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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Good evening Gentlemen,
I'm new to the Tri-Five Forum but not to Classic Cars. I had a 1963 Impala SS convertible for 20 years and I know that both the Trim Tag and the Vin Number indicated that the car was manufactured at the GM plant in St. Louis. I'm now looking to purchase a beautiful Harbor Blue 1957 Bel Air Convertible with a light blue convertible top that is in beautiful condition BUT: The Vin Tag on the door shows VC 57 J for Janesville, WI while the trim tag on the firewall shows BODY No "L 20056" indicating the Lansing, Michigan Fisher Body Plant. The rest of the trim tag agrees with the actual car indicating TRIM-679 (LL Blue Vinyl w/Med blue Pattern Vinyl) PAINT--796 (Harbor Blue) and under ACC. "Blu Top" "EZ1".

Another problem I noticed is that the vehicle is a 283 with only a 2 barrel carburetor while the stamping pad indicates F214FG which indicates that it was assembled on Feb 14 in Flint, Michigan but the "FG" code indicates that the block was originally used as a 283 V8 w/Dual 4BC, with Powerglide. The lady I am buying it from (Husband passed last Sept) stated that her husband had purchased the car at a car auction in Atlantic City, NJ as a numbers matching car and when he later found out that this was not true he sued the seller in court and actually won a settlement, for how much I don't know. My question to you knowledgeable folks is since I know that the previous owner was a wheeler dealer, should I be fearful of this also being a stolen car with a Vin Tag Swap since the VIN TAG says "JANESVILLE" and the COWL TAG says "LANSING" Tire Wheel Vehicle Car Hood
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IS THERE ANY WHERE ELSE ON THE VEHICLE WHERE THE VIN NUMBER WOULD BE STAMPED SO I CAN DOUBLE CHECK AND POSSIBLY ELIVIATE MY CONCERNS.

Many Thanks to Anyone who can help as I really want to buy this car, but I don't want to loose it if was stolen.
 

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There is a vin # on the top side of the chassis under the drivers door . Hopefully you can see it with a flash light and a mirror . You may also want to run the vin with the local police . I would use extreme caution on this . good luck and keep us posted .
 

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As stated, There is a partial VIN on the top of the frame even with the drivers side seat. It is also re-stamped about 18 inches further back on the frame. When I say partial VIN it means that if the complete VIN is VC57J173456, the VIN that will be stamped on the frame is 57J173456. The "V" and "C" are not stamped.

All of the Tri-Five car bodies were produced in the Fisher body plants, and then they were assembled in the Chevrolet plants. Sometimes the bodies were shipped via truck or rail for assembly. For example, all Nomad bodies were produced by the Fisher body plant in Cleveland, but were shipped and assembled to all of the GM assembly plants. My Nomad was the 7860th 1956 Nomad body (made in Cleveland), and was then shipped to Saint Louis for assembly and VIN assignment.

Steve
 

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only two Fisher Body Plants produced convertible bodies, Lansing and St Louis. These bodies were then shipped by rail to the final Chevrolet assembly plant. A partial VIN is stamped on the top of the frame in the area for the driver's footwell and again about 14 inches toward the rear of the car. Can you post a pic of the engine stamping number?
 

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Not sure I'd jump to the conclusion it's a stolen car? But likely it's a Frankenstein assembled from more than one car. Convertibles are notorious for having rust issues on older cars, so it's possible somebody replaced an A pillar complete with that VIN tag, or did any number of repairs with donor parts to get it back to it's current condition.
 

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I'd also look at the engine block casting number behind the driver side head just in front of the transmission bell housing or transmission adaptor plate.
On the passenger side in the same location is the block casting date code.
If the engine has motor mount flanges and bolt holes on the sides of the block, it's not a 1957 block.

It would also be critical to compare the frame VIN against the A pillar VIN and against the VIN listed on the title.
I was able to get this picture using a wire wheel on a drill motor held vertically to clean off the top outer edge of my frame, without any disassembly, using a mirror, a cell phone camera and flipping the picture using mspaint.
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A picture of the A pillar VIN tag might also be useful, if you'd like further advice.
 

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Does any documentation exist for each Fisher plant listing the total number of bodies produced, so that one could determine an approximate date for a specific body number?
For any one Fisher body plant, did all body types fit in the same body number sequence?
Is there any list of what body types were built at each plant? It seems Nomads and convertibles were only built by specific plants.
Were trucks built at separate body plants?
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
A picture of the VIN tag will be helpful, sometimes we can detect a problem with it. The cowl tag is new and replaced, but that is not a problem.
A passenger car with dual quads and a PowerGlide would be FD, FG was in a Corvette.
Thank you all for your prompt response to my question.

Your comments have set my mind at ease about the car being stolen since I was obviously not aware that the Fisher Body Plants were not at the same location as the final assembly plants except for St Louis which apparently did everything in one town.

From what you all have told me, we are in agreement that the body was manufactured in Lansing Michigan, and the Engine was manufactured in Flint, Michigan and both were then shipped to Janesville, WI for final assembly. What insanity!! (This information per the Vin Tag and the Cowl Tag).

The present engine in the car is of course another total story on it's own since the FG code stamped on the engine block indicates that the engine block was once installed in a corvette with dual 4 barrel carbs, the year to be determined when I can visit the car again and view the casting date on the engine block, which leads me to the next question. If the original engine had a compression ratio of 9.5 to one but now has a single 2 barrel or 4 barrel carb, is the compression ration still 9.5 or 8.5 to one now, or is this impossible to determine

I have attached a photo of the carburetor currently on the car which I believe is a 2 barrel but may be a 4 barrel and has a tag with the number 7008737 on it which according " Chevrolet's By The Numbers 1955-59" is a 1956 V8, 4BC Rochester. As 19711BB427 has commented this car appears to be a 1957 Frankenstein recreation.

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More importantly than that however is the price differential between this unknown engine and say an original numbers matching 4 barrel 283. Your comments on this question please! The lady who owns the car is selling off all 6 cars in her husbands collection, but won't give me a price, wants me to make an offer. I was thinking of offering $60,000 under the uncertain circumstances, but am afraid if I don't offer enough, someone else will enter the negotiations and offer her more. What do you gentlemen think??

Your additional comments are more than welcome and will be greatly appreciated!!!
 

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If the court papers from the car are available they may have a lot of information. To win a case in court there had to bea lot of proof. If the car had been stolen the court would surely have mentioned that as a bit of an issue. Where was the court and the paper work. A paper trail must exist for the court case. The lady should know that if she knows her late husband won the case. The car is a real beauty from what little can be seen.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
If the court papers from the car are available they may have a lot of information. To win a case in court there had to bea lot of proof. If the car had been stolen the court would surely have mentioned that as a bit of an issue. Where was the court and the paper work. A paper trail must exist for the court case. The lady should know that if she knows her late husband won the case. The car is a real beauty from what little can be seen.
Basically the court case was a slam dunk since the restoration shop that submitted it to the auction had issued elaborate flyers stating that it was a numbers matching car when he had to know it wasn't.
When confronted in court with documentation from an appraiser stating why it definitely wasn't a numbers matching car the restoration shops lawyer immediately conceded and agreed to a settlement for the restoration shop. Maybe as time goes on I will find out how much the settlement was and I can deduct that amount from my offer since no amount of money can made a car that isn't numbers matching into one that is.
 

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Even if it is not a numbers matching convertible. 60K is cheap. Don't screw around and loose it. Some things can be changed to still make it a numbers
matching car. Just takes the right shop and knowledge to do so. I've done lots of them. Those days are behind me now.

Mikey
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Even if it is not a numbers matching convertible. 60K is cheap. Don't screw around and loose it. Some things can be changed to still make it a numbers
matching car. Just takes the right shop and knowledge to do so. I've done lots of them. Those days are behind me now.

Mikey
Thanks Mikey,
I couldn't check underneath the car until yesterday because the floor was so dirty but anyway it is very clean with red oxide paint on the steel underbody and a nice semi-gloss black finish on all the frame members. Also I realized that it had a crazy power steering system hooked up to the back of the generator the likes of which I had never seen before. It also has a custom wheel on the back but the skirts will definitely have to go, too hard to clean the white walls with them on. You are probably right $60 would be a low ball offer. I'm retired and have a 1972 Matador Red 442 Convertible with only 8,000 miles since a complete restoration in 2015 that I stole in 2021 for $27,00 and a 2007 Agressive red 2007 Pontiac GXP with only 13,250 miles that I just picked up last month for $13,000 .The Solstice is absolutely pristine and does 0-60 in 5.2 sec and the 1/4 mile in 14.3 sec, the fastest car and most fun car to drive I have ever owned.
My Mom just passed in December at 100 and left me 70 K so maybe I'll offer her 80 or 85 thousand for the 1957 Bel Air
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and see what happens.
 

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That crazy power steering is stock for 57. The wheel on the back is call a Continental kit.

Mikey
 
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