January 18, 2009, marks the final day of a weeklong auction in which auto giant General Motors (GM) sells off historic cars from its Heritage Collection. GM sold around 200 vehicles at the Scottsdale, Arizona, auction, including a 1996 Buick Blackhawk concept car for $522,500, a 1969 Chevrolet Camaro ZL-1 COPO Coupe for $319,000 and a 1959 Chevrolet Corvette convertible for $220,000. Other items included a 1998 Cadillac Brougham, which was built for the pope. (That vehicle was blessed by the pope but never used because of safety issues; it sold for more than $57,000.) Most were preproduction, development, concept or prototype cars.
The vehicles came from GM’s Heritage Center, an 81,000 square foot facility in Sterling, Michigan, that houses hundreds of cars and trucks from GM’s past, along with documents chronicling the company’s history and other artifacts and “automobilia.” Rumors spread that the financially troubled GM was selling off its entire fleet of historic vehicles, but that was not the case. As The New York Times reported shortly after the January auction: “Much has been made of the timing of the sale coinciding with G.M.’s current situation, but G.M. is simply doing the same thing that many large-scale collectors and museums regularly do in culling certain pieces from their collections. This was hardly a wholesale dumping of G.M.’s heritage.”
- Financial Resources
- Retail Customers
- Lease Customers
- Business Customers
- Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA)
- Payment Options
- Lease End
- New Customer
- Simple Interest
- Financial Articles
Explore the ways you can make payments.
Learn about budgeting, managing your account and more in our articles.
How to Trace the History of Your Classic Car
Of all the restorations in which we've taken part, we have successfully traced the cars' histories in slightly over half. As for the other half we have found some, but not all, information in every case. In all of the projects we have spoken to at least one former owner and learned wonderful little tidbits of information.
In every case — except one — we found previous owners more than willing to talk about their cars, and all were enthusiastic at knowing the cars were under restoration. In that single case, a '66 Sunbeam Tiger, the original owner had sold the car after his daughter borrowed it one night and was found murdered. He was pleased that the car was being restored but couldn't discuss his daughter's fate, even though over 20 years had passed. He declined an offer to see the car when the restoration was completed (very understandable.)
Knowing the history of your car adds tremendously to the restoration experience and it is worth the effort to find out where it was delivered and sold, then passed from owner to owner until it reached you. Here are some effective ways to trace your car's history that we've found quite effective.
First, The VIN
Whether you're trying to locate a car you once owned* (it can be done!) or tracing the owners of the one you are restoring, the first thing you need to do is decode the VIN number. Why? Because the VIN contains critical information such as: where the car was manufactured production date interior and exterior colors accessories.
* You can't find that old car you owned without the VIN number, so start searching through those old insurance policies. They always contain the number. If you don't have old copies but have had the same insurance company/agent all these years, contact them and ask for a record check. Chances are they can find the number. Other sources might be checkbooks, military records, tax records and old photos that show license plates. Some DMV's have records that go back many, many years.
The most important pieces of information are the place and date of manufacture. The factory location is important because most popular cars were produced in a number of different locations. Knowing the factory location narrows down the geographic area where the car might have been delivered (Fords made in California didn't normally get shipped to New Jersey dealers, etc.).
The date of manufacture indicates where in the production run the car might have been, what engineering changes might have been incorporated and whether or not claims by previous owners may be valid (unscrupulous sellers will say anything to increase the value of a car, so don't readily believe the car is "the first one off the line," "factory installed big block" or some other claim.)
Decoding VIN numbers is easy these days. Many books about specific models have VIN decoder charts inside, frequently stating which dealer ordered the car. If you have the dealer's name you can go directly to them for records of the original purchaser.
Another way to do it is to join an enthusiasts' website or forum. Nearly all of these have members who will decode VIN numbers or they post the information on the site. Taking the time to decode your VIN number tells you so much that you can't afford not to do it.
Onward To The DMV!
It is most likely that you will have to trace ownership through a DMV. Everybody hates the DMV, so you have to change your "mindset" about them. Consider the DMV's of the 50 states to be a huge resource that is waiting to be tapped for information. It's how you go about doing so that is the secret to success, so be patient and allow yourself to explore the intricacies of the system.
In the final analysis, what you are trying to do is trace back each owner in succession, through the use of title searches. Therefore, you have to start with the state from which the title you received at the time of purchase was issued and work backwards.
Many times during this process you will receive copies of titles that go back to when the vehicle entered the state. At that point there will either be a copy of the previous title or its number and issuing state. That information will be used to contact the next state DMV for information, and so on.
Most state DMV's will look up titles for a fee and it is always best to contact the main office (usually in the state capital) instead of a satellite office. Below is the web address for all the US and Canada DMV's:
At this site you can find the appropriate DMV and, with luck, transact your business on the web.
How you do so is important, especially in this time of heightened social paranoia and concern for privacy. You don't want anyone thinking you're a detective looking for a deadbeat or a lawyer trying to sue some past owner, so take your time constructing your request. Here's a sample letter to a DMV that we've found produces results:
To Whom It May Concern,
I have purchased the following vehicle, ______________, VIN # ____________, Title #_________, for the purpose of a complete restoration. As part of that restoration I would like to trace its history through all previous owners, back to its date of manufacture and delivery to the dealer.
I am requesting a title search back to the time the car entered your state. Copies of titles would be preferred if your system allows. However, any information as to owners, dates of transfer, cities/towns, etc. will be appreciated.
Fees required for such searches will be remitted in any way you request, and I will be happy to sign any applicable non-disclosure agreement. Thank you for your assistance in this matter.
Be patient, because this process could take some time. If your vehicle "lived" in several states the tracing process could take months, but eventually you should be successful in tracing most, if not all, previous owners.
Contacting Previous Owners
This is the part where luck comes into place. Copies of old titles show the name and address of the then-owner, so a white-pages search (now on the internet) will sometimes turn up the individual still residing there. In most cases, however, you will find the owner moved away, died or otherwise can't be found. Just move on to the next one in that case.
When you do make contact make sure you tell the person that you believe he/she once owned the car you are restoring and you'd like to talk about it. You will almost always hear a good story and some details on the car itself.
Like the restoration itself, tracing the car's history is supposed to be fun. Don't get impatient or frustrated if you reach a dead end. Time has a way of fixing such problems and in the end any information you obtain will further enrich the restoration experience.
In addition to the Sunbeam Tiger tidbit above, these are some things we uncovered on various restoration projects:
1965 XKE — Original owner received the car as a birthday present. It was shipped to the family's resort home in the Bahamas, where the speed limit was 25 mph. A later owner (female) drove the now-shabby car in the Powderpuff Derby in Florida.
1954 XK120 — The car was purchased in Morocco by an Air Force officer and then put in the bomb bay of a B47 and flown to Newburg, NY to avoid the steep import taxes at the time.
1963 Falcon Sprint — Originally a Monte Carlo race car, one of us owned it for 5 years back in the 1960s, then sold it to a fellow Naval aviation officer who took it to Beeville, Texas. We found it in 1999 — still in the same town — and shipped it back to the Second Chance Garage for a full restoration.
1950 Ford — We found that its second owner (a graduate student at Wake Forest who owned it from 1956-1959) used it as a moonshine-runner in the Carolinas in order to put himself through school.
1955 Crown Victoria — The original owner of the car (an 80 year-old woman) traded in a 1954 Corvette to the Ford dealer. She stated that she didn't like the harsh ride.
© 2021 Second Chance Garage, LLC. All Rights Reserved. Reproducing any material on this website without permission is prohibited.
25 Classic Cars to Drive Before You Die
Almost everyone has a fantasy that involves a super-cool car. Here's how to get behind the wheel.
The 1967 Chevy Corvette, the 1975 BMW 3.0 CSL, any pre-1974 Porsche 911&ndashthese are some of the vehicles that have earned a significant place in automotive history. Iconic yet accessible, they are museum-quality cars that you really just want to take for a spin. These automotive legends have weathered the decades, but with some ingenuity, you can still get behind the wheel of most of them. Here's our list of the ones worth the hunt.
Once called "the most beautiful car ever made" by Enzo Ferrari, the 1960s Jaguar E-Type is a classic sports car mainstay. "If you only choose one car from this list to drive, this is the one," says McKeel Hagerty, CEO of Hagerty, the world's largest provider of collector vehicle insurance. This staple of British motoring history still has verve&ndashit can perform up to 150 m.p.h. and brakes better than most cars from its era. Visit the Jaguar Heritage Driving Experience program in Kenilworth, U.K., where you can pay for a day of driving the marque's classics.
The emblem of Big Three muscle cars, the Chevy Corvette is the most collected vehicle in America. The second generation, which spanned 1963 to 1967, is "the most iconic American car ever made," says Keith Martin, publisher of Sports Car Market. "It's still breathtaking and fresh today." Early generation Corvettes remain plentiful in the U.S., so you can scour auctions, collector car dealers, and websites like classiccars.com for deals.
Considered by some to be the sexiest car ever built, the Miura debuted in 1966 as a sleek mid-engine speedster designed to challenge Ferrari. "Piloting the Miura transcends driving experience to become a life experience," Hagerty says. "If the sound of six carburetors feeding a thirsty, vibrating V-12 moored right behind your head isn't enough, it's also arguably the most beautiful car ever produced." To buy one, contact the Lamborghini Club America or an auction house like RM Sotheby's or Gooding & Co. They're usually in the know about the cars before they reach the general market.
The Porsche 911 represents vintage driving at its best&mdashparticularly during the golden era before the car's 1974 redesign. "There's magic in the early 911," Hagerty says. "It's an amazingly well-built machine that delivers one of the most honest driving experiences of any sports car ever built." Even by today's standards, first-generation 911s still have plenty of horsepower and can hold their own on the track. You can find one, even in mint condition, on eBay.
Based on the first full-size car Rolls-Royce made after the war, the original Silver Dawn drophead launched in 1949 and retired in 1954. The name was intended to mark the dawn of a new era for the world and Rolls-Royce's place in it. Slightly smaller than pre-war cars, the Dawn helped the British bespoke carmaker reintroduce motoring craftsmanship while bringing the company into the modern age. They're extremely rare: only three of the original 28 dropheads remain in the U.S., and those are owned by private collectors. Happily, the carmaker is introducing a successor model after a 60-year hiatus.
Among the first sports cars of the post-war era, the Mercedes SL 300 Gullwing was the fastest production car of its time when it was introduced in 1954. As the first direct fuel injection series production car, the SL 300 could travel at an eye-popping 160 miles per hour. "Nobody expected something like that from Mercedes," says Constantin von Kageneck, a specialist in classic car marketing at the Mercedes-Benz Classic Center in Irvine, CA. Though about three-quarters of the original SL 300's survive today, many still belong to their original owners. To see one, visit the Classic Center or an automotive museum like the Petersen in Los Angeles.
Ferrari made just 39 of these elegant race cars between 1962 and 1964, so they are extremely rare. "The 250 GTO is probably the holy grail in terms of value and recognition, but the reality is only a handful of people in the world will ever have the chance to legitimately drive one," Hagerty says. An early model fetched $38 million at Bonhams' Quail Lodge auction at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance two years ago. If that's too pricey, know that any 1960s Prancing Horse with a V12 engine is worthy of making the list.
The precursor to James Bond's getaway car, the Aston Martin DB4 is an iconic workhorse. "The DB4 is a thoroughbred that never gets flustered," Hagerty says. "I wouldn't hesitate to drive one across the country. It's no wonder that James Bond favored the derivative DB5." They're in short supply, so if you want to drive one, your best bet may be to befriend a collector.
If any part of you harbors a race-track fantasy, this is the car to track down. When BMW came to America in 1975, it brought a quartet of models with it, including the 3.0 CSL coupe. Driven by racing legends Brian Redman, Sam Posey, and Hans Stuck, the car claimed victory at the 12 Hours of Sebring race that year and won Daytona the following year. The pair of triumphs established BMW's performance chops stateside. In addition to its engineering and performance legacy, the 3.0 CSL pioneered a host of technologies found in later BMW models, from its first-ever four-valve six-cylinder engine to its early anti-lock braking system. BMW offers a turn at the wheel as part of its BMW Classic Center in Munich.
Acura's halo car from 1990 to 2005, the NSX is young but mighty. "While it's not as sexy as its European rivals, the Acura NSX showed the rest of the world that supercar specs and daily-driver manners could co-exist," Hagerty says. "It inspires confidence and begs you to keep pushing, braking later, and turning harder. It may be the most underrated car on this list." Its successor, the new Acura NSX, reaches customers this year and is likely to inspire renewed interest in the original. Fortunately, Acura made 9,000 first-generation NSX cars so finding one online is easy.
Also known as the Cobra, this high-performance descendant of the Ford Mustang was a darling of the late 1960s. With Ford's V8 engine, the Shelby GT350 was a legitimate racecar for the street. "When you get into it and turn the key, the car doesn't only rumble audibly, it also actually shimmies side-to-side and up-and-down, just a bit," Hagerty says. "And that's while it's still parked. When you get on the gas it leaps and roars." You will quickly see why designer Carroll Shelby is lauded as a 20 th -century motoring genius. To drive a vintage Cobra, visit a high-end classic car auction house, dealer, or specialized broker.
Produced from 1908 to 1927, this is the car that birthed the American automotive industry. Affordable by mass market standards, the Model T begat car culture and road trips. "Everyone needs to know where they came from," Hagerty says. "When it comes to American motoring, that starting place is the Model T." With a volatile hand-crank engine and two-speed transmission (not including the reverse gear), the Model T isn't easy to drive, even if you can get your hands on one. But rest assured&ndash27 mph will never feel so thrilling.
A counter-culture classic, the vintage VW Beetle represents simplicity and fun&ndashin other words, motoring at its best. "Besides the easy driving experience, the Beetle's friendly exterior attracts people no matter where you're driving, and it seems everyone has their own Beetle story to share," Hagerty says. "This is not the car to buy if you're shy." If you'd like to get behind the wheel, old Beetles can easily be sourced from eBay and classified ads.
The quirky Volvo P1800 was stylish enough for Roger Moore to drive one in the spy thriller TV series The Saint. This two-seater sports car is durable: one surviving model has clocked more than three million miles. Its brethren belong to private owners, but check with the Volvo Owners Clubs if you'd like to find one for sale or make an owner an offer.
The V10 Dodge Viper GTS of the 1990s couldn't be built today. At 450 horsepower, it's every bit as raw as its predecessor, the Shelby Cobra, without anti-lock brakes or traction control to correct driver error. "It's the automotive equivalent of whiskey, neat&ndashno pretense, just one hell of an experience," Hagerty says. You can find one online or through a collector vehicle auction house such as Auctions America or Mecum.
With Italian styling and a reliable Ford V8 engine, the DeTomaso Pantera represents the best of both worlds and is a worthy alternative to similar Lamborghinis and Ferraris from the same era. "You'd expect an early '70s Italian car to be garish, loud, and hard to drive," Hagerty says. "While it is garish and loud, the Italian-bodied and American-powered Pantera is actually rather easy to drive." Procure one at a high-end classic car auction house, such as Barrett-Jackson or Bonhams.
The McLaren F1 announced the British supercar maker's foray into modern racing when it was unveiled in 1992. Six years later, it set the record for the world's fastest production car, at 242 mph. "The McLaren F1 was Formula One legend Gordon Murray's high-tech supercar answer to Porsche and Ferrari," Hagerty says. "And it didn't just exceed the standards they established, it obliterated them. Driving an F1 is a sublime ballet of shocking power, braking, and control." McLaren only built 64 of these, but fortunately, it just put up for sale chassis #69, the 60th model built. If you have eight figures to spend, you can contact [email protected]
Built from 1991 to 1995, this Italian-made V16 supercar was originally designed as the Lamborghini Diablo. But when Chrysler purchased a stake in Lamborghini and the Diablo's designers modified the plan, mastermind Marcelo Gandini took his original blueprints to automotive engineer Claudio Zampolli, who built it as a Cizeta. Cizeta built only a handful during the car's initial production run, but they occasionally resurface on the market.
Porsche's first production car, the rear-engine, rear-wheel drive Porsche 356, survived four high-flying generations before it was laid to rest in the mid-1960s. Considered the most highly developed of the four-cylinder Porsches, the 356 is also regarded by vintage car experts as the most fun to drive. Procuring one isn't difficult: about half of the 76,000 cars originally produced survive.
The Datsun 240Z started the Japanese sports car craze when it arrived in America in the early 1970's. Offering lots of power and a pleasant interior for not much money, the Datsun paved the way for Toyota, Honda and Nissan to gain acceptance with U.S. consumers in the following decades. Classified ads from Hemmings and AutoTrader Classics have many Datsun 240Zs listed for sale.
If you watched television in the 1980s, you will likely remember Thomas Magnum, played by Tom Selleck, tooling around Hawaii in one of these targa tops on Magnum, P.I. Produced from 1975 to 1985, the two-seater V8 Ferrari 308 GTS represented elegance and adventure. The originals used on set were auctioned when the series ended, but you might find one on display at attractions such as the Cars of the Stars Motor Museum in Cumbria, England, or Universal Studios Hollywood.
The original Camaro served as Chevrolet's answer to the Mustang&ndashbut with more style and power. General Motors introduced the Camaro in 1967, setting off an eight-cylinder pony war of American muscle power that persists today. First-generation Camaros abound online. If you'd like to buy one, search sites like eBay or AutoTrader Classics.
The Pininfarina-designed Fiat 124 Spider debuted in the U.S. in 1968 to an eager audience. With ample trunk space and enough room in the cabin for two people not to touch shoulders, the roadster quickly became a road trip classic. "It doesn't have much power, but it's cute," Martin says. "It's a great summertime car." If you can't find an original model online, know that Fiat is introducing an updated 124 Spider for 2017.
Introduced in 1959, the bulbous British roadster became the last of the "big Healeys" when it ended production in 1967. Curvaceous and brass, the Austin-Healey 3000 was an automotive icon of the Swinging Sixties. "This was the final version of the 'Big Healey,' with its powerful six-cylinder engine and overdrive," Martin says. "It will cruise easily at 75 mph on today's freeways." You can occasionally find a late-model Austin-Healey 3000 through Hemmings and other classic car-buying websites.
The GM Trolley Conspiracy: What Really Happened
Back in the dawn of the Automobile Age, General Motors began systematically buying streetcar lines and then shutting them down, leaving millions of Americans without viable public transportation options. Its motive? To ensure a market for its still-novel personal transportation technology. Rather than walk, the idea was, people would buy Buicks.
If you've seen "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?" you know this story in broad outline. If you have happened to catch one of the airings of a 1996 public television show called "Taken for a Ride," these details are just a few of the ones assembled into a convincing portrait of a high-level, backroom industrial conspiracy to cheat Americans out of cheap, convenient, sustainable transportation. If so, what you know is not what happened.
There is no question that a GM-controlled entity called National City Lines did buy a number of municipal trolley car systems. And it's beyond doubt that, before too many years went by, those street car operations were closed down. It's also true that GM was convicted in a post-war trial of conspiring to monopolize the market for transportation equipment and supplies sold to local bus companies. What's not true is that the explanation for these events is a nefarious plot to trade private corporate profits for viable public transportation.
While the general public, at least those who've been exposed to the story, is likely to buy the GM-as-evil-conspirator tale, transportation historians and economic researchers do not. Just why is made clear in a 1997 article in Transportation Quarterly, a journal published by the non-partisan Eno Transportation Foundation of Lansdowne, Virginia.
The main point of "General Motors and the Demise of Streetcars" and other critics of the conspiracy theory is that trolley systems were replaced by bus systems for economic reasons, not because of a plot. Bus lines were less expensive to operate than trolleys, and far less costly to build because there were no rails. Extending service to rapidly growing suburbs could be accomplished quickly, by simply building a few bus stops, rather than taking years to construct rail lines. So, buses replaced streetcars.
For similar reasons, with the added one of personal preference for individual transportation, private cars also played an important role in the demise of streetcars. People understandably liked driving their own cars directly to their destinations more than crowding onto trolleys that dropped them blocks from where they were going.
None of this is to say that streetcars are bad, nor that the light-rail transit systems under construction or expansion in many cities today are doomed to meet the fates of their predecessors. Nor is it intended to make the case that corporate goliaths are not likely to be merciless competitors who use whatever means are at their disposal, including semi-legitimate or illegitimate as well as legitimate techniques.
The lesson this story has for entrepreneurs is that when you come across something that everybody knows, that is something you should suspect is wrong. Especially when the tale tugs at our emotions, twanging heartstrings tied to nostalgia, stirring latent suspicion of giant organizations, and reviving nostalgic longings for times when things were supposedly better, reserve judgment. It may be that we stopped riding streetcars because we didn't want to, not because we couldn't.
Image courtesy of Flickr user plattypus1, CC2.0
First published on September 3, 2010 / 8:40 AM
© 2010 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Mark Henricks' reporting on business and other topics has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Inc., Entrepreneur, and many other leading publications. He lives in Austin, Texas, where myth looms as large as it does anywhere.
Months before the cars would be available, it was clear that DeLorean was going big: for the holiday season of 1980, the American Express catalog advertised a DeLorean plated in 24-karat gold going for $85,000 (versus $20,000&mdashabout $54,000 today&mdashfor the steel version).
“Shaped like a flying wedge, the DeLorean appears to exceed the 55-m.p.h. speed limit while standing still,” TIME noted. “It is expected to get 22 m.p.g., about the same as a diesel-powered 1981 Cadillac Brougham. Entry to its luxuriously appointed interior is through gull-wing doors that tilt up instead of swinging out. The 24-karat car will pose some special maintenance problems. Owners wishing to get any dents knocked out will probably have to return the damaged part to the factory, where the bumps will be pounded out and the piece refinished in gold.”
By October of 1980, seven people had put down a deposit on a golden DeLorean.
Though the 1980 car market wasn’t exactly solid gold, the lavish DeLorean style didn’t stop at the cars themselves. A 1983 book later charged that John DeLorean ran up expenses on the company’s dime even after it was clear the cars wouldn’t be a big hit. In April of 1981, he bought a new house in what was then one of the largest residential real-estate deals in New Jersey history. But by the time the company hit its first production anniversary, it was in trouble. In October of 1982, DeLorean closed&mdashand John DeLorean was arrested and charged with trying to save his company by selling cocaine.
He was found not guilty&mdashhe had been entrapped, the jury said&mdashbut in 1985 he was back in court on a number of chargers relating to his handling of company money. He was acquitted in 1986, but it was too late for the car. Only about 9,000 of the cars were ever produced.
It’s still possible to buy a DeLorean. As collector’s items, a top-notch used early-s DMC-12 can go for nearly $50,000. But that first DeLorean is out of reach: it’s now held in the collection of the Western Reserve Historical Society in Cleveland.
Importance of VINs for Older Vehicles
Whether it's for pure nostalgia or business purposes, there are many reasons you may need to locate the VIN of an older vehicle. Some of the more common include:
- Searching for an old car or truck you used to own.
- Checking the authenticity of an older vehicle before you decide to purchase it.
- Getting the exact history for an old car you already own.
- Obtaining production numbers for rare or special edition vehicles.
- Determining an accurate value for a vehicle before you decide to sell.
Like any used car, it's important to know as much about a vehicle's history as possible. Because older cars and trucks typically have a larger monetary value, the risk is often greater—especially if you don't have any way of knowing basic information of a car or truck's history.
What Happens to Lemon Law Cars After They're Bought Back?
The answer is likely not something you want to hear, and a reason to be very careful when you're buying a used car.
The lemon law makes automakers buy back defective cars. But what happens to those cars might surprise you&ndashespecially if you unknowingly bought one.
Car manufacturers buy back thousands of defective automobiles each year because they are difficult to repair&ndashif they can be repaired at all. Those lemons are then resold by the manufacturers, fixed or not, and are once again on the roads and in repair shops. Many people mistakenly believe that the titles to these cars are always branded as lemons so that future car shoppers would be on notice of what the vehicle&rsquos history was before they made their purchase.
This is quite far from the truth.
All 50 states have lemon laws, creating minimum standards for warranty repairs. If a car or truck cannot be repaired after a certain number of attempts or a particular time frame, then the manufacturer must buy the car back from the consumer or replace it with a non-defective one. While most people focus on the &ldquoWhat happens if you have a lemon and how do you get rid of it?&rdquo question, the follow up question I often hear is, &ldquoWhat happens to these cars?&rdquo
The answer depends on the state where the car ends up. But they all get resold back to consumers, many who do not know of the vehicles&rsquos history as a lemon.
Vehicles with unusual histories often end up with special titles. In many states, the titles are &ldquobranded&rdquo to notify owners and prospective buyers that the car has a noteworthy history. Was the car sold for &ldquoSalvage&rdquo because an insurance company deemed it a total loss? Then the word &ldquoSalvage&rdquo might be printed in bold letters across the top of the title in a place where no one could miss it.
But how states handle title branding varies widely, as is often the case with state laws. And the place where this is the most apparent is in the area of Lemon Law title branding. Fewer than a third of the states require any form of title branding when a vehicle is repurchased under a state&rsquos lemon law. And since not all states use this brand, a simple transfer of the car to a non-branding state gets the designation removed from the title itself.
It is noteworthy that Carfax and other title-tracking services out there should catch that a vehicle had a branded title in its history. But the few states which brand lemons don&rsquot brand them using the word &ldquolemon.&rdquo Instead, they use euphemisms like &ldquoManufacturer Repurchase&rdquo or some such, which is not as eye-catching. Many vehicle history reporting companies will gloss over this event, noting that the vehicle was sold at auction by the manufacturer but not to worry, since many vehicles are sold at auction each year.
Further confusing this issue, the reporting companies will often note that the repurchased lemon has no title branding issues&ndasheven though it was bought back under the lemon law. The lack of a brand simply means that it was bought back in a non-branding state.
So, never assume that a vehicle with a &ldquoclean&rdquo unbranded title is not a lemon law buyback. Check its title history and look for anything that suggests the car was owned or sold by the manufacturer after it was sold the first time to a civilian. And, pay attention to any repeated repairs under warranty. If it suffered more than two or three tries for the same thing, it might have been a lemon&ndashand still be one&ndasheven if the title is not branded as such.
Steve Lehto is a writer and attorney from Michigan. He specializes in Lemon Law and frequently writes about cars and the law. His most recent books include Preston Tucker and His Battle to Build the Car of Tomorrow, and Dodge Daytona and Plymouth Superbird: Design, Development, Production and Competition. He also has a podcast where he talks about these things.
Cars in 1974
In 1974, the Middle East oil embargo, drastically higher fuel costs and much higher price tags for new cars destroyed consumer confidence and enthusiasm. As new car sales slumped, layoffs and plant closings increased.
U.S. auto production in 1974 decreased 24% from 1973.
Volkswagen was the leading import, but was hit hard by the slumping sales as well.
One of the industry’s issues was trying to determine the customer’s buying taste. Many automakers thought that the demand for compact and subcompact cars would skyrocket because of the fuel shortage and high cost of gasoline. But, after a strong first six months for the small cars, standard and luxury models sold better than expected after summer.
Car prices jumped substantially in the 1975 models. However, the price picture was difficult to clarify because automakers shuffled standard and optional equipment on their cars.
GM complained that if 1976 standards requiring stronger brakes and 1977 standards that call for airbags were approved, the price of cars would increase even more.
BMW introduced the 3 series. One of my favorite cars ever, the old school Jaguar XJS was also released that year.
Hatchbacks were increasing in popularity and Buick responded by coming out with the Buick Skyhawk — a quintessential mid-seventies car.