Skip to main content

Ok, so you sold your first or favorite car because, well, life happens. Now that you’re in different circumstances, you want to find a Ford Mustang or BMW 3 Series you used to own and add it to your collection. No problem; You can use these tips to find a car and offer to get it back into your ownership. 

  • Use a Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) lookup tool
  • Reach out to the buyer if you engaged in a private sale
  • Don’t be afraid to ask dealerships and consignments
  • Consult the community surrounding your car

A contributor at Hemmings reports that he found his 1969 Pontiac GTO “Judge” after 23 years of separation. Unfortunately, his story isn’t one of owner and car being reunited, but rather closure. His Judge received a thorough and loving restoration before crossing the auction block at a Scottsdale Barrett-Jackson event. 

While he didn’t get it back, he managed to track it down by performing his own automotive detective work. However, he did find his Pontiac GTO’s VIN through an old registration card. Finding your old car’s VIN is one of the best ways to track it down. If you input your VIN in a lookup tool, you may be able to get details to aid in your search. Getting a person to sell it back is another chore. 

VIN codes can access info about ownership and help people find their cars.
A VIN | welcomia via iStock

What’s more, you can typically find some history since your ownership of the car with a VIN. For instance, you might discover that your old Toyota Celica has been in three accidents with two owners since you sold it. On the other hand, you might find out that your Land Rover has had just one other owner and no accidents. Score. 

If you still have contact information from your buyer, reach out to them. They might still have the vehicle, gifted it, put you in contact with the next buyer, or give you the bad news that it’s been totaled. 

Should you track it down to a dealership post-sale, don’t be afraid to approach sales staff. Sure, they sold the car, but they could give you an idea of where to find the car or ask the buyer if they’d be willing to meet you. 

Finally, online car communities are a good resource for enthusiasts. If you sold your first Porsche 911, you can consult online owner’s clubs. Share your predicament. There’s a chance someone in the community has your old car or knows who owns it. 

Now, if only I could track down my first motorcycle.