classic vehicles. This article explores what specific information is available in a report for a classic vehicle. The first article covered differences and similarities in VINs and title data for modern and classic vehicles. The last article will cover why to get a report when buying or selling a classic vehicle.

Since it is now possible to obtain history information about pre-1981 “classic” vehicles from trusted sources such as VINData, this article will cover the types of data in these reports today.

First Up: Vehicle Title Information Definition and Availability

Vehicle titles are not the same as vehicle registrations. The DMV title is the document that establishes ownership and other legal details like the date of title, title “brand” status, lienholder, and the odometer reading. On the other hand, registering the vehicle allows the title holder to get license plates and are renewed ever year or two. Each state has different rules that govern how it issues both titles and registrations.

Last time we covered when DMV title information is available for classic vehicles, see the first article for more information:

What Title Data is in a Vehicle History Report?

A VINData vehicle history report for classic vehicles shows the following information:

  • Dates the DMV has reported that a title was issued
  • The states the title was issued in. Currently every state but Hawaii is participating in NMVTIS
  • Type of title, whether current or historical
  • Any odometer readings. Many states have a rule that they don’t require the odometer reading to be recorded when the vehicle is 10 years old or older. In those cases, you’ll see the odometer reading reported as “exempt” or “unknown”.
  • Any title “brands” issued for the vehicle

What Title Data is NOT in a Vehicle History Report?

Vehicle history reports that use DMV sourced data are governed by the DPPA – Drivers Privacy Protection Act. Therefore, no vehicle history report that contains DMV data is allowed by federal law to disclose owner name and address. Often, people call us looking for a car that their parents owned, or their own cars. The name and address information is simply not available in the VINData or any VIN check report with DMV data.

Typical Classic Vehicle Title Brands

There are more than 70 title “brands” (think of a cattle brand) reported by NMVTIS. Older vehicles do get title brands issued – here are some common examples of brands we see on classic vehicles:

  • Not Actual Mileage or Exceeds Mechanical Limits – while these brands are slightly different, they mean that the vehicle has either possibly been rolled back, or the 5-digit older odometer has possibly rolled over an unknown number of times. Flagged as red (warning) in our reports.
  • Salvage – The vehicle has been reported as having been wrecked, destroyed or damaged to the extent that the estimated or actual cost of parts and labor to rebuild the vehicle to its pre-accident condition and for legal operation on roads or highways exceeds a jurisdiction-defined percentage of the retail value of the vehicle. Sometimes you will see a salvage title followed by a rebuilt title. Either or both are flagged as red (warning) in our reports.
  • Junk – The vehicle has been reported by state DMV as being incapable of safe operation for use on the roads or highways and has no resale value except as a source of parts or scrap, or the vehicle’s owner has irreversibly designated the vehicle as a source of parts or scrap. This vehicle shall never be titled or registered. Also known as non-repairable, scrapped, or destroyed. All are flagged as red (warning) in our reports.
  • Classic or Antique – The vehicle has been reported by State DMV as being more than 20 (classic) or 50 (antique) years old. Flagged as green (no problem) in our reports.

Example Title Records

Example 1 – Junk Brand

This is a report for a 1971 Ford Mustang that shows the vehicle was titled in OH first in 1994, then subsequently in OH and in FL. The most recent title also shows a junk brand, and the vehicle is flagged red.

Image courtesy of VINData
Image courtesy of VINData

Example 2 – Single Title Record

This is an example of a 1968 Ford Mustang that has a single title record issued in 2012 – the report is otherwise “clean”. This is fairly common.

Image courtesy of VINData
Image courtesy of VINData

Example 3 – Multiple States

This is an example of a 1956 Chevrolet Two-Ten. Note that the vehicle has been reported to have been in 4 different states, including NE when it was titled in 1979.

Image courtesy of VINData
Image courtesy of VINData

Example 4 – Original Title

This is an example for a 1975 Chevrolet Corvette that shows an original title date being reported by PA.

vehicle history report, Classic Car History Information: What You Need to Know – Part II, ClassicCars.com Journal
Image courtesy of VINData

Example 5 – Exceeds Mechanical Limits brand

This is an example of a 1968 Chevrolet Camaro 6 that shows an Exceeds Mechanical Limits brand, meaning that the number of times the 5-digit vehicle odometer has rolled over is unknown.

Image courtesy of VINData
Image courtesy of VINData

Other Information Available

Junk/Salvage/Insurance Loss

VINData reports also show NMVTIS sourced information from junkyards, salvage auctions and insurance companies – here is an example of a 1971 Ford Mustang that has been seen at a salvage auction.

Image courtesy of VINData
Image courtesy of VINData

Vehicle Specifications

Vehicle specifications are available for certain US made vehicles between 1956 and 1975. VIN decoding these older vehicles is more of an art than a science as VIN patterns were not always 100% reliable. Here is an example decode of a 1975 Chevrolet Corvette.

vehicle history report, Classic Car History Information: What You Need to Know – Part II, ClassicCars.com Journal
Image courtesy of VINData

Issued Recalls

As most people know, NHTSA (National Highway Transportation Safety Administration) issues recalls for over the road vehicles. Most people don’t know that NHTSA is still issuing recalls for classic vehicles. Here is an example of a recall issued in 2019 for a 1968 Ford Mustang (recall on the right). In this case, the owner is encouraged to contact their local Ford dealer. Issued recalls are flagged as yellow.

Image courtesy of VINData
Image courtesy of VINData

Vehicle For Sale Information

VINData also has information that shows the vehicle has been made available for sale on eBay Motors or other websites. This data is informational and is flagged green. Here is an example of a 1968 Chevrolet Camaro.

Image courtesy of VINData
Image courtesy of VINData

Vehicle Export

Sometimes classic vehicles are reported to have been exported from the US. Here is an example of a 1968 Ford Mustang that was reported as exported in 2016. If you come across a report for a vehicle with an export event, ensure that the vehicle has been retitled in the US after the export date, or that the VIN is accurate.

Image courtesy of VINData
Image courtesy of VINData

Other Information

VINData will report when a vehicle has been reported as an active/recovered theft vehicle, or an open (unpaid) lien or loan. VINData does report some damage event information separate from the NMVTIS junk/salvage/loss data. We always recommend a vehicle inspection.

More to Come

VINData is actively adding more data to its reports for classic vehicles – stay tuned for more information!

“When shopping or selling a classic or modern car or truck, or you just want to learn more about the ride you have today, get a history report from VINData, with official NMVTIS title and other data.

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