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DavidZ
Hagerty Employee

5 tips for identifying the mystery car in that old photo

Positively identifying a car in an old photo is sometimes tough to do. After all, where do you even start? Here are five tips that will hopefully help you identify that vintage ride.

 

Read the full article at Hagerty.com: https://www.hagerty.com/media/hagerty-community/5-tips-for-identifying-the-mystery-car-in-that-old-p...

 

9 REPLIES 9
JeffWeimer
Intermediate Driver

David Burge (@iowahawkblog on twitter) does a Car ID service on weekends. Just tweet your picture with the hashtag #DavesCarIDService and he'll get to it. His specialty is prewar, but will ID anything.

Kyle
Moderator

Awesome! Didn't know that existed. I'll have to scroll though some of his work.
Pepperalls
Detailer

"ask the right group" --Hagerty forum, Hemmings... if you know brand then narrow into the clubs/special interest.

 

Old photos of some eras will give clues outside of the actual image. The obvious is the white-bordered 1950s  (that I have seen) photos that put the date on said border. On the back... Kodak, Fuji, and so on may give a clue (i.e., what font the brand name is in may denote a period of photo paper production).

 

If it is from a family collection, does the family have negatives? Mine does, and the large format ones were all shot on the Brownie Box camera which they only used for a set period of time...

Kyle
Moderator

I struggled with suggesting dating the car by the photo age, since I have a good number of photos of my 1930 Model A Ford that were taken in the '70s. Sometimes it can really help though.
Pepperalls
Detailer

"I struggled with suggesting dating the car by the photo age, since I have a good number of photos of my 1930 Model A Ford that were taken in the '70s. Sometimes it can really help though."            ^for sure.          It depends how much of a detective someone wants to be (and how lucky).    If Uncle Kyle had the model A in the 1970s and frequented the cruise scene in local town X you now have a lead on a possible body of people that might know stuff. At a finer level, getting a span of pictures over years can help trace the originality/customization trail of your car. Lot of Day 2 Vettes have been returned to factory specs for example.

audiobycarmine
Instructor

Pepperalls: excellent suggestions! I would also mention the backs of photos of a certain era... they might have the name of the developing lab/studio, where a Google search might yield info on the time-period. 

HASCpres2019
Intermediate Driver

The Antique Automobile Club of America (AACA) Forum has a section for just that and a body of expert members that have rarely been stumped. 

millbuna
Pit Crew

The folks at 'The Old Motor' are rarely stumped as well

P1st
New Driver

Sometime the license plate can be a clue as to the vintage of the car or the photo.  For example, in California. a new plate was issued each year fro 1914 up into the 1940's.  ID the plate and you know when the picture was taken.