Author Topic: Strange Cowl Data Plate, need help here.  (Read 3466 times)

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Offline cal30_sniper

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Strange Cowl Data Plate, need help here.
« on: May 31, 2006, 05:01:31 PM »
I just bought a '78 T/A that runs and drives for $350. It was quite an awesome find, had been sitting there for two years. I had it started within five minutes, and drove it home. The engine has had some extensive work done to it, an Olds 403 that holds 60 pounds of oil pressure at a hot idle is a very rare find indeed, but this one will do it. There is very little rust in the car, and it has an almost new black interior. It was a black exterior, but the last time it was painted, they failed to sand the primer, thus the paint was beginning to peel. I have peeled all the paint off the entire car in a few hours, if that gives you an idea of the condition. Anyways, I am trying to figure out exactly what this car was, hoping someday to put it back to original condition. The VIN reads 2W87K8L######. After scrubbing through the 5 different colored coats of repaints the car has had over the years, i came up with this cowl plate:

ST78 2FS87 L 172629 BDY
TR 62R A51W11LW11U PNT
04A    T    3    -   015825

Underneath this data is the stamped general motors guarantee to the dealer, that the car meets all federal motor vehicle safety standards. This plate has me thouroughly confused. The plate screws cover up some of the data "TR" and the first 6 in "62R" appear to have been stamped above the hole for the left screw, as they are out of line with the other data, but definately below line 1. The 0 in "04A" is almost completely covered by the screw. The right screw partially covers the "PNT". There is a gap between 015825 and the  right screw on the plate, so i doubt anything is stamped after it. There is a definite large gap between the A in "04A" and the "T", as well as the "T" and the "3" and the "-" and "015825." I can find nothing that the single "T"," 3", or "-" could represent. This plate tells me that the car is a 1978 made at Van Nuys, California, it had a tan interior, bucket seats, and was Cameo White. The 04A means it was made the first week of April, but the other letters mean nothing close to anything I can find. The spots between the "A","T","3", and "-" are flat, and definitely have not been stamped. Also, there is no WS4, to designate a Trans Am. The 3rd line does not end in TN, and the information that should be on the 4th line "015825", is instead stamped at the end of the 3rd line. If anyone knows what this means, please fill me in.
Thanks for your time and assistance,


88 Trans AM GTA Flame Red/Tan, 350 TPI
86 C20 Suburban - 454/NV4500
73 Formula 350 - under construction

Offline Zulu

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Strange Cowl Data Plate, need help here.
« Reply #1 on: May 31, 2006, 05:36:31 PM »

There probably shouldn't be anything between the A and the T except a space. The T most likely stand for TAN. The T would represent the secondary colors of the interior. But since the car originally had an all Camel Tan interior the T is redundant. The 3 might mean power windows but that is usually denoted as A31. The cowl tag seems to be stamped kind of like a 78 Camaro tag with respect to the 3. And there probably should be a space between the T and the 3. The dash "-" is ok. That's not unusual.

As far as I know, a 1978 Van Nuys cowl tag would not have a forth line. Only three lines. That 015825 at the end of the third line might be by itself on a forth line if the car were a 1981 TA OR a Norwood built 78 TA. But not on a 1978 Van Nuys Cowl tag.

Also, I don't believe I've ever seen WS4 stamped on the cowl tag of a 1978 Van Nuys built TA. You do see it on 1978 Norwood TA's though.

I can't ever recall seeing a 78 cowl tag where the bolts cover parts of the stampings either.???

The TN that you're thinking of could be TAN for the steering column color. But again, I don't think that that 2 letter code would be present after the 015825 on a 1978 Van Nuys TA.

Van Nuys cowl tags and Norwood cowl tags are set up a little differently as you might have gathered by now. :) There doesn't appear to be anything out of the ordinary about your Van Nuys cowl tag EXCEPT the fact that a number of stampings are covered by the bolts and the location of the high "6" in 62R. Those two things are odd.

Here's a diagram (and photo) of my Van Nuys cowl tag (1978) for comparison. The diagram shows almost exactly the spacing present on the actual cowl tag.

Hope this helps in some way. Oh, and welcome to
 1978 TA W72 4sdp, WS6, Orig Owner -
- If there's nothing to do, I believe in doing nothing -