VIN vs. Cowl Tag Question - Impala Tech
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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old 02-02-2016, 12:08 AM Thread Starter
 
 
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VIN vs. Cowl Tag Question

Hi, I have a '64 Impala SS V8 2 door hardtop, which does have the correct SS VIN (41447S309972), which would be a V8 SS Impala built in St. Louis, but I am confused because the cowl tag has 64-1847 and no SS interior or bucket seat options listed.

Here is the complete cowl tag information:

11C (3rd week November '63)
Style 64-1847 (2 Dr V8 Impala Sport Coupe)
Body FC10895 (Flint, MI Plant)
Trim 857 (Saddle Cloth)
Paint 938 (Desert Beige)
ACC MC (Powerglide, Padded Dash, both of which it does have)

As you can see, the cowl tag gives a much different story than the VIN does.

Besides the style number, the fact that it shows Flint, MI doesn't seem right to me.

Why would they build the body in Flint, and then ship it to St. Louis to be built, when St. Louis had its own body plant?

The Desert Beige does match the body color on the car, or at least one of the previous colors anyway, but the interior is black and does have the SS console and steering column and could not have been cloth if it was an SS.

The front seat(s) were missing, so I do not know exactly what those seats originally were.

The rear seat was a cloth standard Impala seat with the three buttons on the back rest, but no idea whether or not it was stock or changed at some time.

There were no door panels in the car either, so I can't tell anything from that either, but it did have all black rear side panels, kick panels, and headliner and not a single piece of saddle colored interior anywhere like the cowl tag says it should have had also.

Of course, all of the rest of the interior parts could have been changed too, so I don't know how much that helps either.

So, my question basically is, is it even remotely possible for this to be the correct cowl tag for this car?

Or does it sound like someone has changed the cowl tag over the years...although I can't imagine why anyone would change it to a non SS cowl tag when the VIN clearly shows that it is an actual SS.

I thought I read somewhere that the older Impalas could have the 1847 style code on the cowl tag and still be an SS, but I didn't know if this carried over to the '64 year or not, and the lack of SS options on the tag just doesn't add up.

Sorry for such a long post, but I wanted to try to answer all the questions I thought might be asked.

Any ideas or information on this would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks!
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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old 02-02-2016, 07:18 AM
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A body tag from Flint and the VIN from St. Louis does strongly suggest one of them was changed. Cloth was not an option on an SS model.

The floor pan will have the extra seat mounts next to the tunnel for buckets. If they are missing, or appear to be added later, then I would look at the VIN tag having been changed. I don't recall what year GM changed from spot welding to riveting them on the pillar, but there are ways to determine if it is original.

Did you get a title matching the VIN or buy it with a bill of sale ?

'62 Impala SS 409 TH350
'66 Chevelle SS 496 M20
'70 Chevelle SS 396 M20
'67 Camaro ss/rs 350 PG
'38 Chev coupe street rod
'54 Chev 210 2 door
'69 Chev C10
'89 Chev R3500 roll back
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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old 02-02-2016, 07:38 AM
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Sounds like an SS vin tag was swapped onto the body. Can you post pics of both tags?
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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old 02-02-2016, 10:23 AM
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Sorry to hear about your problems. If someone swapped the VIN tag YOU could potentially loose your car. You need to check the three other "hidden" VIN locations such as on the frame under the floor of the trunk on the passenger side to see if it matches.

In Florida any altered VIN cars are seized and returned to owner if reported earlier as stolen and crushed if they are not reported as stolen. This is to discourage the practice of "Rebuilding" a car with a salvaged VIN and to discourage auto theft.

Your state laws may vary but it is still a FEDERAL law violation to tamper with a VIN. (though I doubt if the FBI will be kicking in your door any time soon as they have other maters to distract them).

Big Dave
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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old 02-02-2016, 07:06 PM Thread Starter
 
 
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Yes, I do have a clear title in my name that matches the VIN number, and according to the paperwork that I got with the car, it has been that way through at least the last 3 owners back to the late 2000's.

I am attaching the pictures of the VIN and Cowl tag.

The other strange part is that the cowl tag is the only thing that has red paint on it, but for some reason they only painted the firewall and inside of the front fenders red.

Please let me know what you think after seeing the pics.

Thanks!
Attached Images
File Type: jpg 64 Impala VIN Tag.jpg (7.7 KB, 112 views)
File Type: jpg 64 Impala Cowl Tag.jpg (11.0 KB, 103 views)
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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old 02-02-2016, 07:30 PM
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The pic is small but the VIN appears to be spot welded on. I don't think it has been tampered with.

Just chalk it up to one of the oddities and mistakes made during assembly. There are many cases of this during the 60's, when they were pumping these cars out as fast as they could.

As for the Red paint. Pontiac had a special option on their GTO's with red inner wheel houses that were popular. Your car was probably the recipient of the owners desire to copy that fad back then.

'62 Impala SS 409 TH350
'66 Chevelle SS 496 M20
'70 Chevelle SS 396 M20
'67 Camaro ss/rs 350 PG
'38 Chev coupe street rod
'54 Chev 210 2 door
'69 Chev C10
'89 Chev R3500 roll back
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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old 02-02-2016, 08:22 PM
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Red inner GTO enders were made of light weight plastic. That and a bit of aluminum sheet metal cut down the overall weight of the car. Poncho motors have the same size block for big as they do small displacements; so there is little weight saving other than having a block with eight bigger holes in it with a 455 over a 326. So in the interest of a lighter motor I would have insisted on a 455 instead of the GM limit imposed by the board at stopping at 400 cubes in anything but a full size car.

The VIN is the last piece to go on the car. The VIN tag was installed after final inspection was completed (to verify all of the ordered options were installed, and the car wasn't missing a trunk lid or a motor).

The trim tag was installed by Fisher Body in their plant (usually a building next to the assembly line , but it could have been in another state), and it has no bearing upon how the car actually went together. It was just the game plan as laid out when the car was ordered.

Many times some one may have ordered a six cylinder PG in red with a white top in an SS model, Then comes along some other hot shot sales manager at a big dealership who called up the factory to special order one for a customer loaded with cash. That red SS would be built with a fire breathing 409 and four speed to meet the cash flush customer's desire but the trim tag still says 235 six with PowerGlide. The original customer would be told there was delay in shipping as his order started down the line again.

Most cars were built on spec (ordered by the sales manager based upon what he thinks the public wants.) If you special ordered a car, and were willing to pay more (over full list price) to get it expedited it could be in your hands in ten days instead of the normal six weeks. That is how these cars got pulled and run through as I described it. At least that is how the sales manager at Ferman Chevrolet explained it when I ordered a 375 horse 396 in a Nova SS four speed car in 1970.

I had a 425 horse 427 sitting on a cradle at home waiting for it to arrive as it was to replace the Baldwin Motion Phase III 1968 Camaro that I had destroyed drag racing it. Only problem was my Medium Brown Poly car came in Forest Green. With the saddle interior it grew on me, but I still eventually sold it. I'm not a green person.

Big Dave
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post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old 02-02-2016, 08:24 PM Thread Starter
 
 
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Sorry about the small size of the pics, but I could not get anything other than a cell phone pic, and it won't let me resize it.

If the VIN had been changed though, then they must have done a very good job because it does appear to be spot welded just as it should be.

Also, I just wanted to point out that it's not like I'm trying to sell the car or pass it off as a high dollar SS or anything.

When I got the car, I just made sure that the VIN matched the title, and didn't really know much about the cowl tags or what to look for.

I actually didn't really even know that it was an SS VIN number until I started doing some research to try to figure out what it had originally come out with.

I have ran a few different VIN checks and the VIN comes back clean every time, so I really don't know what else I can do at this point.

I just wanted to see what the consensus was on it, since I didn't want to spend a bunch of money on the car and then find out there was a problem later on.

I appreciate the information and if anyone else has any thoughts, please let me know.
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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old 02-02-2016, 08:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lost in the 60's View Post
The pic is small but the VIN appears to be spot welded on. I don't think it has been tampered with.

Just chalk it up to one of the oddities and mistakes made during assembly. There are many cases of this during the 60's, when they were pumping these cars out as fast as they could.
You really think so?

I personally wouldn't touch it with a ten foot pole. Having conflicting cowl tag/vin.. No thanks.
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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old 02-13-2016, 08:06 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Madencali View Post
You really think so?

I personally wouldn't touch it with a ten foot pole. Having conflicting cowl tag/vin.. No thanks.
The VIN is the important piece and it seems to be original...no crime there.

He has a clean title with the matching number, so it has been in the state and federal check systems for some time and hasn't popped up on any radar as questionable. That's why I asked if he had a title. If all he had was a BOS and it had been passed around for a number of years like that, then it could have been an issue.

The cowl tag was just for the assembly line and after the '67 model year, GM eliminated much of the info that described the options from that as they had build sheets on the line for the workers to reference to. Beyond that, there is no legal need for it or consequence for removing or changing them.

There are many documented cases of wrong info on cowl tags. On the Camaro and Chevelle sites, there has been extensive research into this as the swapping of tags on those models could be highly profitable when they were selling for the price of gold.

'62 Impala SS 409 TH350
'66 Chevelle SS 496 M20
'70 Chevelle SS 396 M20
'67 Camaro ss/rs 350 PG
'38 Chev coupe street rod
'54 Chev 210 2 door
'69 Chev C10
'89 Chev R3500 roll back
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post #11 of 12 (permalink) Old 02-13-2016, 10:47 AM
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And you can buy custom made trim tags to conform to how your car is now, such as the rare 454 optioned 1969 Z/28 Camaro with A/C and Power Steering.

Big Dave
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post #12 of 12 (permalink) Old 02-13-2016, 12:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Big Dave View Post
And you can buy custom made trim tags to conform to how your car is now, such as the rare 454 optioned 1969 Z/28 Camaro with A/C and Power Steering.

Big Dave
And not just any 454, the fabled LS7 with TH400 for those who can't shift...

'62 Impala SS 409 TH350
'66 Chevelle SS 496 M20
'70 Chevelle SS 396 M20
'67 Camaro ss/rs 350 PG
'38 Chev coupe street rod
'54 Chev 210 2 door
'69 Chev C10
'89 Chev R3500 roll back
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