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Looking an old car I used to own

Hi everyone…I just joined today and have been listening to Car Talk for many years. I’ve been meaning to tackle this project for a while, but never got around to it.

Nineteen years ago I purchased a 1995 Jeep Cherokee and as part of the purchase, traded in my 1984 VW Scirocco. The car I inherited from my grandfather when he passed away in 1993. I loved the car, but traded it in after it suffered a broken axle. For the past few years I have really regretted this and have been sort of imagining getting the vehicle back and fixing it up. The only thing is, I imagine it’s been trashed for scrap. But, I would like to somehow confirm this. I would of course be elated if it went to some loving family that fixed it up, but…

So, I will try to first contact the dealer that I purchased the Jeep from and also follow this post for any other suggestions you might have.

If I do find this vehicle, do you think a 1984 Scirocco is worth fixing up?

Thanks in advance for any help you might be able to provide…

Dont let sentimentality get in the way of practicality,if you are rich fine,then go for it.You can very likely trace the car,but there must be something you hold dear thats a little easier to take care of and treasure from your Grandfather,I miss my Grandfather too,but I have memories a plenty.
Bless you-Kevin

I understand your point. But, I thought it would be a fun project if it actually still exists. If by some miracle it does exist does it make sense to fix it up?

It’s likely your car lives on in sheet metal, bits of other cars, etc. It’s extremely unlikely that a car that wasn’t any kind of collector item back then and had a broken axle wasn’t scrapped unless it was perfect inside and out otherwise. If you’re that nostalgic, you might scour ebay for another Scirocco.

But since the original is likely long since gone and there’s no direct connection with the heirloom you received, you’d probably be better off driving VW’s current lineup and finding one you like. That way you’ll get a car that’s descended from your old Scirocco and probably has a lot of the same feel to it, but with modern reliability, safety, power, and conveniences.

If you can find a document with the VW’s vin # you can run a CarFax or one of their competitors reports and that may turn up some information. Even if service and collision info isn’t included these services usually show where a car is titled, registered, and dates of state DMV inspections. It could tell you if the car is still on the road and an idea of where it is now. If the car is in So. CA, TX, or FL it might not be too rusted out yet.

Thanks everyone for the comments. I’ll try to locate some documentation on it for the VIN #. Does it make sense to call the dealer I purchased the Jeep from or would I just be embarrassing myself?

I'll try to locate some documentation on it for the VIN #. Does it make sense to call the dealer I purchased the Jeep from or would I just be embarrassing myself?

You’d be embarrassing yourself. They won’t have that information.

And it’s highly unlikely Carfax will have it either. This is even worse then finding a needle in a haystack.

If you don’t think it was ever registered out of state, maybe the BMV could give you some history on that VIN. (for a fee)

Fight the urge. It’s a dreadful car by today’s standards. You have memories. The older they are the better they were.I got rid of all my old cars for a reason…you did too. Move on.

@steph746…if you have any law enforcement people in your family you might ask them to run a check of the VIN # if you can find it. I located a truck that my father had sold years ago by using a little family connection…the county court clerk. She found it quite easily since it was still registered but the owner wanted too much money for it. He completely restored the '55 F100 and it was no longer the “beater” that my dad used to drive. I don’t think an '83 Scirroco is a good candidate for restoration as others have stated previously.

Those Sciroccos were pretty peppy drivers and I understand your desire to have the car back, but odds are is that the car has been crushed, pieced out, or possibly sitting in someone’s backyard untitled and forgotten.

Dealers and state DMVs are generally pretty close-mouthed about doling out info on prior owners; with the former protecting the privacy of their customers and the latter being under a statute to withhold information.

The dealer might be worth a shot if you want to pursue this if they’re still around and you can provide the VIN. A call could be made by the dealer to the buyer of the VW if still around the ball gets rolling from there. You never know.

Back in the mid 70s I owned a '69 Dodge Superbee which I eventually traded. About 10 years ago I’m n town and see a trailered 'Bee that had apparently been to the drag races. The owner was off somewhere for lunch and a close look convinced me to about the 99th percentile that the car was my old one. There weren’t too many made in Spring Green with black vinyl roofs anyway and this one still had what looked to be the old Hurst T-handle gear lever that I had added decades ago.
Pretty sentimental over that one… (sniffle…) :frowning:

@Steph,well welcome to the Car Talk community,some great Folks here, most of the trolls leave.Believe it or not there are some very patient People here ,seldom condecending.I too have seldom looked back,missing an old vehicle I once had.But heres to you in your quest,may you find your hearts desire.Grandfather would approve and appreciate your trek,too often we lose our roots and as long as we fondly remember,they are never really away.-Kevin

I don’t believe any of the comments were condescending

You never know. Over on, there was a guy who as a young boy really liked the looks of the Toyota Tercel 4WD wagon (no accounting for taste) and talked his dad into getting one. It served the family for may years, but eventually his father traded it in on something new. when his father passed away suddenly, the young man went looking for another Tercel 4WD wagon that he planned to restore to look like the one his dad had.

He eventually found one that had been sitting in a ravine for a few years that was the correct color. He traced down the owner and bought it. During the registration process, he discovered that it was the actual car that had belonged to his dad and he did restore it.


Didn’t those Tercel 4x4 wagons have SERIOUS rust problems?

Isn’t that, in fact, one of the main reasons that almost none of them are around anymore?

Steph you would be better off buying the same vehicle in incredible condition rather than looking for the old one. It will make no difference once you drive it, it will be the car you remember without the headaches of trying to put one back together, just because you once owned it. PS my psychic response is if he knew at the time you would be getting it he would have bought a better car.

@db,never said I referring to this post and from time to time you find some condescension on this forum-Kevin



db, yes they did and rust is the primary reason for their attrition. The suspension was hung from various sheet metal points in the car and when that sheet metal rusted away, the car became unsafe to drive and could not be repaired. However, most of these cars were sold in the rust belt but there are a lot of survivors from the southwest and northwest where there wasn’t much salt used. Skiers liked them for the occasional trip to the mountains so they didn’t see all that much snow and ice in their lifetimes.

The car in question if I recall correctly was found in New Mexico or Arizona, but was originally a California car.

Don’t call the dealer, the kids working there now probably were born way after the built year of that VW.

I had free access to carfax at some point in time and since I save some documents on the cars I sell (as proof that I do NOT own them anymore), I tried and tracked them all down through carfax. Unfortunately in my case, all cars were junked. Not that I wanted to buy them back, but since when I was selling them, I felt they are not worth fixing up any more, I wanted to see if my assessment was correct (I sold them all with full disclosure).

One never got registered-the buyer was very happy, so not sure what made him change his mind. The other had many failed smogs and repairs and eventually deemed not drivable after an accident (bought for a HS kid…). The rest had similar faiths.

I also used to own a 80’s era Passat, was a nice car, I blew the engine, was covered under warranty, but we got rid of it while it was worth something. I tinkered about getting another one a few years later, but the practical side of me swayed me to another direction.

A question to OP. Do you have kids? Lets say your Jeep is getting to be a money trap and you decide to sell it. What would you think if your kids decided to located said Jeep and restore it? Or would you rather be remember by some other way (charity work, pictures, etc). You grandfather probably had the same value beliefs. If you can answer this question, then you have the answer.