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How to Document your Car

Documenting your classic car is an important part which is often neglected and the last thing to do in a seemingly endless list of to-dos. According to the CEO of The Motor Chain, a poorly or not documented car will affect its value and trustworthiness and can lead to a 10 - 20% price decrease on the market. A well-documented car will also make life easier when selling it. There are over 450'000 cars sold with fake mileage. Consistent documentation will prevent fraud. Documentation helps with the decision if the seller can be trusted and if the car is legit. But it's not just important when buying or selling a car. Documentation also preserves the history of a car. This is especially true with historical, vintage and classic cars where we are just custodians. If we take good care of them they will hopefully outlive us. We are part of its history which should be honoured by diligent documentation.

Log Book Fuel Consumption
Logging fuel consumption and mileage in a Log Book

The 4 Levels of Trust

According to The Motor Chain, a digital car documentation management system, there are 4 levels of trust when documenting a car:

  1. The car has been documented by owners AND third parties with supporting evidence

  2. The car has been documented by owners with supporting evidence

  3. The car has been documented by owners with no supporting evidence

  4. There is no documentation

Garage WHS is using a digital documentation system
Garage WHS is using a digital documentation system to add supporting evidence

The Most Important Documents

All documents are important but do have different relevance. There are primary documents which identify the car and secondary documents that are produced during the life of the car.

Primary Documents

1st Category: These are original documents from the manufacturer, or an authorised seller of the car when it was new. They are original and cannot be duplicated. This includes information that was stamped or affixed to the vehicle by the manufacturer when it was new, for example, the VIN or chassis number. 2nd Category: Documentation from a recognized and trusted source that has access to the original vehicle documents and/or specifications and will formalize this information into a report specific to that vehicle.

Car Documents
Documenting a car with a digital app

Secondary Documentation

These documents might include previous titles or registrations, maintenance and repair receipts, inspection receipts, maintenance logs, period photos, certifications and awards, race logs, appraisal, photo documentation of restorations, and just about anything else that would apply to the car.

DB6 Booklet
DB6 owner with a little booklet for every year since 1966

Remind the Garage to Document

The garage plays a crucial part in the documentation of your classic car. Garages often do not sufficiently document the work and all details of the car. Make sure your garage gives you an official document that contains the following information when work or an inspection was performed: