Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) and Cowl Tag Decoding

©2014, Full-Size Chevrolet Research Group
Edited by Warren Leunig
Version: Monday, 11-Aug-2014 03:21:20 EDT

VIN Information

  1. Vehicle Identification Number (VIN)
  2. Body Style Number
  3. 1964-1966 Canadian VIN Format
  4. Partial VIN Definition and Location

Cowl Tag Information

  1. Cowl Tag Decode
  2. Plant Code Chart
  3. Paint
  4. Interior
  5. Fisher Body Accessory Codes

Vehicle Identification Number (VIN)

The Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) for the fullsize Chevrolets built in the United States had 4 components – the model year, the body style, the assembly plant designation, and sequential serial number. 1964-1966 Canadian VIN’s had a different format, see Canadian. The VIN number plate can be found on 1964-1967 Chevrolets by looking at the A-pillar in the front door jamb. Starting in 1968, it was moved to the driver’s side dash panel and can be seen by looking through the windshield.

Up through 1964, the VIN number was 12 characters. This early format had the model year at the front followed by the body style, assembly plant designation and sequential serial number. Starting in 65, it changed to 13 characters. The only change was that the body style was now in front followed by the model year.

The year is identified by the last numeral in that year so 4=1964, 7=1967, 0=1970, etc.

Body Style Number

The body style number consists of three parts. The first part is always 1 to designate Chevrolet, 2nd for the series and 3rd for the specific body style. An odd third digit designates a 6 cyl. engine, while an even number designates an 8 cyl.

There were quite a few body style codes used from 1964-1970 due to the wide array of models available such as the Impala, Bel Air, Biscayne and Caprice. The Impala Super Sports even had their own body style code from 1964-1967. All body style codes in 1964 were four digits, which were changed to five for the 1965 model year. The basic format remained the same though.  In addition, the body style number also appears on the cowl tag, typically in a V8 format.

Sample 1964 body style breakdown – 1569
(1) Chevrolet
(5) Bel Air series (6-cyl)
(69) Four door sedan

Sample 1969 body style breakdown – 16639
(1) Chevrolet
(66) Caprice series (8-cyl)
(39) Four door sport sedan

Here is a chart showing all the body style numbers for each of the years. The majority of the assembly plants showed an 8 cyl. body style on the cowl tag, regardless of the engine size. However, some plants showed a 6 cyl. designation if the car was to have such an engine. When trying to figure out if your car had an L6 or V8, always go by the VIN number.

Here is a chart of VIN number assembly plant codes. Plant years in parenthesis

website page 1 assy plant vin chart

The last six digits of the VIN# are the sequential serial number. All assembly plants started at 100001 except in 1969. Number 2 would be 100002, etc. To find out your sequence number, you can subtract 100,000 from it. In 1969, all assembly plants except for Janesville and Lordstown start the sequence at 000001.

Sample 1964 VIN number decode – 41169S207810
(4) 1964
(1169) Biscayne 4-door sedan – 6 cyl. engine
(S) St Louis, MO assembly plant
(207810) 107,810th fullsize Chevrolet built at St. Louis, MO

Sample 1965-1970 VIN number decode – 164878J206840
(8) 1968
(16487) Impala 2-door sport coupe – 8 cyl. engine
(J) Janesville, WI assembly plant
(206840) 106,840th fullsize Chevrolet built at Janesville, WI

1964-1966 Canadian VIN Format

Before 1967, the Canadian VIN format was different than what was used in the U.S.  It started with the year followed by the body number and the sequential serial number.  No plant code was used.  The last six started at 000001.

Sample 1964-1966 Canadian VIN number decode – 516469012345
(5) 1965 (16469) Impala 4-door sedan
(012345) 12,345th fullsize Chevrolet built at Oshawa, Ontario

Partial VIN Definition and Location

In addition to the VIN plate, the partial VIN of the car was sometimes stamped on the body in up to two places.  Starting in 1967, the partial VIN was stamped on the top of the cowl (under the cowl vent panel) or on the firewall around the opening that would be covered by the heater or air conditioning box.

Cowl Tag Decode

The cowl tag is an aluminum tag attached to the firewall of the body. It contains interesting information pertaining to the body of the car such as what week it was built, the paint and interior colors and the options that would have required modifications to the body shell. In 1964, the cowl tag can be found on top of the firewall on the passenger’s side. Starting in 1965, it was moved to the front of the firewall on the driver’s side by the brake booster. The general format of the cowl tag remained the same from 1964-1970 and will be explained below. One exception is the cowl tags of cars built at Oshawa, Ontario (until 1967) and those assembled overseas. Those tags will be covered in a future update.

The body build date tells the month and week the body was produced. The date code starts with a number for the month, followed by a letter for the week. For the month: 01 = January, 05 = May, 09 = September and 12 = December, etc. For the week: A = 1st week of the month, B = 2nd, C = 3rd, D=4th and E=5th. In a few cases, the build date might vary such as the week being identified with a number. In 69, the location changed from the top line to under the interior code.

The top line can contain more information depending on the assembly plant. Some plants put a sequence number next to the date code or above the body number. The sequence number was used in the body plant for scheduling the shells to come down the line in order. A single letter can sometimes be found in this location as well, which usually identifies the interior paint code. That code can also be found on the protectoplate. During 1964 and 1965, the Euclid, OH plant, which produced convertible and wagon bodies for final assembly at Flint, MI stamped an F in that location. It is to denote the Flint plant and is not for the interior color.

2nd Line

The 2nd line (1st in 69/70) contains the year, body style number and assembly plant info. The year precedes the body style such as 64, 67, 70, etc. For information on decoding the body style, see the chart in the VIN number section. The body style on the cowl tag is typically in a V8 format, even if the car came with an L6 engine.  Some plants however, did stamp a L6 body style on the cowl tag if it was to be assembled with that engine.   In most cases, the assembly plant code is followed by either the sequential body number or the order confirmation number found on factory paperwork like the window sticker.

Plant Code Chart

Notes:

  • Oshawa starting using OS in 1967.  In previous years there was no plant designation on the cowl tag.
  • Euclid produced convertible and station wagon bodies for the Flint plant in 1964 and 1965.
  • The plant code for Los Angeles/Van Nuys changed mid-year in 1969 from LOS to VN.


3rd Line

Paint

The paint code can consist of letters, numbers or both. It varied by year. It was a three digit number up to 1965 when it became a letter. It returned to a number in 1969. The numerical code is listed in parenthesis next to the paint name. Note: Wilmington put the color of the wheels as a third letter (or 2nd on convertibles) in the paint code for 1965.

website paint code list

Two-tone Paint Codes

The typical two-tone paint code was a combination of two of the available paint codes as suggested by Chevrolet. In 1964, the paint code was a single three digit number between 952 and 995.

952 – Meadow Green/ Bahama Green
954 – Meadow Green/ Ermine White
959 – Silver Blue/ Ermine White
960 – Silver Blue/ Daytona Blue
965 – Lagoon Aqua/ Ermine White
971 – Desert Beige/ Saddle Tan
975 – Ember Red/ Desert Beige
982 – Satin Silver/ Daytona Blue
988 – Ermine White/ Azure Aqua
993 – Palomar Red/ Desert Beige
995 – Palomar Red/ Satin Silver

Convertible and Vinyl Tops

The convertible and vinyl top codes appear after the paint code and sometimes after the interior code. A number was used up to 69 when they changed to a letter.

In 67, the tan vinyl top color became light fawn instead of beige.

Interior

The interior code is a three digit number that shows the color, fabric type and style of the seats. A single letter or number can follow it. The Wilmington, DE assembly plant listed the interior paint code after it 1964-1968. Some plants listed the top (vinyl or convertible) color in this location with a number and some other assembly plants used a letter in 1966 and 1967 to signify the front seat type and whether it had headrests.

See the below interior charts for your year.

1964FawnAquaRedGreenBlueBlackSaddleSilverWhite/AquaWhite/Red
Biscayne
[wagon]
860 [861]852 [855]876 [877]  x   x   x   x   x   x   x
Belair863850872823839   x   x   x   x   x
Impala cloth866853874826842811857   x   x   x
Impala vinyl870847886829836814859   x   x   x
Impala Super Sport - bucket seats856   x879n/a831815862805845878

Note for 1964: Biscayne sedan interiors were cloth except for the 865 fawn fleet-type vinyl.  Wagons got vinyl interiors.

1965FawnAquaRedGreenBlueBlackSaddleWhite/AquaWhite/BlackSlate
Biscayne
[wagon]
860 [861]852 [855]876 [877]  x  x  x   x   x   x   x
Belair863850872823839   x   x   x   x   x
Impala cloth866853874826842811857   x  x   x
Impala vinyl870847886829836814859   x   x   x
Impala Super Sport - bucket seats856845879   x831815862845802805
Caprice858   x   x   x843817   x   x   x   x

Note for 1965: Biscayne sedan interiors were cloth except for the 865 fawn fleet-type vinyl.  Wagons got vinyl interiors.

1966FawnTurquoiseRedGreenBlueBlackIvoryBright BlueBronze
Biscayne
[wagon]
860 [861]   x876 [877]   x840 [832]   x   x   x   x
Belair
[wagon]
863 [867]850
[854]
872 [878]   x839 [833]   x   x   x   x
Impala cloth866853874826842811   x   x   x
Impala (all) & Caprice wagon (vinyl)870/859847871830836814   x   x   x
Impala Super Sport - bucket seats869/862846873   x837813885844   x
Caprice
(strato-bench in parenthesis)
857 (868)   x   x   x843 (834)817 (818)   x   x   x
Caprice - bucket seats856848879   x831815   x   x891

Note for 1966: Biscayne and Belair sedan interiors were cloth except for the 865 fawn fleet-type vinyl.  Wagons got vinyl interiors.  The 869 SS interior became 862 in January of 1966.

1967FawnTurquoiseRedGoldBlueBlackWhiteBright BluePlum
Biscayne
[wagon]
801 [802]   x   x   x840 [832]812 [812]   x   x   x
Belair
[wagon]
803 [804]850
[854]
  x   x839 [833]819 [820]   x   x   x
Impala cloth   x853874 (Maroon)888842811   x   x   x
Impala (all) & Caprice wagon (vinyl)   x847871889836814894845   x
Impala Super Sport - bucket seats (strato-bench in parenthesis)   x   x873 (870)890 (885)   x813 (810)895 (898)844 (848)   x
Caprice   x   x   x887843817   x   x860
Caprice strato-bench
[vinyl in brackets]
  x   x   x886 [884]834 [835]818 [821]   x   x862
Caprice - bucket seats   x   x   x891837815   x   x   x

Note for 1967: Biscayne and belair sedan interiors were cloth except for the 865 fawn fleet-type vinyl.  Wagons got vinyl interiors.  The 812 black vinyl interior was available in both sedans and wagons.

1968Saddle (wagon only)TurquoiseRedGoldBlueBlackParchmentTealGray/Green
Biscayne837   x   x831816
[817-wagon]
802   x   x   x
Belair
[wagon]

[838]
843
[844]
  x832818
[819]
803, 811 [804]   x   x   x
Impala cloth   x842   x833820805   x   x853
Impala (all) & Caprice wagon (vinyl)839845 [wagon]866830821806858864   x
Impala Super Sport bucket seats   x   x868836   x812859862   x
Caprice
[vinyl in brackets]
  x   x   x834822
[815]
807
[814]
  x   x852
Caprice strato-bench   x   x   x835823808   x   x856
Caprice - bucket seats   x   x   x840824809   x   x857

Note for 1968: The 802 black vinyl interior was available in both Biscayne sedans and wagons.  Black and blue vinyl interiors were available in all Belairs but wagons had a different code (804) for black than sedans (811).

1969Saddle (wagon only)TurquoiseRedGoldMed. BlueDark BlueBlackParchmentMed. GreenDark Green
Biscayne/Brookwood831   x   x   x816 [815 wagon]   x802   x849 (Biscayne)   x
Belair/Townsman
[vinyl in parenthesis]
838   x   x   x818 (819)   x803, (804)   x850
[851 wagon]
848
Impala cloth   x844   x837   x820805   x852860
Impala (all) & Kingswood wagon (vinyl)(830)   x866   x   x821806858853861
Impala bucket seats   x   x867   x   x   x812859854   x
Caprice (knit in parenthesis)   x846   x840822(826)807 (813)   x856(855)
Caprice - bucket seats   x   x   x   x   x824809   x862857

Note for 1969: The 808 black Caprice interior was the only strato-bench seat available for 1969

1970SaddleTurquoiseRedGoldMed. BlueDark BlueBlackSandalwoodDark Green
Biscayne and Brookwood831   x   x843 (Biscayne)815   x802   x   x
Belair
[Townsman]
[838]   x   x   x818 [819]   x803, 804 [804]   x848
Impala cloth   x844   x837820   x805   x860
Impala (all) & Kingswood wagon (vinyl)830   x866841821   x806828861
Caprice   x845   x840822826813870855

On some assembly plants (except Wilmington, DE) in 1966 and 1967, a letter was used after the interior code to indicate the front seat type.

  • A – Bench seat
  • B – Bucket seats
  • D – Strato-bench seat
  • E – Bench seat with headrests
  • L – Strato-bench seat with headrests
  • S – Bucket seats with headrests


Accessory Codes

Below is a table of Fisher Body codes for the 1964-1967 Fullsize Chevrolets.  There is no known factory documentation that lists every code so most of these were confirmed by comparing original cars to the codes on the tag.  If you have seen any not on this list or can help confirm any, please contact us.




If you have any data to contribute to the research of these accessory codes, we would love to see it!  In addition to these codes, some plants used the full RPO code on the cowl tag.  You can find most of these in the above charts but there are a few you won’t see there.

M11 – 3spd manual transmission on the column (if optional transmission not ordered)

B80 – Roof drip molding

B90 – Door window frame moldings

C08 – Vinyl top

11 comments for “Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) and Cowl Tag Decoding

  1. Ken
    October 1, 2018 at 8:42 am

    Hi, great site. How can I tell if a 68 impala convertible i am looking to buy is a factory 396 car (I am told dealer installed a replacement block so not able to verfiy block number. it looks original but would like to confirm. data plate does not contain info. also how do you verify what options the car came with since no Accy info is on data plate.
    09L
    68-16467 BC00107
    TR 806 G-2

    • admin
      October 1, 2018 at 7:38 pm

      Couple of things you should check. First what’s the vin? 2nd, does it have the original Turbo 400 transmission?

      Cowl tag shows a Gold 68 Impala convertible with black top and interior built at the Southgate, CA plant in September

  2. Alex Ham
    October 11, 2018 at 3:28 pm

    Hats off! This is a VERY informative site. I suspected my ’66 Caprice of being a 4spd conversion due to the horribly hacked hole in the transmission tunnel. However, your option codes (L) confirm M-20 4spd. Perhaps the Saginaw 4spd in there now required some trimming for the shifter to fit. I’m pleased as punch to learn this information. Keep up the great work.

  3. February 16, 2019 at 12:43 am

    Hi! On a 1965 Impala confirmed SS, there is a 4th line on the Trim/Cowl Tag that states:

    EXO 2KMCK 3C

    Any ideas?
    There’s no info here for a 4th line.
    Thanks for your help.

    • admin
      February 18, 2019 at 9:47 am

      E tinted glass
      X power windows
      O two tone paint (or the car may have a vinyl top in a few cases)
      2K a/c
      2M p/g trans
      3C padded dash

      not sure what the 2CK is. Can’t have the same letter twice in group 2. Maybe it’s something else

  4. joseph f spaziani
    February 23, 2019 at 5:17 pm

    i found the file for the car that i have not looked at since i bought the car in 2005. it contained the original build sheet which shows under fifth group the number 13. the next group is titled F & S -COPO that is where the 185226 is. after reading more of your posts it must be the ident number ,not associated with the vin. do you know anything about the number 13 in group five.

    • admin
      March 4, 2019 at 6:19 pm

      Hi Joe,
      I sent you a email but want to respond here as well in case you don’t get it. I’m not sure what the 13 is but all those Flint seat tags have a number under group 5. I’d love to see pics of that sheet and the vin/cowl tag as I don’t have this car in the SS427 registry!
      Warren

  5. Martin
    March 15, 2019 at 5:27 pm

    thanks for making this web site have done so much research’ however i hit some dead ends. i have a 1966— 16437 V8 car. with a two speed power glide. everything tells me it was a bone stock 66-V8 car but the options on the car is not listed on the tag. like a padded dash/ A/C the wiring harness tells me it was a Cop car or federal car built in LA have any idea?

    • admin
      March 20, 2019 at 6:56 pm

      It may not have been built with any options that were listed on the tag. Built at Los Angeles and not Southgate?

  6. Richard
    March 18, 2019 at 10:07 am

    Hi this is super helpful thanks. I am looking at a right hand drive 307ci 1968 pillarless 4 door Impala here in Nairobi Kenya (East Africa). It was exported from the GM Oshawa, Ontario plant, and has fibreglass dash (not metal) which I think was standard for the RHD. Cowl tag style is 68 16439RDEX. I assume “RDEX” means right hand drive for export? Paint code is 9LL which doesn’t match any of the tables I can see? It would be good to know so I can restore to original colour. It also has an accessories code M35 which I think is Powerglide. Trim is 820 (which is Impala cloth I think) followed by 1-1-5, any idea what that means?

    • admin
      March 20, 2019 at 6:58 pm

      LL is Teal Blue. 1-1-5 means body was built 1/5/68 1st shift. If you contact vintage vehicle services, you can request the option info and some other data

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