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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
We're thinking about buying a 1957 Bel Air convertible, 6 cylinder. Great looking car inside and out, great mechanically and runs well. The title is clear with the VIN matching the VIN plate.

However, somewhere along the line the cowl tag was lost during the restore. My question should this be a cause of concern? We're buying the car as a fun investment, so don't want to discover afterward the missing cowl tag has killed the value and we've lost money. Opinions? Thanks. -Brian
 

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The VIN number on the inside of the door that matches your title is all you really need. The cowl tag only tells you what the original color, interior and general mechanicals were (+ body style). A lot of those just don't get put back on. Needed? No. Needed for super high point restoration? Yes. If you're going to drive it and enjoy it, you don't need it.
 

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If it was a supposed rare FI or 2x4 then it would be a big concern but with the 6 no big deal. Just make certain it's not a cloned convertible.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
If it was a supposed rare FI or 2x4 then it would be a big concern but with the 6 no big deal. Just make certain it's not a cloned convertible.
Thanks for the inputs! What are the most obvious signs it an origonal and not a clone? I'm thinking someone wouldn't go through the trouble/expense to make a clone and keep a 6ycl in it?
 

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Thanks for the inputs! What are the most obvious signs it an origonal and not a clone? I'm thinking someone wouldn't go through the trouble/expense to make a clone and keep a 6ycl in it?
There are certain things people do or don't do when they "clone" .. too nice a term for me, a more appropriate term would be "fake" a convertible. Now if someone "makes" their own and always describes it as such especially when they are trying to sell it, that's one thing however there are a LOT of people out there making their own convertible's and trying to pass them off as real because of the big money they are bringing. Some obvious things to look for?? Does it have the X member in the frame, does it have the power top switch in place and is it the correct switch NOT some generic type or non-matching type, do the vent windows have the locks on them? they shouldn't! Those are some obvious things to check, the people making their own to pass off as real convertible's are mostly knowledgeable about tri-fives and will go a little further in their attempts to fool than say some novice. There are some dead giveaways that even the higher skilled cloner will not change because of the expense, they figure most won't know the difference and sadly they are correct, which they are banking on... literally! My advice is to get pic's of the area's that I have described and post them here, we'll be able to help you with the determination. :shakehands:
 

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Thanks for the inputs! What are the most obvious signs it an origonal and not a clone? I'm thinking someone wouldn't go through the trouble/expense to make a clone and keep a 6ycl in it?

I would tend to agree with you but you never know. I'm not the VIN expert so if the VIN reflects if it is a convert you are OK, if not beware.
 

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For the purpose of owning and driving the car, the tag means nothing.
When buying or selling the car, any prospective buyer will have the same concerns you have now, which may affect your ability to sell it for what it's worth, or how long you have to wait to find a buyer that doesn't care.
Probably worth considering if you make an offer...
 

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I agree with most everyone, if it's a true convertible, not a clone, and the only thing wrong is the missing cowl tag, then it's no big deal. New ones are available at trimtags.com (link provided in an earlier reply), but also available from http://www.datatags.com/ .

If/when you get a new tag please try to make the numbers on it as accurate as possible. Plenty of people here can assist with that. And when you go to sell it (after many years of enjoyment hopefully), always disclose that the tag is a repro.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
There are certain things people do or don't do when they "clone" .. My advice is to get pic's of the area's that I have described and post them here, we'll be able to help you with the determination. :shakehands:
I've attached a couple pictures. One of the driver's side front. Also one of the trunk in case you can get anything from that.

*It does have an x frame
*It doesn't have vent window latches
*The TOP switch is below the dash to the left of the steering colmnn. Its round and has the word TOP on its face. Does that look correct?
 

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I've attached a couple pictures. One of the driver's side front. Also one of the trunk in case you can get anything from that.

*It does have an x frame
*It doesn't have vent window latches
*The TOP switch is below the dash to the left of the steering colmnn. Its round and has the word TOP on its face. Does that look correct?
Yes everything I can see in those pic's looks legit. X frame is good, no vent locks is good. Sierra Gold is a nice color. :tu
 

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As far as an investment it's a suboptimal choice and you should pass on the purchase. As far as having fun with it, a missing cowl tag is not an issue. Reproduction cowl tags are easy to be spot so you should not buy one IMO.

There's the story of a Top-Flight NCRS Corvette being stolen only to be recovered intact except missing the trim tag (same thing as the cowl tag). The missing tag destroyed the value of the car (basically totaled it) and it cannot be shown again unless the tag can be recovered. If you present at an NCRS show with a reproduction tag, you are automatically disqualified when it is inspected with a 10X loupe and you are typically asked to leave with your car immediately.

Although the convertible is not a Corvette, the state of affairs with NCRS and the better organized chevy clubs suggests, in my opinion, that they will ultimately merge, including their judging criteria.

So, again, as an investment: pass. As a fun local car, it might be just right.
 

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with no cowl tag you can put an 8 in it and it won't even matter that it's a 6. :anim_25:
 

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with no cowl tag you can put an 8 in it and it won't even matter that it's a 6. :anim_25:
You're thinking of the VIN tag, which apparently indicates that the VIN was a 6-cyl, although that hasn't been verified yet either. The missing cowl tag does not indicate which engine was installed, although it may indicate some accessories that were available only with a V8.

Right now it appears the car is legal, but there's nothing to refute that the VIN and cowl (bottom part) was from a 6-cyl base model sedan and that the convertible body was installed at a later time. This is the type of construction recommended for the reproduction convertibles, and it makes financial sense to reconstruct a base sedan this way especially if some of the original convertible parts are already on hand.

That's why is doesn't look like a good investment but it looks like a lot of fun.
 

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It has the convertible rear inner wheel wells, which is a point many clone makers miss. It's possible the car originally had a 245, 250, 270 or 283 V-8 which was removed for separate sale. Are the fuel and brake lines inside or outside the right frame rail? Is there any indication that a right hand exhaust was once installed - evidence of hangers having once been there? Is there evidence of hood or trunk holes (for the "V") having been filled? A little harder to get to but check for filled holes on the front fenders where a FI badge may have once been.

Personally, I wouldn't be concerned one way or the other if the price is right.
 

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Looking at the pics its a beauty, a lot of original components are still intact, wether its a six or V8 at the end of the day its a ragtop :anim_25:
 

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I remember seeing a sierra gold 6 cyl convert on ebay about one year ago. It was a nice car. Wondering if it is the same one.:anim_25:
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
It has the convertible rear inner wheel wells, which is a point many clone makers miss. It's possible the car originally had a 245, 250, 270 or 283 V-8 which was removed for separate sale. Are the fuel and brake lines inside or outside the right frame rail? Is there any indication that a right hand exhaust was once installed - evidence of hangers having once been there? Is there evidence of hood or trunk holes (for the "V") having been filled? A little harder to get to but check for filled holes on the front fenders where a FI badge may have once been.

Personally, I wouldn't be concerned one way or the other if the price is right.
What would you guys consider a fair price to pay for an authentic chevy convertible, excellent condition with 6 cyl engine?
 
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