Tracking down old owners?

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Fredensborg

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   I started talking about this on my Marti report thread, but I'm going to start a new one in the hopes that others can share ideas for finding old owners and/or stories of how they tracked down their cars history.....

   Which of you have had success in finding old owners of their cars and learning about the history of it? Every time I sit in my car I feel like I'm stepping into a time machine, and I wonder...how many people have owned my car, what did they use it for, did anything interesting happen to them in it, etc. etc....  1 owner or 2 owner cars are easy, but what if your car has had 5 owners? or 10?? Was it their first car? Did they buy it for their kids graduation present? did they sell because they needed a station wagon/grocery getter?? These cars aren't getting any younger, and neither are the people who would have originally purchased them.

   I know from my Marti report that my Mustang began its life at a dealership named Don Stone Ford (now under different ownership) in Bloomington Illinois, just a short drive down Route 66 from the little town my dad grew up in of all places Dwight Illinois. I called this dealership as well, and they had no info from way back in 1973....How on Earth did it find its way to Zimmerman Minnesota where it now resides with me? I'm curious...and I feel compelled to attempt to find out. I'm kind of a history dork, and stuff like this really interests me 

   So I have had my Mach 1 for about 15 years, in those 15 years I have hardly driven it at all. 15 years...that's 30 years of unaccounted for history! In the last couple of years I have started tinkering with it more in an attempt to get it back on the road, and have finally admitted defeat and taken it in to a shop to get worked on. I hope to be driving it again very soon, and in the mean time while it is at the shop, I have time to research...

   Last week after several attempts, I finally did get ahold of the guy who owned it before me...he was glad to hear I still had the car and was more than willing to tell me what he could remember about it, unfortunately it wasn't much...He thought he remembered purchasing it from a local car lot in the town I live in. I stopped by, and they didn't have records from back then (they have changed ownership), but they told me the name and approximate address of the guy who used to own the lot at the time it was sold! Sweet! Excitedly I drove to the neighborhood...pulled into the driveway of the home they described and lo and behold, there he was! Old car lot owner guy!! So we get to talking a bit and I show him a picture of the car and.... and....nothing. He didn't remember selling the car, and he says he would have remembered selling a car like that. Dead end...Damn...

    I also stopped in the local DMV (and called the main office in St. Paul), but they cant help me at all because of privacy laws.

   So, I sent the old owner a text thanking him for the help, telling him what happened, and kindly asked him to let me know if he ever remembers anything else... and frustratingly began typing out this thread.  No kidding, as I am typing this out; the old owner calls my cell phone. The rusty gears of 15 year old memory broke loose, and he now remembers that he bought the car from a guy a couple towns north of me who works at the local bank. This guy evidently bought a few old cars back then and sold the Mustang to my guy because he knew he liked old cars. So I call this bank up, tell the lady who answers my story...and...and...Yes! He does still work there and is now in fact the president of the bank. She was very helpful and she actually seemed pretty interested in my story... so she takes my name and number, and said she will pass it on to the boss man (who was not there today) and have him call me back! That's where I'm at. When I started typing this I was dejected and hopeless figuring the details of my Mustang's past were lost to history, and now I am cautiously optimistic that I will have another breakthrough that leads me further down the path of my cars infancy. Ill update this as I find more!

   How about you folks? Have you made an attempt to find out the details of your car? What did you find when you started poking around? What have you found works best for doing research? I'd love to hear any suggestions anyone may have, and would love to hear any stories of your research.

 

rackerm

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   I started talking about this on my Marti report thread, but I'm going to start a new one in the hopes that others can share ideas for finding old owners and/or stories of how they tracked down their cars history.....

   Which of you have had success in finding old owners of their cars and learning about the history of it? Every time I sit in my car I feel like I'm stepping into a time machine, and I wonder...how many people have owned my car, what did they use it for, did anything interesting happen to them in it, etc. etc....  1 owner or 2 owner cars are easy, but what if your car has had 5 owners? or 10?? Was it their first car? Did they buy it for their kids graduation present? did they sell because they needed a station wagon/grocery getter?? These cars aren't getting any younger, and neither are the people who would have originally purchased them.

   I know from my Marti report that my Mustang began its life at a dealership named Don Stone Ford (now under different ownership) in Bloomington Illinois, just a short drive down Route 66 from the little town my dad grew up in of all places Dwight Illinois. I called this dealership as well, and they had no info from way back in 1973....How on Earth did it find its way to Zimmerman Minnesota where it now resides with me? I'm curious...and I feel compelled to attempt to find out. I'm kind of a history dork, and stuff like this really interests me 

   So I have had my Mach 1 for about 15 years, in those 15 years I have hardly driven it at all. 15 years...that's 30 years of unaccounted for history! In the last couple of years I have started tinkering with it more in an attempt to get it back on the road, and have finally admitted defeat and taken it in to a shop to get worked on. I hope to be driving it again very soon, and in the mean time while it is at the shop, I have time to research...

   Last week after several attempts, I finally did get ahold of the guy who owned it before me...he was glad to hear I still had the car and was more than willing to tell me what he could remember about it, unfortunately it wasn't much...He thought he remembered purchasing it from a local car lot in the town I live in. I stopped by, and they didn't have records from back then (they have changed ownership), but they told me the name and approximate address of the guy who used to own the lot at the time it was sold! Sweet! Excitedly I drove to the neighborhood...pulled into the driveway of the home they described and lo and behold, there he was! Old car lot owner guy!! So we get to talking a bit and I show him a picture of the car and.... and....nothing. He didn't remember selling the car, and he says he would have remembered selling a car like that. Dead end...Damn...

    I also stopped in the local DMV (and called the main office in St. Paul), but they cant help me at all because of privacy laws.

   So, I sent the old owner a text thanking him for the help, telling him what happened, and kindly asked him to let me know if he ever remembers anything else... and frustratingly began typing out this thread.  No kidding, as I am typing this out; the old owner calls my cell phone. The rusty gears of 15 year old memory broke loose, and he now remembers that he bought the car from a guy a couple towns north of me who works at the local bank. This guy evidently bought a few old cars back then and sold the Mustang to my guy because he knew he liked old cars. So I call this bank up, tell the lady who answers my story...and...and...Yes! He does still work there and is now in fact the president of the bank. She was very helpful and she actually seemed pretty interested in my story... so she takes my name and number, and said she will pass it on to the boss man (who was not there today) and have him call me back! That's where I'm at. When I started typing this I was dejected and hopeless figuring the details of my Mustang's past were lost to history, and now I am cautiously optimistic that I will have another breakthrough that leads me further down the path of my cars infancy. Ill update this as I find more!

   How about you folks? Have you made an attempt to find out the details of your car? What did you find when you started poking around? What have you found works best for doing research? I'd love to hear any suggestions anyone may have, and would love to hear any stories of your research.
Fredensborg,

I have had little success in tracking down previous owners, except for the guy (now deceased) I bought it from back in 1995 and the car's very first owner. I know who the first owner was from a piece of information contained on the original invoice. Initially, my car was owned by the Ford Marketing Division and provided to a Ford employee for company business purposes (commonly called a Ford Marketing Car). I know little about the first "owner", a Ford Employee named H. Hartman, who I suspect worked at the Ford Delaware Valley PDC in Pennsauken, NJ where the car was delivered according to the invoice. Interesting it was delivered to the company's P.O. Box according to the invoice. That must have been a very big P.O. box!  I have never been able to track the Ford employee or any other owner down. 

Once while tearing the car apart restoring it, I thought I had a lead when I found an old credit card gas receipt from a few years prior to me buying the car, it had the woman's name and the town for the service station, I was able to google the woman and locate her current address. I wrote her with pictures of the car and her receipt, but she never responded, so I dropped it, not wanting to be accused of stalking.

Here is an article you might find interesting...

Researching The History of Your Mustang.pdf

 

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Mach_One

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Cool story, and sounds like you are doing a great job of tracking your car's history!  I hope it works out and you can track it all down.  Sometimes goodies can come out, such as an original owner's manual or warranty card, which would be seriously cool!!

I am mostly in the dark about my Mach 1's history.  The guy I got it from bought it at a Mecum auction and was not real helpful in tracking previous owner or missing documentation.  The original invoice has already been bought by someone else, and the Marti people were no help in helping me locate where it went.  They say they don't have records...but...their business IS SELLING RECORDS!  I don't buy it!  They just don't wanna give me a name is all.

Put my VIN number into Google, and low and behold, 100 pictures of my car come up, apparently right after it had been restored.  There it is, original invoice, warranty card, everything!!!!  Who in the **** keeps this kind of stuff and doesn't let it go with the car??  It more than ticks me off to say the least. I'm pretty well stuck, so I'd love to hear other people's stories, maybe it would help me!

 

Twins

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I've had good success in tracking things back to the first owner of my car and the one after that who had it for many years. I called both and learned some things about the vehicle although neither guy was particularly talkative. The original owners current wife spoke with me for a while and of all things...she was going through the photos from his previous marriage when I called. She was looking at several pictures of the original owner with the car from 1973. She sent me them as she was just going to throw them out. I also found a receipt for some engine work that was done about a decade ago and called a small repair shop in Alabama who was able to give me more information about the work and I later called the engine rebuild shop as well.

 

73pony

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I was able to track mine back to 2006. Called the guy who had it then. He had it for about 8 years. Said he purchased it sight unseen from California and didn't remember or have any records on it. :(

 

Fredensborg

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I've had good success in tracking things back to the first owner of my car and the one after that who had it for many years.  I called both and learned some things about the vehicle although neither guy was particularly talkative.  The original owners current wife spoke with me for a while and of all things...she was going through the photos from his previous marriage when I called.  She was looking at several pictures of the original owner with the car from 1973.  She sent me them as she was just going to throw them out.  I also found a receipt for some engine work that was done about a decade ago and called a small repair shop in Alabama who was able to give me more information about the work and I later called the engine rebuild shop as well.
That's really cool that she sent you those pics. I would love to be lucky enough to get back to owner no.1, but I'm just taking it one step at a time... When I get my car back from the shop I'm going to try to find that build sheet and give the car a thorough searching, maybe I'll get lucky and find and old clue as well. Still have your carb on it BTW, it ran with it but still having that same issue.... hoping the shop will be able to figure it out for me.

 

Twins

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I've had good success in tracking things back to the first owner of my car and the one after that who had it for many years.  I called both and learned some things about the vehicle although neither guy was particularly talkative.  The original owners current wife spoke with me for a while and of all things...she was going through the photos from his previous marriage when I called.  She was looking at several pictures of the original owner with the car from 1973.  She sent me them as she was just going to throw them out.  I also found a receipt for some engine work that was done about a decade ago and called a small repair shop in Alabama who was able to give me more information about the work and I later called the engine rebuild shop as well.
That's really cool that she sent you those pics. I would love to be lucky enough to get back to owner no.1, but I'm just taking it one step at a time... When I get my car back from the shop I'm going to try to find that build sheet and give the car a thorough searching, maybe I'll get lucky and find and old clue as well. Still have your carb on it BTW, it ran with it but still having that same issue.... hoping the shop will be able to figure it out for me.

I thought that was you with the carb!  Hopefully, they get it squared away and you get that baby on the road.  As far as finding out data...all it takes is one clue and you pull on that thread until you get the next one.  Obviously, in the age of the internet this has become easier than before.  If all else fails you might want to put a picture of the car and some info on something like Facebook and see if anyone knows anything. 
 
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Good luck as you continue to search the history of your car. I too get intrigued about who had my cars before me and what path they took to get here.

As for my Boss, I researched it many years ago. I had access to some folks at the DMV and used them to help me. Unfortunately I can't locate the info but I remember some of it. When my Boss was new it sat on the dealer's lot for a few months before it sold. Apparently a local farmer bought it for his son who was young and pretty hard on the car. Here is how it was explained to me - the car went through 3 rear end replacements under warranty. When the dealer told the owners it was the 'last time" they would replace the rear end under warranty, the dad traded it in on a new 1972 Cougar XR7. After that the car went through a few owners and somewhere along the line the original engine was separated from the car. When I got the car in about 1980, it had a strong motor but not numbers matching block. Heck back then it really wasn't a big consideration. Anyway after the internet got strong - about 1995 or so - I began searching the different 'RINGS' and forums and blogs and whatever for the VIN. And in about 2007 I FINALLY found something! Here is the text from the post:

"1F02R173943 , 1F02R218315 , I have these blocks , need 1F184119 Block

I guess i will start the ball rolling . I have the following BOSS 351 engine blocks, ... I Also have 1F173943 i have the marti report on this car its a , white boss 351 that was out of the dallas ordering district. I bought this block off ebay a couple years ago, the guy i got it from said his father in law ? bought the block in New Braunfels Texas i think he said in 1976"

He wanted to hold onto my block because it was very close to his own Boss 351's VIN. After some considerable time, I convinced him the block needed to be reunited with the car it came in. So now I have it! It needs some work but I have it with the car. How the block was separated in 1976 (or earlier) is unknown. Also - why and when did block go from Oklahoma to New Braunfels, TX (near San Antonio)? BTW the guy I bought it from lived in the virtually desolate middle of Nebraska!!!!!! Crazy! And yes I saw where I missed it being listed and sold on Ebay!!!!!! UGH. :)

There is more info but that is a good part of my car's history.

Ray

 
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I have a complete history on my car from the day it was bought and have been in contact with all but one owner since about 2001.

Most of the information I have came from the second owner and a friend to the first owner who unfortunately passed away in 2009.

It's a very cool story. When I found this car, it was advertised on Hemmings website, so I emailed the seller. To my surprise, he emailed back to say the car was still for sale, but unfortunately did not confirm the asking price as I had asked. When I went back to the Hemmings site the next day, the ad was gone. It had actually timed out so I was unable to get a copy of the ad that reflected a low asking price which would come back to bite me. Not going into that little detail right now though!

I actually flew out to LA to see the car first hand and was pleasantly surprised to find the car exactly as described. After buying the car and spending a weekend with "Tony", we are still in contact today. He was the 5th owner.

After shipping the car back to Canada, I got interested in the history, why I'm not sure, but I contacted the California DMV. After submitting the forms and paying the fee, I received a list of all owners names but no addresses. "Tony" was able to give me some details about who he bought it from and after a bit of searching, I came up with his email and eventually got more info. He was able to tell me that when he bought the car in or about 2003, it was untouched and totally original body wise and numbers matching. This owner did do some work on it with a new paint job in the original Light Pewter as well as new seat covers, magnum 500's and a stripe kit. Apart from that not much else was touched. The first pic is how I first saw it in LA.

On the list I received, the first name was that of a lady, the original owner. Now, this car was not your typical Lady driver car being a 351C 4V, 4 speed, no power steering, no power brakes and drums all around. A true muscle car! Not long after contacting the 4th owner and sharing the DMV list, he emailed to say he had seen an obituary for a lady of the same name. Could she have been the original owner? I respectfully sent an email to a contact named in the obituary and eventually received an email from the friend, the second owner. I'll not going into every detail, but in short, the car was a graduation present and she owned it for about 30 years before selling it. Number 2 had it for about 2 years, then sold it to a friend, #3 who only had the car for about 6 months and was the one I could not contact. So, if you followed all of that, I'm the 6th owner and had the car for almost 10 years.

Here are 2 pictures, as I bought it and as it is today, not a lot of difference looking at it but a lot of cash invested since. I too have the original license plates and plate holders from the selling dealership in Santa Rosa CA.

 
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mpbsr

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I'm the 4th owner and have tons of doc's going back to the original owner. I even have a copy of the original license plate from California

I've also been in contact with the 2nd owner (Minn) who had her from 1987 - 1998 and he did send me pics of when the stang was restored in 1990. 3rd owner was from Kentucky.

So being the 4th owner, Christine has made it from California to New Jersey.

 

Fredensborg

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This is awesome, loving all these sweet stories of different owners histories! Keep em comin!!

 

L.C.Gray

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Not much to trace for me.

Second owner of my 73 and have a mound of documentation from the original build order owners manuals and warranty plate through annual inspections, shop receipts, registration receipts, tire and battery warranty cards and even some of the old license plates. Even have the bank folder from when the original financing was done.

 

Fredensborg

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Well I got a call from the banker guy who sold my car to the guy I bought it from. Turns out he bought it from a guy about 20 miles south of me who evidently used to go down south and buy old cars, bring them up here to the rust belt and sell them....The banker thought my car came out of Arizona or possibly California. The story gets more interesting everyday. Unfortunately the guy he bought it from died a couple of years ago, but his brother did this stuff with him and he is still around...so now I will have to track down this next piece of the puzzle and see where it goes. Kind of aggravating, while talking to the banker guy he told me this guys name... Bill Stewart... a few years ago I entered my vin into google and got a hit that showed my car, I sent an email to the name of the website but never got a reply. Tonight I checked my old sent emails from back then...the email I sent was to a “[email protected]” to think how close the was then and I didn’t even know it!!

 

rackerm

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Modified 1970 Mach 1 M-Code with a 351C 4v Manual

Well I got a call from the banker guy who sold my car to the guy I bought it from. Turns out he bought it from a guy about 20 miles south of me who evidently used to go down south and buy old cars, bring them up here to the rust belt and sell them....The banker thought my car came out of Arizona or possibly California. The story gets more interesting everyday. Unfortunately the guy he bought it from died a couple of years ago, but his brother did this stuff with him and he is still around...so now I will have to track down this next piece of the puzzle and see where it goes. Kind of aggravating, while talking to the banker guy he told me this guys name... Bill Stewart... a few years ago I entered my vin into google and got a hit that showed my car, I sent an email to the name of the website but never got a reply.  Tonight I checked my old sent emails from back then...the email I sent was to a “[email protected]” to think how close the was then and I didn’t even know it!!
That's fantastic! You are getting closer. Keep us posted with your progress. I love to hear more.

 

Tucaz520

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Im very fortunate in this topic.

My dad purchased the car in 1976 that would have put me at 2 years old lol. It was a california car and my my dad also aquired a 1965 Impala SS and a caifornia special. Obviously i dont remember anything from 2 years old but i do have some early childhood memories. The moat vivid memory i have is siting in the back seat whike my dad was driving and i tell him i dont feel good. 10 seconds later its a barf fest all over the back seat. Fast forward to me being age 7 and dad receiving orders to Germany (Army). Up for sale goes the impala and california special. No idea why but the 73 Mach1 was his car of choice. We loaded up and drove cross country to ohio where a family member agreed to store the car for the 3 years we were in germany. We return from germany and cross country in the mach1 back to arizona this time. One other long trip in the car was from arizona to disney land where we were treated to a dead battery when we left the park. Fast forward a few years and dad has a new wife and orders to germany again. This time someone in Arizona agreed to store the car for him. Return from germany and 2nd wife soon gets replaced with 3rd wife. Dad used the car as a commuter from sierra vista az to douglas az daily. Every day driving up and through the bisbee pass. He moves to tucson az and the car breaks down on him. By now hes loosing intrest in the car and its parked. He assumes the worst and thinks it slipped timing. Well wife 3 ran her course and here come wife four. Only my dad has no place to store a broke down car at the new place. Wife 3 calls me and says shes gonna have the car towed and crushed if its not out of her garage in 3 days . I called my dad told him to get the title ready and id be there in 10 hours. I lived in california at the time. I show up with a dolly and was told the garage door is broken. I ageeed to look at it. I was able to get it open and the car saved. My dad regrettably handed over the title and said this wasnt the way he planned it. I towed the car home and got to work on it the very next day. 15 min of trouble shooting and i deternined it was just a bad fuel pump. I called my dad once i replaced it and let him hear i run. I think i heard a little regret in his voice. I played with the car here and there but mostly left it parked. I then moved to the east coast and dollied the car all the way. Once in NC it pretty much sat some more. I moved on to TX and it was untouched for 4 years. I am now retired from the Marine Corps and steadily getting the ole girl up to par to be my running around car.

I guess the only history im missing from the car is who owned it from new to 1976. I had the invoice from 1976 but its been lost in all the moving around. Pretty much every ding and scratch on the car can recall howbit happened.

 

Fredensborg

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I stopped out at the home of the guy who brought my car to Minnesota, there was no answer at the door so I stopped at the neighbors house to make sure I was at the right place. Turns out I was...Unfortunately, as I mentioned in a previous post, the guy passed away a couple years ago. The neighbor lady said his wife still lives there but isn't in the best of health, but the brother comes buy every now and again to check up on her. So I left my contact info with the neighbor lady, and I'm just hoping he will call.

It's been a couple weeks since I stopped out there and I haven't had any calls yet. I typed up a letter tonight explaining my situation a little better, and attached a couple pictures for good measure. I'm sure just getting a message from the neighbor lady to call some stranger about a car your brother sold 20 years ago seems weird! :) I think I'll make one more attempt to get ahold of this guy. Hopefully he can point me in the right direction...

 

rackerm

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Modified 1970 Mach 1 M-Code with a 351C 4v Manual

A year ago I tried to connect with a woman who's gas receipt from 1987 I found in the car when tearing it down. I had the woman's name and the town for the service station from the receipt and was able to google the woman and locate her current address. It's scary how much info you can find on the internet. I wrote to her with pictures of the car and her receipt, but she never responded, so I dropped it, not wanting to be accused of stalking.

A few weeks ago I decide to give it another try and reach out to the woman who's gas receipt from 1987 I found. This time in Facebook. I have a picture of my car as my home page on Facebook. So I sent her a friend request and low and behold she accepted and comment that the car looks just as she remembered it 30 years ago. I was very excited that I had got her to respond and have attempted to get her to tell me more about the car from back then, but she has not responded since...so I have hit another dead end.

In New Jersey the title has the number representing the number of owners. It is located right before the VIN. I am guessing this number is only accurate if your car has always been titled in the state of New Jersey, which I know is the case with my car. So according the NJ title I had for the car before moving to Delaware, I am owner number seven. So I know a little about four of the seven owners. I know who the first owner was.... Ford Marketing, I know the the guy I bought it from (the sixth owner) and then me, number seven. I also know the name of the woman who owned the car somewhere in between. I just wish she would just respond and tell me a little bit more about the car from 30 years ago.

 
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NOT A T5

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You would think it is even harder if your car was shipped overseas! In my case, she was born in Dearborn, MI and sold to a dealer named Wantaugh Auto Sales on Long Island, NY.

I have no clue about the first owner or any owners in the U.S. until she was imported to Great Britain, owner's name there was Paul Higgins, 19 Woodlands Drive, Thelwall, Warrington, License Plate (TJD 53 M). Perhaps member "Pegleg" could find out more about that, LOL. That was before 1980 of course.

 Then in 1980 she was imported to Germany, owner Ryoji Matsui living near Munich. After him, there were 3 other owners in Germany and then I got her in 1987. I know this much because a German title lists all previous owners until the title reached full capacity (no more spaces left to type in info). There's room for up to six owners then a new title would be issued for a 7th owner. In that case all previous owners info would have been erased. Of course I would love to find out who the first owner was in the U.S. and all other owners before she shipped to Great Britain. 1F140793

 

Fredensborg

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Reaction score
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Location
Zimmerman, MN
My Car
1973 Q-code Mach 1
A year ago I tried to connect with a woman who's gas receipt from 1987 I  found in the car when tearing it down. I had the woman's name and the town for the service station from the receipt and was able to google the woman and locate her current address. It's scary how much info you can find on the internet. I wrote to her with pictures of the car and her receipt, but she never responded, so I dropped it, not wanting to be accused of stalking.

A few weeks ago I decide to give it another try and reach out to the woman who's gas receipt from 1987 I found. This time in Facebook. I have a picture of my car as my home page on Facebook. So I sent her a friend request and low and behold she accepted and comment that the car looks just as she remembered it 30 years ago. I was very excited that I had got her to respond and have attempted to get her to tell me more about the car from back then, but she has not responded since...so I have hit another dead end.

In New Jersey the title has the number representing the number of owners. It is located right before the VIN. I am guessing this number is only accurate if your car has always been titled in the state of  New Jersey, which I know is the case with my car. So according the NJ title I had for the car before moving to Delaware, I am owner number seven. So I know a little about four of the seven owners. I know who the first owner was.... Ford Marketing, I know the the guy I bought it from (the sixth owner) and then me, number seven. I also know the name of the woman who owned the car somewhere in between. I just wish she would just respond and tell me a little bit more about the car from 30 years ago.
Keep it up! She's bound to loosen up a bit eventually! If you have kids, send a picture of your kids sitting in the car...children have a way of de-thawing peoples personalities and making them remember things from their own childhood. Don't have kids? Borrow some nieces and nephews!! ::) hope she spills the beans for you soon!

 

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