Yes, you can look on the DVLA website and see if any vehicle has been taxed or not by entering it's reg number. It's a limited amount of info but it's something.
My old GTV became unlicensed in October 2010
I suspect that means it's dead. My old Golf Gti, which I scrapped (and got confirmation of scrapping from DVLA), is also listed as "unlicensed" as of the year I scrapped it.
Well at least the GTV had 3 years of life after I sold it. Dead at 11 years old. Most likely beyond economic repair.
Go to this page and then click the orange "Vehicle Enquiry" link on the left hand side: