RESEARCHING THE HISTORY OF YOUR AUSTIN SEVEN PART 1

Click here for Part 2

Where to start! Surely as the car is so old there is no information available or would have been lost by now?
Well, your car will have left tiny footprints over time in various places before it reached you and some of those footprints may well still exist. There are many possible places to check, although one of these is no longer available, the main places are listed below:


• DVLA (no longer available)
• Kithead Trust
• Issuing authority for your car registration plate
• British Motor Museum Gaydon
• Internet
• Austin Seven Association Grey Mag
• Ask the previous owner
 
The last item on the list is probably the quickest and easiest route to finding out the history of your car.  When you buy the car, ask the owner what he knows of the car’s history and what information he has on it. Also take a copy of the V5 before it goes off to DVLA, a good idea in case it gets lost, but it will also retain the details of the previous owner should you want to contact them in the future. If you did not ask at the time of purchasing the car and have the previous owner’s details, you could always write to them, they may reply.
DVLA used to permit you to complete a V888 form and they would send you all the V5s they had for your car. Unfortunately, this route is now closed due, I believe, to data protection.
So where to go next? The Kithead Trust (http://kitheadtrust.org.uk) would be the next best option. Who is the Kithead Trust?
 
“The Trust was set up in 1989 under the leadership of the late John Birks, a lifelong transport enthusiast and a senior director in the National Bus Company (NBC). With the privatisation of NBC in the 1980s, its records and those of its subsidiaries were under threat of destruction, having been declined by the then Public Records Office. The establishment of the Trust saved this important body of records – often dating back to the nineteenth century – and became our “core collection”.
To this core collection has been added a significant amount of archive and library material – including the historic library of the Department of Transport in the 1990s and records from many transport operators, manufacturers, statutory authorities and local and central government.
When the Local Taxation Offices were closed in 1977/8 on completion of computerization of the registration system, their vehicle records were offered to the appropriate local record office or police force. In many cases the records were declined, and it is these records which are now held at The Kithead Trust supplemented by others which have since been deposited by police forces or by DVLA.
Owing to the sheer volume involved, it was in most cases only possible to retain records in respect of vehicles first registered before about 1948 but there are one or two exceptions, usually where the records are in book form. The vast majority of records are in the form of an index card for each vehicle. These may give details of the vehicle when new or, more usually, as with the final registered owner. It is extremely rare for details of intermediate owners to be shown.
In many cases the information will simply be a transfer card indicating movement from one registration authority to another; in such cases often it is only the make which is given and sometimes not even that.
There is a considerable variation between differing registration authorities as to the amount of information which they recorded in respect of “void” marks and the date when the vehicle was last licensed also affects the position. Before 1939, details are often sparse because the actual files were at that time retained whilst, after about 1970, entering of last owner details was entirely discontinued.”
 
The Trust may have the historic information on your car or will be able to tell you what happened to those records.
 
A number of people will be able to look at a cars registration and tell you where it came from as each Authority used a different prefix. This is where the Kithead Trust is very helpful as their website will let you enter the prefix and will then tell you the issuing authority and what information they have and if the records that remain are still with the authority. For our age of cars, the Issuing Authority started with two letters and then numbers but when this sequence ran out they switched to three letters but it is only the second and third letter which relates to the Authority e.g.
 
AW 371 AW reg would be Shropshire;  AWL 371 WL reg would be Oxford not Shropshire.
www.da7c.co.uk 18
 
Once you have entered your cars Prefix, looking at the registrations on AW 371 and AWL 371 you will find the following information.
SHROPSHIRE
Shropshire Records Centre, Castle Gates, Shrewsbury, SY1 2AQ (01743 255350) Card index 1921 to 1972 (to K suffix)
OXFORD COUNTY BOROUGH
Oxfordshire Archives, St Lukes Church, Temple Road, OXFORD, OX4 2EX (01865 398200) Registers 1922 to 1974
 
The level of information they have is varied, some records have been partially or fully destroyed and some records have been moved e.g. Bournemouth records are in Dorchester. The level of information they have also ranges from the garage, the owner and in some cases the full car details. But worth checking for your car.


For the Kithead Trust to check their archive they will need the registration number of the car, a cheque for £10 and a stamped addressed envelope.  Then,
o   If they don’t have records for your registration, they will return the cheque and, if they can, point you in the direction of those who can help.
o   If they believe they have records, they will undertake a search and one of the following will happen.
    §  They will search and find nothing, and you will have to pay for the search
    §  They will search and return copies of the information they have.
 
I have asked them to search for a number of registrations and have either had the cheque returned or some information.
Douglas Alderson DA7C