Researching The History of Your Mustang
Fun and informative research
Ford History 999 ReportYou can also order a free History 999 Report for '67 and later Mustangs from Ford's Customer Assistance Center at 16800 Executive Plaza Drive, P.O. Box 6248, Dearborn, MI 48121 USA. In the U.S., call 800/392-3673. In Canada, call 1800/565-3673. Outside the U.S. or Canada, contact Ford Worldwide Direct Market Operations, 1555 Fairlane Drive, Allen Park, Michigan 48101; 313/594-4857. You can also go to www.ford.com for your History 999 Report. Although the 999 report is free, it doesn't contain as much information as a Marti Report.
Title Search A title search is an owner history from the motor vehicle bureau--normally photocopies of titles going back to when your Mustang was first registered in your state. It also includes a copy of the title from the state your Mustang was transferred from if applicable, which enables you to contact that state for additional owner history. Title searches have always been available to enthusiasts interested in knowing more about their Mustang's past. Cost is minimal, especially if you wind up with an in-depth title history.
At one time, it was easy to get a title history because motor vehicle records were kept for decades by most state motor vehicle bureaus. However, budget cuts, privacy laws, and dwindling storage space has forced many states to purge files, so records don't go back as far as they once did. California, as an example, goes back only three years. Texas can search seven years. States that don't purge information sometimes place it in permanent storage that becomes harder to access. Some states don't require a motor vehicle title, which means there may be no record of your Mustang's owner history aside from the current registration.
Title histories are available from a number of sources, including state motor vehicle bureaus. Be cautious of websites offering motor vehicle histories because not all will provide great detail. The National Motor Vehicle Title Information System looks official, however, it refers you to any number of websites that charge a fee for a brief report offering very little history about your Mustang aside from its current registration. Most of these histories address whether or not your car has been totaled, scrapped, or stolen, but no real owner history, which is what you really want from a title search. In each of the websites we checked, classic Mustang 11-character VINs could not be found because these websites cater only to 17-character VINs used from 1980-present. That works if you're researching your '88 Mustang GT, but doesn't help classics prior to 1980.
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For the sake of experimentation, we decided to punch bogus VINs into one of these websites to see what would happen. We were promised a motor vehicle history report once credit card information was entered. How do you produce a motor vehicle history from a vehicle that doesn't exist?
Each state has its own approach to motor vehicle title histories and searches. And though there are many ways to conduct a vehicle history search via the Internet and dozens of websites, the best advice we can offer is to start with your state motor vehicle bureau's website. You can also go to a full-service state motor vehicle office and do it in person.
Once you have a basic title history in hand, you have the foundation for your investigation. If your title search dates back a limited number of years, ask your motor vehicle bureau if they keep permanent records dating back to when your Mustang first entered the state. And if records are available, ask about the cost to dig them up. Most states charge reasonable fees for in-depth title searches. Some states won't do a deep history unless there's a solid legal reason why you're asking for it. Just because you want it doesn't mean you're going to get it.