Provenance has value

It is very easy to buy a 'Seven' these days, either through the club or from specialist dealers advertising in the magazines.  Unfortunately many cars bought this way have very little documentation with them; usually it will only the most recent V5C Registration Certificate from DVLA naming the last owner.  If you are lucky you may be given a few relevant papers relating to the car, perhaps a few servicing invoices and early MoT certificates but, sadly, so much material will be missing. 

The paperwork issued during the life of the car adds so much to it's history and has some additional value.  The obvious prize possession is the original logbook and all subsequent registration documents that create the trail of ownership.  Tax discs, servicing schedules and invoices for spares, and in recent years the annual MoT certificates all add to the record of the car's life.   But this is not easy, and so few people keep every relevant document - none of us ever appreciate the significance of anything at the time and very few things are properly filed for future reference. 

provenance 2Although my Austin Big Seven has been in the family for over 60 years I do not have a full provenance; I know that we did have some items which seem to have disappeared when my Mother, and then I, moved house; sadly the wrong box may have gone to the tip.  I do have the original hand-written receipt when my Grandfather bought the car, along with his first insurance cover note and a subsequent annual insurance premium receipt.  The original Austin Handbook along with the AA Handbook for 1947 and that year's tax disc when he bought the car have survived.  However, the first Registration Book was retained by Kent County Council in 1951 when the hand-stamped spaces for renewal of the tax disc were used up and, as with many County Council Licensing Departments, these documents were destroyed when licensing matters passed to DVLA.   I have managed to retain all Registration Documents since then.

We should all be making the effort to obtain as much provenance as possible when buying a 'Seven' and to retain all other paperwork that adds interest to it's existence - in fact any document that relates directly to the car.   If you were not handed anything with the car - did you think to ask for it?  Is it too late to contact the previous known owner?  

provenance 1It is not too late to start, ever since you bought the car documents have been created so keep them and why not make a written and photographic record of restorative work done and any modifications.   You may wish to include other items that add interest to the history of your 'Seven' such as photographs on club runs, and a few pieces of memorabilia and books.  Then you could create a file, with a digital back-up by scanning the important documents, and ensure that the family are aware that it exists, for their benefit when inheriting the car or when selling it to another enthusiast.


This article, written by Doug Castle, originally appeared in CA7C Seven Focus in Apr 2009 pp25-26.