Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) Review
This article will explore vehicle identification numbers related to the body of a vehicle. The VIN reference goes beyond just the number on the metal tag on the fire wall, "A"pillar or dash frame. There are 'hidden" numbers stamped on at least two location in which a partial VIN or sequence order (S.O.) is stamped on a vehicle body. There are also reference numbers on your engine and transmission that tie those components to the VIN starting in 1968 that we will cover in future articles. We have seen some variations to the specific location, clarity of characters/numbers and even transposed characters/numbers but those cases are very rare and should be carefully reviewed. If the hidden VIN/S.O. is not where it should be located then this is a reason to be concerned and consult the advice of an expert in this area. One of the best pieces of advices that I could ever give to buying a classic muscle car is to invest in high quality resource materials or contact a reputable expert so you can crack the code on Vehicle Identification Numbers (VIN) to make sure that you are not getting scammed.
History of Vehicle Identification Numbers (VIN)
In the 1930s, 1940s and most of the 1950s, Dodge, Plymouth and Chrysler vehicles were shipped with three different numbers: A serial number, an engine number and a body number.It seems that Chrysler used the serial number as the way of tracking the car. From this point of view you would consider the serial number to be the "VIN". In the "serial number era" there is no information about engine, wheel base, paint, trim or body style embedded in the number. However there was a separate series of numbers for each manufacturing plant and engineering code for the car.
In the mid 1950s, American automobile manufacturers began stamping and casting identifying numbers on cars and their parts. . Research has shown that early VIN's came in all sorts of variations, depending on the car manufacturer.
In the early 1980s, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration began requiring that all road vehicles (cars, trucks, motorcycles, mopeds etc...) contain a 17-character VIN. This established the fixed VIN system for major vehicle manufacturers as it is known today for each unique vehicle that is manufactured. The Vehicle Identification Number was "officially" described in ISO Standard 3779 in February 1977 and last revised in 1983.
Vehicle Identification Reference Information.
The following are the key items to check on a vehicle to ensure that a vehicle that you have or reviewing is as represented.
- The first item to check is the V.I.N. of the vehicle against the title or in some states the registration.
- The second item to check is the trim (fender) option tag against the body codes.
- The next item to check is the fender tag against the S.O. number or the V.I.N. in the "hidden numbers" locations on the body. You will find these numbers in different locations depending on the model year and body platform. Hidden stamped numbers in different places on the car was added as another step in preventing and identifying a stolen car. Because it is fairly easy to remove and swap out the VIN tag on the dash, the hidden VIN's provided a back-up system of check and balances.
Vehicle specific body VIN locations
- 1965-68 : Have the S.O. number on the upper portion of the driver's side radiator core support.
- 1966-67: Also have it on the driver's side rear body cross member in which the bumper support bolts.
- 1968 A bodies: Have the S.O. number on the upper portion of the driver's side radiator core support and trunk opening lipunder the weather stripping.
- 1968: Have it stamped on the driver's side trunk opening lip under the weather stripping.
- 1969 and newer: Have the V.I.N. stamped on the driver's side upper portion of the radiator core support.
- 1969 and newer B bodies: Have it stamped on the driver's side trunk opening lip under the weather strip.
- 1969 A bodies: Have the VIN on the upper portion of the driver's side radiator core support and trunk opening lip under the weather strip.
- 1970 E bodies: Have it stamped on the driver's side cowl near the vent cover and will NOT have it on the driver's side trunk opening lip under the weather strip.
- 1970 -74 A bodies all Dusters, Demons and Dart sports (fast backs): Have the VIN on the upper portion of the driver's side radiator core support package tray near speaker opening.
- 1975-76 A bodies: Have the VIN on the upper portion of the driver's side radiator core support and trunk opening lip under the rubber weather strip on the left side .
Online VIN Decoders To Help You
If you are looking to have your VIN "decoded" for you, there are several resources on the Internet that can be of assistance. By knowing your VIN, these resources can tell you some very specific information about your car that can help you in your search.
As always comments are welcome if we can be of any assistance to you with your vehicle please contact us. MMC/ICCA Detroit can be contacted directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.