You could drive a car brand new off the factory floor and it would have a history already. The parts, the hands that built them, the models that have gone before it – all features in a legacy of craftsmanship and design. Once it’s out of the factory, it begins a new chapter – and some classic’s stories are a lot longer than others.
On a basic level, a full service history indicates that a car has been maintained at every appropriate milestone since being built. To some buyers this should also mean that the maintenance being done by the original manufacturer or at an approved service centre.
A full service history can have some material benefits to your vehicle; Parkers estimate that having a reliable and complete service history can add up to 10% to your car’s value. The RAC go even further, saying that a car without a full service history could be worth 20% less. You’re more likely to be able to sell your vehicle if the buyer has peace of mind that proper maintenance and repairs have been carried out.
More than maintenance
With classic cars, full service histories often come accompanied by a whole gamut of extra information from years of careful curation of the vehicle’s history: who owned it, where it was driven, competitions it won, even rallies it raced.
This information tends to have value of a different sort – it’s not necessarily technical, or a necessity when it comes to sale or checking service records, but it makes up a crucial part of the car’s history and tends to be of significance to owner and potential buyers alike.
If you’re thinking about selling your classic, it’s worth considering putting together the additional memorabilia you may have for it in a neatly-presented way, and looking up extra information for any gaps you might find in its records.
When you buy a classic, it’s possible that not all the service history will be present. Previous owners’ lack of record-keeping or periods of disrepair may mean documents are missing, but it’s not impossible to locate further information if you need it.
- Most cars have a VIN (vehicle identification number) stamped onto the chassis of the car, and on the vehicle’s V5. This identifies the vehicle and allows you to ask the manufacturer for more information if you need it – if the manufacturer still exists. VINs were introduced is the USA in 1954 so some older vehicles will not have them, but there should be identifying information on the manufacturer’s certificate.
- If you can find out where the car was serviced, most garages now have digital records and may be able to supply missing information (within the limits of GDPR – they can’t hand out previous’ owners’ details).
- You can check MOT data on the DVLA website