1925-1939 Car Number Plates
By Stephen Kassis
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One common misconception with our old cars is that there was a VIN number used on early Chevrolets. Chevrolet did not use a VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) until the mid 1950’s. There are no stamped serial numbers on the frame so engine serial numbers were most often used by Motor Vehicle Departments for registration purposes. A Car Number Plate plate was used that gives detailed information about the vehicle but it was not generally used for vehicle identification because it was easily removed.
Early Chevrolet cars & trucks used Car Number Plates to identify where the vehicle was made, which month it was made, show the series and the number of the vehicle as it came off the assembly line. Most early wood-bodied models had this plate nailed into the seat frame or the floor on the passenger side. For this reason, they are often missing. A beautiful and accurate reproduction of the Car Number Plate is available for 1925 thru 1939 cars & trucks. Now you can replace missing or damaged number plates with these show quality reproductions.
The plates changed each year until 1934. Model names “Superior K”, “Superior V”, “Capitol”, “National”, “International”, “Universal”, “Independence”, “Confederate” and “Eagle” were used prior to 1934. From mid-1933 thru 1936 “Master” & “Standard” were used. 1937 to 1939 the plates had “Master” & “Deluxe Master”.
1932 and earlier trucks used the same data plate as passenger cars. However, trucks had a different two letter series designation from passenger cars. From 1933-1938 trucks used the Master Car Number plate. Compare to your original plate (if you have it) to be sure. Truck number plates were mounted on the passenger side of the firewall in the engine compartment. Later truck models had this plate mounted inside the cab on the driver side kick panel or door post.
Using this example number, we will break down the code: 6BA 03 14173. The Car Number or Model Identification Plate shows the factory of manufacture, series designation (i.e.: BA = 1932 passenger cars), the month of manufacture (1932 and later models) and the car number.
In the example above, the first number or numbers indicates the factory where the vehicle was manufactured. Referring to the table below, the number “6” indicates that the factory where this vehicle was manufactured was Oakland, California.
The letters “BA” indicate that this was a 1932 series passenger vehicle and the model was called “Confederate”. The second table lists the 1925 to 1939 series and model designations that were used on all passenger cars and most trucks:
Plants of Manufacture
1. Flint, Michigan
2. Tarrytown, New York
3. St. Louis, Missouri
5. Kansas City, Missouri
6. Oakland, California
8. Atlanta, Georgia
9. Norwood, Ohio
12. Buffalo, New York
14. Baltimore, Maryland
20. Van Nuys, California
21. Janesville, Wisconsin
|1933-36||Car & Truck||Master|
|1937-39||Car & Truck||Master|
|1937-39||Deluxe Car||Deluxe Master|
The numbers “03” indicates the month that the vehicle was manufactured – March of 1932. If the number was “11”, that would indicate that the vehicle was manufactured in November of 1931. This part of the serial number was not used until the 1932 production (model year), therefore, 1931 and earlier models will not have these two numbers.
The number “14173” (model series unit number) indicates that this is the 13,173rd vehicle to come off the Oakland assembly line in 1932. (Note that the numbering started at 1,001).
In 1932, there were two different Car Number Plates used. All 1932 models had a 2-digit month of manufacture added to the number. Early production vehicles used “Car Number” on the plate, just like the 1931 models. Later production models used a new plate that had a longer field for the stamped number. In order to make room for the longer number, the words “Car Number” were shortened to “Car No”. From 1932 and later “Car No.” was used.
Most of these plates are in stock and ready for shipping. Make your restoration truly complete with a new, show quality Car Number Plate! See our complete selection of Data Plates Here!