Anyone who is in the market for a vehicle that’s more than 31 years old has some good news: ClassicCars.com and instaVIN now make available a vehicle-history report for that classic set of wheels. The bad news is that the paperwork isn’t available for every classic vehicle that exists, and the reports that are available likely cover only the past 20 years at most.
The Collector Car Network announced its partnership with instaVIN in May 2012 and noted that their vehicle-history reports, which apply to cars, motorcycles, trucks and RVs, are the first for classic vehicles. Most companies provide reports that date only as far back as 1981, when the standard 17-digit vehicle identification number was implemented. Each report costs $6.99 and includes insurance reports, lien status and information about whether the vehicle ever has been in an accident, junked or salvaged.
But Jim Irish, who is CEO of instaVIN, concedes that most data that remain in state and federal records go back only about 20 years to the advent of computers and more sophisticated electronic record-keeping. Governments likely scrapped the physical documents from previous decades. That means that if, for example, you buy a 1957 Chevrolet Corvette, the only vehicle history that would be available to you likely would be that from 1992 to today.