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?