VIN & Body Plate Decoding

VIN and Body Number Plate Decoding First Series Toronado ('66 - '70) by Doug Kitchener

One of the _most_ frequently asked "FAQs" about these cars concerns the reading of serial numbers and body data plate information. The numbers here are actually easy to decipher. First we'll look at the car serial number (vehicle identification number, or VIN). For models 1966 and '67, the serial number is located on the car body, on a plate which is riveted to the front of the driver's side door pillar. Beginning with model year 1968, the serial number was relocated to the cowl. It can be viewed through the windshield by looking at the top of the dashboard from the driver's side of the car. The format for serial numbers of all GM cars from 1964 through 1971 is similar. A typical Toronado serial number would be 394876M123456, which breaks down as follows:

First Digit (3) is the GM car line; Olds is 3. (Chevy=1, Pontiac=2, Olds=3, Buick=4, Cadillac=6, Canadian Pontiacs=7. (I suspect that GMC Truck is 6).

Second and third digits are series or model within the car line, and fourth and fifth digits are the body type. Therefore, a GM car of this vintage can be specifically identified by these five digits. Sometimes the car line designation, or first digit, is dropped in GM publications. For example, in Olds service publications, Toronados may be referred to as 9400 series, dropping the "3" for Oldsmobile. For 1966 and '67, Toronados are 9400s, and Toronado Deluxes are 9600s. I'm not certain at this time if these separate designations were continued _in the car's serial number_ for 1968, '69 and '70; I'm currently researching this and expect to have the answer soon; the information here will be updated at that time. Of course, all 1966-'70 Toronados were the same body type, which the Fisher Body division referred to as a "2 Door Plain-Back Hardtop Coupe". The number assigned to this body style was 87, so all '66-'70 Toronados are 39487s, Toronado Deluxes are 39687s, subject to the caveat above. (Incidentally, the difference between a Deluxe and a base Toronado was the level of interior trim and type of seats, particularly front. Generally speaking, the base car had a conventional full- width front seat with folding backrests, and the Deluxe car had the "Strato- Bench" style seat with a fold-down center armrest.)

The sixth number is the last digit of the model year, ie 6='66, 7='67, 8='68, 9='69, 0='70, and 1='71.

The seventh position of the VIN is the assembly plant code letter. Since the final assembly point for all first-series Toronados was Lansing Michigan, all will have the letter "M" in the seventh position of the VIN.

The last six digits are the sequential number of the car. I'm verifying this also, but the information I have indicates that Toronado sequential numbers seem to have started with 500001 (1966), 600001 ('67-'70) or 700001 ('71-'78) (depending on model year) as opposed to most other car lines which began with 100001.

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Body Data Plate Numbering The body data plate is located on the cowl or firewall underneath the hood. It will look something like this:

                    ______________________________________
                    |           BODY BY FISHER           |
                    |    ST 70  39487  EUC 123456  BDY   |
                    |    TR ####             ## ## PNT   |
                    |       ##_                          |
                    |                                    |
                    |    GENERAL MOTORS CORPORATION      |
                    |  CERTIFIES TO THE DEALER THAT THIS |
                    | VEHICLE CONFORMS TO ALL US FEDERAL |
                    |   MOTOR VEHICLE SAFETY STANDARDS   |
                    |  APPLICABLE AT TIME OF MANUFACTURE |
                    --------------------------------------
      
Reading across the top line, ST stands for Style or Style Trim. The next two digits are the car year, the following 5 are the GM division, series or model number and body style as discussed above. "EUC" is the code for the Toronado ("E" Body) assembly plant; all Toronado bodies through at least 1971 were built in this plant. The next six digits are the _body number_, which does _not_ correspond to the vehicle serial number (VIN). And the abbreviation BDY refers to the body number. Second line: TR stands for trim; following that will be a two, three, or four-digit code number which tells the color and type of soft trim and upholstery used in the car.

The fields on the right side of the second line are the lower and upper body paint and/or fabric colors (ie for two-tones, or vinyl or convertible tops), reading left-to-right. Paint color codes were usually two-digit numbers, and vinyl (or convertible) top color codes were usually one letter. A two-tone car (not generally applicable on first-series Toronados) will have two two-digit numbers in this area. A vinyl-top car (or convertible) will have a two-digit paint code number and a letter, ie 57 B. A single-color car may have either one or two two-digit numbers, depending on model year; if two numbers, they will, of course, be the same number, ie 10 10. Occasionally, vehicles with "special order" paint may be blank, or show asterisks (*) in this area.

The three digit field on the third line is the Build Date Code, which tells the month and week that the _body_ was assembled.* This code consists of one or two numbers and a letter. The numbers represent the month of model year of production from August (8, or 08) through July (7 or 07). (Some Fisher Body plants appear to have used leading zeros, and some not. Plants were usually shut down for model-year changeover during the last two weeks of July and the first two weeks of August. Model year production usually ran from about the middle of August of the preceding year through the middle of the following July, ie 1968 model production began in August of '67 and ended in July of '68.)

The letters A through E were used to indicate the first through fifth weeks of the month. The month code changed on the first of the month, irrespective of what day of the week it was. Thus, if in a particular year, the 31st of March fell on a Thursday, a body assembled on that day would carry a build date code of 03E or 3E. A body assembled the next day, Friday April 1, would have a code of 4A or 04A.

*Ordinarily, GM bodies were built up in a Fisher Body plant, and then sent to a final assembly plant to become complete cars. Body assembly included the actual fabrication and welding of the body sheet metal, fitting of doors and decklid or tailgate, painting, and partial installation of interior trim including seats, instrument panel, headliner and fixed glass. Final assembly would be buildup of chassis including drivetrain, mating of chassis and body, and installation of front-end sheetmetal (hood and fenders) and bumpers. Although plants were often adjacent to each other on the same property, this was not always true. In fact, in some years, Toronado _bodies_ were actually built somewhere in Ohio and shipped to Lansing for final assembly.

Submitted by: Doug Kictchener

February 17, 1997