Do you seek provenance with your cars?

I’m wondering how many others here ever attempt to trace the history of their cars beyond obtaining a heritage certificate? I’d be interested in hearing your stories.

I’ll start with mine by way of example. I purchased 670236 (early '50 XK120 OTS) in February of '20 from BHHC as a temporary substitute for my other '120 whose resurrection was moving along at a multiple-years long glacial pace. You know how it goes: fix one thing and find three others screaming for attention too. Anyway, the new-to-me car came with a Wisconsin plate and an owners manual with his name, address and the year 1974 written inside. I googled the name and address and found it to be that of a Sheboygan, Wisconsin dentist who had died the year before my purchase of it. His online obituary stated he was survived by his wife still in the same house they had since '73. So, I made a mental note to write to her at some point asking if she had any stories or pictures to share of it. During a subsequent phone call to my mother, I mentioned I’d be writing to this woman. My mother’s response surprised me with her saying not to as it could bring up bad memories, wanting to move on, etc. I hadn’t considered that, but it gave me pause for a long time. Also, I wasn’t sure how to write a letter like this – me being a stranger to the former owners and all. Then, this last weekend, I finally reached a point with this car where it could now be reliably driven and with that, the letter I had been mentally composing in head wrote itself from to start to finish in a flash. I typed it out, signed my name to it, then, when going online to again confirm the address, the internet now showed a link to the passing of the dentist’s wife four months prior. Damn. I sent the letter anyway with an addendum expressing my condolences. I’m thinking a family member may still be picking up mail since the address isn’t up for sale at this time yet. But I’m not expecting a reply at this point. If there’s a lesson learned here, it would be that at least with long term ownership cars, write that letter seeking its history asap since life is short and you don’t know how much longer the former owners will be around to relate a first person narrative. I had so many bottled-up questions about it such as why certain repairs were done a certain way, what it was like to drive up the Lake Michigan shoreline on a Fall day, if the wife ever got to drive it, etc. that will be hard to answer now, if at all.

Anyway, do others here have stories to share beyond the writing of a check and the handover of old paperwork?

Chris jag2.jpeg|430px;x573px;

I have a similar story with the same result. I know the identity of the original purchaser of my XK 140 OTS from the Heritage Certificate. I long ago Googled his name, found some background information on him and his obituary. More recently, I Googled the name again and found that his son was a junior and the car could have been purchased by him as a young man, or he likely would have driven it. I found an address for him, composed a letter and sent it. It was returned as undeliverable. He would be in his late 80s now so is likely gone as well. If you do the math, 70 year old cars likely will have 90 year-old owners, if they are still with us. Unfortunately, the states I know about do not give out ownership information for privacy reasons. One more reason why well documented service and ownership information is invaluable.


The heritage documents of my car fortunately also revealed the name of its first owner! But that was 1954!!! It turned out to be a doctor in Nebraska. Using his surname and the city, I found some similar names and one of them was also on Linked-in. I used that opportunity and I was in luck as it turned out to be the grandson of the first owner. He immediately brought me in contact with his father and we’re in contact since. He was able to confirm that the first owner was his father indeed and sent me some pictures of the car. These pics also showed some “additions” he made like an extra rear bumper bar that protected the rear of the car (still available from Welsh).


Since then I found a lot of information about the doctor, who also was an officer with rank of Captain in the U.S. Army Medical Corp during WWII, commissioned to the 101st Airborne Division.
This is the same division that during Operation Market Garden liberated the South of the Netherlands, in an attempt to take the bridge across the river Rhine near Arnhem (some may remember the movie: “A bridge too far”?)
During this operation, the doctor was working in an army hospital in the City of Eindhoven, the same city where I grew up. He must have walked the same streets as I would, just a couple of years later…
Unbelievable and what a coincidence! According his son, it was predestined that his fathers car would come to me…


Unfortunately, the rest of the cars history is still incomplete although I have 4 names over the period 1958 to 2003.
Interestingly, the last owner was a young lady named Faith N.T. from Phoenix Arizona who started the restoration in 2003 but then moved in 2007 to Greenville, South Carolina and the restoration came to a hold.
I misuse the opportunity to ask whether anybody recognizes Faith. I understand that I’m not entitled to disclose her family name(s), but you can always send me a PM for more information.

Bob K.


Regal Red History.pdf (3.7 MB)
Interesting to see if this gets through the system because I am not sure what I am doing!!
Perhaps you should not of asked about car histories. Only for those Lister’s who like to read!!

Regards to all.

How interesting! Nice to read of others taking an interest in their car’s pre-ownership history.

Bob K.: My car had the same bullet-shaped rear tail lamp lens until replacing them with the correct flat glass type.

Wonderful stories! I am jealous.

When my 120 came to me in 1980 I learned it had been repossessed by a repair shop on a mechanic’s lien for non-payment of bills, then auctioned off by the sheriff to the shop as the only bidder for one dollar. The state of Illinois issued a new title, and then the shop sold the car to me. So the paper trail ends there.

Or does it?

I found a box of parts in the car with a name and address about 10 miles from me; found him and he remembered the car, said it was brought to the US by an American serviceman, he had bought and sold the car in 1972, had no paperwork, but I got the original ignition key and a few other parts from him.

I wrote to Brown’s Lane in 1982, asking for any history of it, and they sent back a form letter with hand written entries (this was long before Heritage Certificates) giving color scheme, distributor, despatch date, registration number, and first owner (misspelled) copied from the production record books. The registration was in Coventry.

Our own John Elmgreen, the founder of this forum, had occasion to view those books, recognized my chassis number, and copied down the correct spelling of the owner, Mr. Robert Lamouret, and sent it to me.

An Internet search found that Lamouret lived in Paris, was a ventriloquist, performed with a duck puppet named Dudule, and his performance is on Youtube.

He sings an aria from The Barber of Seville while the duck shaves him and makes a mess. It’s pretty funny.

I found his granddaughter in France, and she sent me a couple of photos of him with the car.

You can see the little Marchal side marker light required for France behind the quarter window.

So I have a big gap in the car’s history.
I sort of hope someday somebody with a previous Illinois title will turn up.
Or maybe I don’t, if they were to try to claim ownership. But I should be ok as the State of Illinois says it belongs to me.

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I guess I was really lucky to have found out most of the history on my XK120. When I went to pick it up (having acquired it just over 5 years ago) I found a copy of an email on the passenger seat from the son of the first owner. He had noticed the registration number when he saw the car advertised, and recognised it as his father’s old car. He said he had a number of photos taken when his father owned it, and would I be interested in having copies? You can guess my answer! His father got the car new in December 1950 while he was student at Cambridge University. Apparently he rallied it a bit, once hitting a cow, which did the bodywork no good at all. A new body was fitted in 1952 (presumably at Jaguar, as I have an old bill from the factory for fitting a heater and Radiomobile 4200 radio in 1951). The story is that the family were friends of the Lyons family. Soon after, he moved to Paris, and I believe owned the car in France for most of the rest of the 1950s. Anyway, here are a few of the pictures he sent, taken in 1953.


I love all of these pictures and stories of our XK’s from way back when. The old black and whites also make for a refeshing break from the usual parts/ repairs questions – not that I don’t like reading those too. Keep 'em coming!

Christopher, I can’t help but wonder whether the Sheboygan dentist had some involvement with the Road America/Elkhart Lake track located just down the road.

Sheboygan has its own newspaper. It’s possible there could be information about the dentist and his XK120 in the newspaper archives or at the Sheboygan public library.

I was able to obtain a copy of an informative newspaper article about a deceased previous owner of my XK120 from the San Francisco Public Library.

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Chris, your pic of the Bristol airplane at Le Touquet and the 120 with the bonnet up may suggest how it got over to France.
Silver City Airways was in business flying cars across the channel for people who could afford it.
Mark V saloon in Bristol freighter


Indeed, Rob. I believe he was about to return to England for a visit, via Bristol Freighter of Silver City Airways. BTW, the plane shown is a later version, called the Super Freighter, if memory serves?
The XK seemed to have its bonnet up quite a lot…

The wing vents can be clearly seen, indicative of the later body, and the side-exiting tailpipe is also visible. Note that the seats were not as neatly stuffed as they are in many restorations, nowadays!


Yeah, that’s a good question Mike. There doesn’t seem to be indication so far that the dentist raced it since it formerly had 40+ year-old Sears white wall bias-ply (“Garfield”) tires and the service station sticker inside the drivers door from '89 shows an odometer figure of only 110 miles less than the current one. I kind of get the feeling that he wasn’t too hands-on maintenance-wise other than keeping the chrome and paint looking good. And yet, that’s not to say that possibly the owner that preceded him wasn’t in to some sort of racing or rallying since it still retains a vintage Vertex magneto. It also had a home made, but nice, galvanized radiator overflow tank, retrofitted demisters, ducts and a '49 Buick pancake heater with fan nicely fitted. Spark plug wiring was retained by an aluminum bracket with an engine-turned finish. Somebody previous had intermediate-level machinist skills and knew how to expertly solder galvanized metal too.

Hopefully I’ll get an eventual reply to my letter with some answers. And the Sheboygan Press comment is a good idea too.

I’m the third owner of my MKII. The second owner fortunately kept all the records he obtained when he purchased the car from the original owners. He only owned it for a short time before I bought it, and although the car was 25 years old by then, I was able to contact the original owners through these records. I was able to get the full history of their ownership and they were delighted to know it found a good home and had been restored.

Unfortunately, I have no such history with my 150S. Its history prior to the dealer I bought it from has been lost to the ages.

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Hi Christopher:

My Heritage Certificate lists not only the Toronto dealer my car was dispatched to, it also shows the name of the first owner. I did conduct a little research with respect to that name some time back and found several individuals with the name still in the area, however, I never followed up pursuing it any further. As a result there is a ten year gap between the first owner and the individual I purchased the car from in 1963 about which I know almost nothing. A couple of things I was able to glean about the car’s earlier life were, unfortunately, a tad disturbing. A fellow who knew the chap I bought the car from recounted to me a story of a trip he made in it during which he observed the oil pressure gauge dropping under acceleration. He drew this to the attention of the owner and suggested that perhaps a stop at a service station to check the oil might be in order. On checking it was found that nothing showed on the dipstick. A quart was added, still nothing showing. Another quart was added which finally showed up at the tip of the dipstick (meaning the sump was still some four quarts low). When the need for more oil was pointed out the owner simply responded: “F–k it, that’s enough” !! This attitude and approach to vehicle maintenance probably accounted for my discovery following purchase that several of the tappet guides were loose in the head. Another story passed on to me was that the car had been driven over a set of railroad tracks in previous ownership. A couple of indentations in the driver’s side frame rail and the compression of the sump guard on the same side appeared to also confirm that story!

Attached is a photo of yours truly as a 24 year old in 1964 giving my best Stirling Moss impression while proudly powering my recently-out-of-the-body shop XK through the final right hand sweep of a downhill “S” curve on the aptly-named Snake Road. This road ran from Waterdown where I lived and Hamilton where I worked. Traversing it twice daily over a two year period taught me whatever driving skills I currently possess! By the way, the car was Suede Green when dispatched, White when I bought it, Opalescent Silver Blue after the first visit to the body shop and now Black as currently seen on XK Data.



Rob, speaking for myself, if I were in the market for a FHC like yours, and not having known any of its previous history, ordinarily I’d see something like that little marker light as a non-original annoyance to be removed at a future date and my offer would be lowered accordingly. But because you’ve researched its history and have pictures showing it when new, it would completely change things for me. I’d then come to value it and of course it would stay. This posting is a good example for the value of having done your research. How many of us have discarded something aftermarket – right or wrong – without knowing its back story along with the possibility that it might have stayed if some importance was known to be attached to it? I know I have.

Chris, I know you’ll be saving pictures like that along with its story for your kids – or whoever else comes to know it next. Good for you and the next owner. An interesting observation though: why are there what appears to be XK140-type tail lamps on your '120?

I think the story of my E Type is well-documented in the archives. I’m lucky, inasmuch I know/knew its history from its sale in England, in 1963, till the time I sold it, in 2016.

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The XK140 tail lights were on the car when I bought it in 1963. Interestingly, the first time I removed the lenses I found a piece of mirror glass located behind the bulbs on each side. I can only assume that a previous owner must have felt unsatisfied with the light emanating from the original tail lamps and substituted the XK140-type, enhanced with mirror glass in a bid for more lumens!

By the way, I realized after posting the photo that I added two years to my age, in truth I was only 22 in 1964!


Maybe had you encountered Sir Stirling, he would have signed your XK, too!

Yes, the Marchal marker lights and their panel switches are not in the parts catalogues, but I saw them on a Citroen, a Facel Vega, a LHD Bentley, and a LHD Mark V, and all were associated with France; then someone on this forum said they were installed by the French dealers as a required safety item. The law at the time was if you parked on the street overnight you had to switch on one of these lights.

The other period idiosyncracy I retained is the painted tail light housings. Again on this forum I learned that they are correct for an indeterminate period in late '51 to early '52, when there was a shortage of nickel so these were not chromed. LWK707 the Montlhery car is another. Mark VII tail lights too incidentally.
Notice printed in a Lucas catalogue.