By the numbers

There is something sterile and just a bit too fussy about a modern VIN or vehicle information number.  That’s the 17-digit code stamped onto a plate mounted in the dash of the driver’s-side lower corner of every modern vehicle windshield. The number identifies not only the car, but the car’s original components.

Green doesn’t have a VIN–too old. Instead, he has a series of serial numbers stamped onto components individually. One of my first interests as I get time is to document the numbers, but fall is coming, winter will be close behind, and I am not fond of crawling around in snow under a truck for the sake of pictures. That may have to wait until spring but I’ll get to those numbers eventually.


What Green has as an identity is a manufacturer’s model plate on the driver’s-side door pillar. You can see that his has been scrubbed clean by decades of time, weather, and wear, so I’ll have to eventually go looking for a reproduction.  Thankfully General Motors stamped the serial numbers into the zinc rather than painting it on:  5GRB3125.  Like the other numbers used on components, the number codifies a bit of mechanical family history.  The information in the serial number can be deciphered from second page of the GM Vehicle Information Kit, which was the subject of a previous posting.  Here is what it tells me:

5          =          Kansas City, Mo. assembly plant

GR      =          3600 series (3/4-ton) truck

B         =          February assembly

3125    =          sequential assembly number in 1949

So no wonder Green could buck like a Missouri mule when the clutch didn’t come out right (though I’ve learned to shift a standard transmission a little better than I did back in 1977).


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