Camaro Model Identification and Numbers Decoding
Q: Where do all these numbers come from?
PART numbers are NOT THE SAME as CASTING numbers.
Part numbers change, while casting numbers are often reused.
Part numbers can change during the model year and be superceded
When in doubt, MEASURE THE PART.
Double check ME. Don't run down to the chevy dealer and order a part without double checking what you're actually ordering.
Q: How does a dealer order a car, or how do I get what I want?
A: We, as Camaro fans know our cars inside and out. We know exactly what is available, and what the hot setups are even before we go into the showroom. The salesman sells cars. All sorts of cars, and probably isn't all that crazy about the Camaro. We probably know more about the car than he does. So, a salesman at the dealership needs to know as much about his product, including how to sell & order the product as he can. Chevrolet sent "Dealer Order Guides" to dealerships to help salesmen figure out how cars could be ordered. These listed car features, color availability, option combinations, etc... they differed from sales brochures in the amount of detail the package contained. The sales brochure said "here's what you can get". The dealer order guide was more for "here's how to get it". After spending a few minutes with this and the order form, you could usually order a car equiped the way you wanted.
If you wished to differ from a recommended or acceptable color combination, you'd need to issue a exterior/interior override.
The other popular way to get what you wanted was the COPO procedure. This usually dealt with hard drivetrain options.
Q: What is an Exterior/Interior Override?
A: This option code (ZP2 in 1977) signifies that a dealer (or customer) overrode a recommended or acceptable color combination. For example, if the customer wanted an orange car with a blue vinal top, they had to use ZP2 to force this color combination.
In the dealer order guides, Chevrolet would list "Recommended" color combinations, and several "acceptable" color combinations. If you wished to differ from that, you needed to order an Exterior/Interior Override. This override required the dealers signature ensuring that this combination was actually being ordered.
In some cases things could be overridden. Sometimes they couldn't be.
Q: This car is supposed to be a Z28 (or SS), how can I tell if it's real or fake?
There are several ways to confirm a Z28, or SS car. A complete write up of this process
is contained here.
Prior to 1972 this process is complicated due to the lack of the engine code being in the VIN.
To confirm a 1972 Z28 the 5th position (engine VIN code) of the VIN will be a "L". ONLY Z28's will have an L here. 1973 or 1974 Z28s will have a "T" in the 5th position of the VIN. ONLY Z28's got a "T" for an engine code. Furthermore, the cowl tag will almost always be marked "Z28" This holds true for NORWOOD BUILT Z28's only. Van Nuys built Z28's and SS's aren't coded this way. For other potential Z28's the cowl tag will have to be checked for "Z28" under accessory codes. If "Z28" isn't on the cowl tag, the car is probably not a Z28.
For SS cars, 1972 cars are easy to pin because the 5th position of the VIN will have a "K" (350) or "U" (396) for the engine code. ONLY SS cars will have this code. ALL "SS" cars will be V8's. If the VIN identifies the car as a 6 cylinder - the car is bogus.
Z27 may show up on the Cowl tag (confirm this with SS owners). I also need to dig up the accessory codes. These were apparently kept vague by GM to prevent faking cars?
Next, check the presence of known "SS" options. It's easy to bolt "SS" emblems on a car, but it's easy to overlook installing the more subtle options on an SS, like hidden wipers, or power brakes. Of course, these options could be ordered on the base Camaro which could give a faker a head start. So, check the cowl tag.
Finally, if the car is being billed as "all original", check the engine suffix code. The the engine code is NOT from a Z28 or SS car, then obviously we have a problem.
If you are buying a Z28 or SS with the drivetrain missing, or mismatched, you should note that the value of the car will probably be what the value of the base model Camaro would be. New Z28 badges are readily available from any GM dealer, and "SS" occasionally is joked as meaning "Something Similar". Buyer Beware.
Q: What is a "numbers matching" car?
A: A numbers matching car is a car in which the engine and transmission are marked with the same sequence number as the chassis VIN number. This number is called "the partial VIN code". Since all these parts & numbers match, they were installed at the time the car was built, and the car can be confirmed as original from this standpoint. The rearend is almost never marked with the VIN. It will have a date code on it which needs to correspond with the vehicle that's being checked. For example it can't have a date on it from AFTER the car was assembled.
Keep in mind, the above is MY definition of "numbers matching", and what I'd consider to be an ethical definition. To some people, numbers matching means - "similar components as origionally installed", not necessarily THE original components.
Q: How can I decode my Vehicle Identification Number (VIN)?
A: The Vehicle Identification Number, or VIN, is stamped on a plate that is riveted to the vehicle.
I have placed all my VIN Decoding information here.
Q: How can I decode my cowl or trim tag (data trim plate)?
A: The cowl tag or trim tag is a small metal tag riveted or screwed to the driver's side of the firewall in the engine compartment. The tag was stamped at the Fisher Body assembly plant with characters describing basic characteristics of the build such as interior color, exterior color, assembly date (month & week) and accessory options, if any.
I have placed all my Trim Tag Decoding information here.
Q: Where can I find my Camaro engine "numbers?"
A: There are several types of engine numbers. Generally the most important is the engine code. The engine code consists of a prefix and suffix. The prefix will indicate the assembly plant and date of assembly. The suffix code will indicate the application the engine was installed in.
The code is located on a machined pad on the engine block. For V8s the pad is a forward extension of the passenger-side engine deck, at the bottom of the forward end of the head (behind the alternator). For L6 6-cylinder engines the pad is located on the passenger side of the block, near the forward end, and close to the distributor.
An example of the engine assembly code is T0103EA
The prefix, T0103 decodes as an engine assembled on January 3rd at the Tonawanda, NY engine assembly plant.
The EA is the suffix code, which indicates the engine was installed in a 1968 Camaro 327ci-275HP engine with manual transmission.
To decode an engine prefix code, go here
Small & Big Block Chevy Engine Suffix Codes are here.
My yearly Camaro information will list all engine suffix codes offered for a particular year Camaro.
The other number to be aware of is known as the "VIN code" and is used to determine if the engine matches the chassis as the sequence # of the cars chassis is stamped onto the engine block.
The VIN code decode information is located here.
Also important (but often missing, especially in 1967 engine blocks) is the "partial VIN." For most of the period of the first-generation Camaro this was stamped on the engine pad next to the engine assembly code after the engine was matched to the body at the vehicle assembly plant. In 1967 this code consists of the seventh through the thirteen characters of the full VIN. In 1968 and 1969 the code was expanded to add the first and sixth digits of the full VIN. In mid-1969 model year, due to the '69 model year change in location of the alternator to the passenger side (covering the engine stamp pad) the partial VIN location for V8s was moved to eliminate the need for the vehicle assembly plant to loosen the alternator in order to stamp the pad. The new stamp location was typically a surface on the raw casting near the oil filter, which makes this stamp difficult to see.
A second partial VIN stamp location at the transmission mounting flange was sometimes used.
Q: My original engine is gone, but I got a Corvette engine now. Or do I?
A: This is simple. Check the engine suffix code as mentioned above. If the engine suffix code says it was installed in a truck, that's it. Don't be embarassed if the engine is from a truck or Impala or something. Corvette engine = bullshit. The block of any engine determines the reliability of the engine. The heads and the cam are where the power of any engine comes from. Assuming your engine block IS from a corvette, if the heads are crap smog heads, the engine will be a dog (relatively considering)...
Q: Where are the transmission numbers and what do they mean?
A: There are several types of transmission "numbers," just as there are for the engine. Each major casting in the assembly has its own casting number, and usually a casting date with it. There is also a partial VIN stamped on most post-1967 transmissions. Probably the most important number is the assembly date code.
I put my Transmission Decoding & Identification information here.
Q: Where are the rear axle code numbers and what do they mean?
A: The third major drivetrain component, the rear axle/differential, like the engine and transmission, was also marked for identification. The major marks are the axle assembly stamp and the carrier casting number and casting date code. The axle assembly stamp is located on the forward face of the passenger-side axle tube, midway the length.
I put my Rear Axle Decoding information here.
Author: MadMike Maciolek
North Georgia Classic Camaro
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