A pastime of mine since cars become important has been to check-up on the status of old ones online.
Details are limited, but with a registration number you can find out the basic details of a car online, such as if it’s still taxed and MOT-ed, hence you can get a good idea whether or not someone is still enjoying (or enduring) a car once special to you. It’s a bit of a dangerous way to occupy time though, in a different way to spending evenings looking at cars for sale online, (I know, I don’t know how I keep up with such a crazy lifestyle either). My grandad’s old Escort that a man bought to restore in the late ‘90s is on a SORN, a sign it’s not – or at least shouldn’t be – on the road but maybe still alive, resting in a garage somewhere. The Montego that ferried me to rugby matches in far flung Sunday-morning destinations such as Saddleworth when I was a kid – untaxed, unMOT-ed, presumed dead. My dad’s old MG Midget. Well, we thought it was alive. Since the first time I checked on the DVLA website, when I saw the car was both taxed and MOT-ed, I’ve checked back on a yearly basis to make sure it’s still there, that whoever owns it now is keeping it on the road and hopefully looking after it. Then that changed this year. While still taxed, the car hasn’t had its MOT for a while now, prompting me to engage in a state of fear. It’s unlikely the car has fallen into a state of irretrievable disrepair, if that were the case it would be reasonable to assume the owner wouldn’t have taxed it for 12 months right before the MOT was due, which makes theory number two more plausible. It might be for sale. This is dodgy ground for me. It’s a little bit like knowing your bank balance is going to cause panic but checking anyway, it’s something you should never, ever do. I’ve started my search. But this will lead to anguish whichever way it turns out. If I find the car for sale, I will want to buy it there and then. I don’t have the money. Do I get into debt or go through the heartache of selling a car (I hate selling cars) to raise the money? Will it be in a sorry state, or perhaps worse, will it be in such good condition it no longer resembles to rough-round-the-edges but solid car my dad owned? Then there’s the other outcome – and it’s unthinkable. It would make me feel the same way my dad felt when he punched in the details for his first MGB and found someone had changed the colour (sacrilege). It might have bitten the dust. And it would be hard to find out for sure – you need a very good reason to get a car keeper’s details from the DVLA, like wanting to issue a parking fine – wanting to enquire on a car’s health isn’t good enough reason. So where to we go from here? I’ll probably continue my search for a while, and do the occasional check-up to see if the Midget has since had its MOT, and until then, wrestle with the thought of whether I want to find it or not.