How To Do A Classic Car VIN Lookup

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As a classic car hobbyist or owner, one thing you must understand is how to trace the vehicle’s history using a classic car VIN lookup database.

Failing to look up or locate your classic car VIN could put you at risk. For example, not knowing the history of your car means you could miss some important information like the vehicle’s authenticity or any accidents in the past.

To do a classic car VIN lookup, you must first locate your VIN on old vehicle documents like the title or by checking the VIN plates on the car. Then you can decode the VIN. Once you have the VIN handy, you can use Classic Car Database, VinFree Check, or VinData to do the lookup.

The classic car VIN lookup process can be tricky, especially for many old vehicles from the 1950s and 1960s. The key difference when doing a traditional car VIN lookup and a classic car one is the VIN format, which is why using a decoder first is necessary. This guide will explain exactly how to do a classic car VIN lookup in the fewest steps possible.

All of the resources recommended in this guide are ranked highly in the industry and have been tested to ensure they provide the best results.

Table of Contents


How To Do A Classic Car VIN Lookup

Finding your classic car history is difficult because of the odd history of VIN numbers. However, you have a few resources to help you find classic car history by using a reliable database.

These sites have multiple resources to help you find your classic car history, but they could also be helpful if you’re looking for a specific vehicle or parts or just want to learn more about it, it can be done using a VIN lookup.

But because VIN numbers before 1981 were in a different format, you must decode the VIN using a decoder like VINmagic to get the number in the right format. Once this is done, you can use these databases to find the necessary information.

Classic Car Database

The Classic Car Database is an excellent resource for most classic car owners, with lots of information and tools that work exceptionally well.

This is an in-depth database with over 33,000 vehicle models. The tool is extremely simple to use, and you can even search the website for more information on different vehicles using only the year and make.

The engine VIN code tool provides you with every piece of information about your desired vehicle. It also includes a link to the VIN decoder and lookup all in one place.

VinFree Check

VinFree Check is another awesome tool that can be used for much more than just classic cars. This website provides everything you need as a classic car enthusiast, including a VIN lookup, license plate lookup,  and even a motorcycle VIN lookup.

There is also a free VIN decoder, so you can get everything done in one place. Once you have your VIN decoded, you can input it into the lookup tool to get in-depth information like odometer records, vehicle specs, and detailed information about the vehicle’s history.

This website also includes tons of free information and resources for classic car owners.


VINData is another reliable VIN lookup tool that works on many vehicle models, and it’s especially useful for classic cars due to the size of their database.

The only downside to this resource is that they have no VIN decoder for you, but you can use VINmagic first. It is completely free, and the report includes information like title records, odometer readings, junk/salvage loss, vehicle value, recalls, and more.

Where Do You Find The Classic Car VIN?

If you want to perform a classic car VIN lookup, you need to find the number first. There are two places to look to find the VIN number for your classic car.

First, look at the old documents, like the vehicle title. If you don't have any of these documents, you can locate the VIN plates on the car instead.

Check Old Documents

If you are searching for your VIN, the two documents that will always have it are the car’s title and the registration card. However, classic car owners tend to lose these documents because they are older.

Locate The VIN Plates

The alternative is to locate the VIN plates on your classic car. The exact location may vary based on the year of the car, but most classic cars will have these places.

The two most common places are either inside on the driver’s side door or on the vehicle dashboard near the driver’s seat.

Do All Classic Cars Have A VIN?

VINs were first used in 1954 in the United States for cars. But there was no standard for a VIN number so the format could vary quite a bit depending on the year of the car.

In 1981, the NHTSA issued new regulations for vehicle manufacturers to use the new VIN system. This new standardization required all vehicles to use a 17-character VIN, and letters like o, i, and q were restricted from use.

Why Should You Do A Classic Car VIN Lookup?

Whether you are purchasing a new classic car, checking on an existing vehicle, or looking to sell your classic car, a VIN lookup is necessary.

Verify Vehicle Authenticity

Performing a classic car VIN lookup is beneficial because you can verify the vehicle's authenticity and model type. It will provide you with information about the make and model of your vehicle.

This is especially important for older classic cars because you can also verify the vehicle's rarity. You can use this information to ensure you buy a legitimate car from a reliable seller.

Understand Vehicle History

Another great thing about VIN lookups is the ability to see the entire history of a vehicle. This includes all types of information like accident history, previous owner information, odometer readings, recalls, and more.

This also includes any history of theft or if the car was ever towed or impounded in the past. Other information like vehicle specs is crucial too.

Proper Vehicle Documentation

Lastly, the VIN lookup provides you with all proper vehicle documentation. If you are missing any paperwork, you can use the VIN to get it back and find the required information about your classic car.

Why Is The Classic Car VIN Important?

VIN numbers are important in the process of buying and selling cars, and they can also help you identify your older classic car. The VIN number is usually located on either the driver's side door jamb or on the lower part of the windshield.

This is a unique way to identify a vehicle and claim your ownership properly. Because of the history of the VIN number, any cars built before 1951 likely won’t even have one.

However, the age and ownership changes for classic cars make it even more important to have a VIN number. This allows you to look up the vehicle history, and vehicles that are 70 years old have a much longer history to consider.

The VIN will also make it easier for you to place a value on your car. The public databases listed in this guide will work best, and if you need help pricing your classic car, the VIN lookup is a good place to start.