Mopar Numbers Matching Guide

Original numbers matching vehicle or an Imposter? ©

By Moparr Motor Consulting November 15, 1995 Updated December 6, 2004
Used by MyMopar.com with permission from David Wise, Moparr Motor Consulting

With the increased popularity of classic Moparís these days it is important that you do you research and homework when looking to purchase a vehicle as an investment or just as a hobby. Car collecting and restorations have been going on for many years. It is not a new fad, and yet it is, since it is fashionable to restore a vehicle, especially a Mopar. This is due in part because of the rapid appreciation of the value of a restored vehicle. Due to inflation consuming a person's savings, many have and are investing in cars because the selling price could be adjusted to compensate for the rise in inflation. However, many sellers claim that their vehicle is "correct factory original" and "numbers matching". However, in many cases after careful inspection the vehicle does not qualify as an original.

I have put together the following points that need to be considered consider when buying a vehicle. Always keep in mind that the more original documentation and original components that exist with the vehicle the better off you will be in the long run.

Vehicle Identification numbers

What is numbers matching? This statement has to be clarified to be understood. Matching numbers is a term tossed about with ease in the collector car hobby today. Many claim matching numbers for their Mopar but most have no idea what this really means.

You need to understand is it being referred to as all the vehicle numbers, which could implies components parts numbers (i.e., wheels, carburetor, voltage regulator etc) as well as the manufactures applied vehicle identification number (VIN) or just the vehicle identification number?

This term is often found in most Mopar ads today as an indication that this Mopar is somehow better to buy than one without matching numbers. The following information will attempt to clarify some of the issues and illustrate how to determine what matching numbers really are.

Verifying matching numbers on a vehicle is critical to anyone concerned with authenticating the originality of a car or the restoration of a car to its true original "as built" condition. A truly original car will consist of only parts (down to the smallest nut, bolt and/or clip) that are from its time of manufacture. This basically means that the parts will all be either from the point of production at the time of production or have been replaced with authentic NOS (new old stock) parts. There is a difference between production parts and dealer stock parts.

True numbers matching should be considered to be that the parts on the vehicle are the correct ones for that vehicle. However, In the case of the matching numbers on the block, including the partial VIN on the stamp pad, this implied originality. A vehicle that has a matching numbers block is considered to be the original block. However, there have been cases for several years of counterfeit number pads.

If you find the numbers including the VIN on the engine pad matching, you need a more proof that this engine is really original. It may just be a "re-stamp". Buyer Beware!

All engines produced after 1968 will have the VIN stamped on the ID pad. There is also a casting number and actual build dates located on the engine. These numbers should be reviewed to make sure that they are correct.

Example- If your car was produced on Jan 1, 1969 with a 440 HP engine you could most likely expect your casting date to be at least 60 days before that date and you build date to be at least 30 days before that date.

Note:

  1. If the casting date and build date do note have the logically appropriate sequence there is a possibility that the component may not be the legitimate original piece for that vehicle.
  2. If there are not sequence numbers that match the VIN number on the body be very cautions this could be a sign that the car has had structural components replaced.

If we assume for this reference that we are just speaking of matching the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) there are many vehicle numbers that should match the following are the most critical ones:

  • Body / chassis -- The manufacture stamped these numbers on various locations of a vehicle. This number is typically found on the radiator core support, cowl, and on the left side trunk lid weather seal lip.
  • Transmission -- The transmission produced after 1968 will have the VIN stamped on the ID pad. Just like the engine there is a build date on the transmission that should be before the build date of the car.
  • Axle -- Danaís only have codes on them that represent the body style, axle ratio and assembly dates. Just like the engine there is a build date on the transmission that should be before the build date of the car.

Casting Numbers

When a part is cast, the mold has a part number and a date code set so that it is part of the mold and the part is forever identified. Most Mopar parts that are cast such as alternator case halves, starter cases, cylinder heads, cylinder blocks, and exhaust manifolds, usually have a casting number to identify the part along with corresponding casting date code.

Broadcast sheet

This is an important document in validating the vehicle. Having an original broadcast sheet can add as much as 10% to the price of the vehicle. Inspect the broadcast sheet to ensure it is original (if claimed to be original).

Monroney label (window sticker)

The Monroney label details the option of the vehicle thus provides information about the vehicle. The label often lists equipment in groups, such as performance features that include engine, transmission, axle , tires and convenience features, such as power windows and cruise control. The label also details optional equipment and suggested price of each item. Sometimes the options are simply listed as "preferred group" or "light group." After listing standard and optional equipment, the label displays the manufacturer's suggested retail (base) price and then adds the options along with the freight charge to arrive at a total price.

The label also lists the make, model, year and VIN of the vehicle. Double-check the VIN on the label with the VIN tag to ensure the vehicle matched the label and it has all those items as standard or optional.

Inspect the window sticker to ensure it is original (if claimed to be original) there are a few companies that reproduce this sticker. If the sticker appears to be too "nice" and perfect it may not be original. Most original labels are not in perfect condition after 30 - 40 years.

Production information tag (Fender tag)

Fender tag -- This tag represents the main options that the manufacturer had installed on the vehicle. Please keep in mind that all the options are only found on the build sheet. Some production plants like Lynch Road did not typically identify many options on their tag.

Inspect the fender tag to ensure it is original (if claimed to be original) there are a few companies that reproduce tags. Typically the reproduction tags are lighter in weight then the original ones. If the tag appears to be too "crisp" and perfect it may not be original. Most original tags are not in perfect condition after 30 - 40 years.

Federal VIN label (Door sticker) for cars produced from

This label was installed on all cars produced from 1969-1979 (1969 is Daytona only). This label is located on the drives door. It identified the vehicle identification number and the production date. Inspect the label to ensure it is original (if claimed to be original) there are a few companies that reproduce this type of label. If the label appears to be too "crisp", incorrect text font and/or too perfect it may not be original. Most original tags are not in perfect condition after 35 years.

Original parts

This is a very important point to not overlook! The prices of original parts have risen significantly over the past few years and I will expect that they will continue to rise in the future. There is also a great deal of reproduction pieces being manufactured that are attempting to be passed off as originals.

Besides the engine, transmission and axle there are many other components that are important to be correct on a vehicle and will be costly to find in they are not in place. The following are a few components that should be reviewed.

  • Hoods
  • Radiators
  • Wheels
  • Carburetors
  • Spoilers
  • Distributors
  • Air cleaners
  • Valve covers
  • Intake manifolds
  • Exhaust manifolds
  • Deck lids
  • Trim pieces
  • Sheet metal:

    Look for signs that the sheet metal is original. Make sure that all the body plugs are in place. Many time when a body floor pans are replaced the body plugs are not reinstalled. If the sheet metal has been replaced look for signs of quality workmanship. If the panel is overlapped or all the rust has not been removed this may be a sign of poor or careless workmanship. Note: Be cautious of cars that are heavily undercoated.

    Production date codes:

    There are very few components on a Mopar that do not have a date code on them. If you are buying a high-end vehicle or one that is claimed to be original the dates codes are important to the value and authenticity of the vehicle. Date codes can also be helpful to determine what is original and correct for the car. The following are a few examples of components that has date codes applied to them by the manufacturer:

  • Radiator
  • Horns
  • Jack
  • Carburetors
  • Wiper motors
  • Glass
  • Torsion bars
  • Lower control arms
  • Seal belts
  • Wheels
  • Alternator
  • Seat tracks
  • Electrical relays
  • Rubber mounts
  • Brake drums
  • Fuel pumps
  • Hoses
  • Ignition coil
  • U joint clamps
  • Temperature sending units
  • Restoration shops thoughts:

    • In the strictest sense, restoration is returning the car to a previous form
    • Qualifications - Keep in mind that there are no qualifications that are required to open a restoration shop. Anyone can open one up. Keep that in mind.
    • What is important? Reputation - in the restoration business, itís everything. Ask for references.
    • Recent restoration projects -- If you are purchasing as vehicle that was recently been restored you should expect to obtain dozens and dozens of photos and receipts that would total up to the restoration cost stated by the seller. If he doesnít have them, it may not be the end of the world, but you donít want be paying top dollar for a restored car that doesnít come with full supporting paperwork from a reputable shop

    Exceptions

    Obviously, a big concern with most restoration shops is their inability to accept that there are exceptions. We need to keep in mind that these were production vehicles produced by a lot of people who just wanted to get through the day. As with any mass production process there will be production variations. Most of what you see in restoration books and here hold true, but exceptions do arise. If you see something that you have a gut feeling is right, it may be.

    If the original owner claims it was never changed, it probably hasn't. If a car salesman claims it, let the buyer beware. The history of a vehicle is usually obliterated when a car is restored, as the significant part of many cars is what happened AFTER they left the factory, not the assembly at the factory.

    Important issues to not overlook when buying a vehicle:

    • Vehicle history - Obtain as much information about the vehicle history as possible.
    • Owner history - Obtain as much information about the owner history. If this information is available you should call some of the previous owners.
    • Vehicle title - Review the vehicle title or registration "pink" slip. Always demand to see a copy of the title initially and then the actual title when you go to inspect the car. Do not move forward with the transaction until the seller gives you unequivocal proof that he/she not only has the legal right to sell the car, but that the title is physically in his possession
    • Inspect the car - Never send ANY money to a seller until you or your representatives have checked out the car. If you canít get to it yourself, or donít have the experience -- use a professional/ qualified inspector that has a good reputation in this area and if very familiar with the Mopar that you are interested in purchasing.
    • Emotions - Don't let your emotions take over. Unless you are looking at an extremely rare car, you should be able to find another in as good or better condition.

    Final word:

    Be very cautious when buying a vehicle.

    The Mopar hobby is rapidly advancing into some uncharted territory. With the quality of restoration on the rise, increased knowledge base and the rapid appreciation of Mopars in general we need to be careful in our quest for a classic vehicle. Just because it has won an award at a national event you still need to carefully look over the vehicle. Keep in mind that the vehicle won the award based on the condition and the components that were on it at that time. Important point to consider "not all awards are created equal".

    I have seen too many great vehicles have points deducted by judges for something that is deemed not "correct" without regards to production variations. In some cases the same component that was reviewed by a different judge at different event was found to be correct. Conversely, I have seen vehicles awarded points for items that were not correct. This is very unprofessional and seen as a problem with the current state of the Mopar hobby.

    Iím in the process of collaborating with recognized authorities in the Mopar hobby and collecting information to establish a "common" judging manual that we all can use in the future.

    Today, there is not any nationally recognized judging guides that clarify what is right and wrong on any given vehicle. There are still exceptions that are missed, as being a production vehicle changes occurred during production and workers did not always follow the "bill of process" when installing parts.

     


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