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Corvettes

Decoding a Corvette’s V8 Casting Numbers and Engine Stamps

by Keith Cornett on December 11, 2007

Back in September I wrote about how documentation was the must-have option when buying a classic Corvette. That article focused on mostly the paper trail: dealer invoices, build sheets and tank stickers. Today the focus is on the engine and the clues available for verifying authenticity. While the term “Matching Numbers” in its simplist form is various serial numbers and codes located on key parts and their relationship to a particular year of Corvette, it’s the engine block that is the most important part of the matching numbers equation. Unfortunately, as Corvette values rise, so do your chances of buying a Corvette with altered numbers being passed off as an original. As my favorite mantra goes when purchasing a Corvette, knowledge is power, and the more you can learn about documenting a Corvette prior to purchase, the less likely you will get burned with buying a Corvette of questionable lineage.

A series of codes and stamps are located on the engine block that will allow you to identify it as being manufactured specifically for a Corvette. There are dates of manufacture and the engine’s original application if you just know where to look. As the year’s progressed and engine options increased, the numbering and casting system obviously changed and became more specific. For the examples provided, I will be referring to the 327 ci 300 hp small block V8 in my 1966 Corvette.

Chevrolet Smallblock V8 Casting number and engine stamping locations 1966 Corvette 327 ci V8 Engine Casting Number 1966 Corvette 327 ci V8 Engine Stamp

Casting Numbers
The casting number is a sequence consisting of raised numbers that was cast into the engine block when it was made. What’s a bit tricky here is that casting numbers on Corvette blocks can also be found on other engine blocks made by GM. Casting Numbers are important to the engine documentation process because certain numbers were used for Corvettes and some were not. Also, the numbers are specific to the size of engine in the Corvette. 283′s, 327′s and 427′s all had their own casting numbers specific to individual years, so for the process of documenting a Corvette engine, the casting number will be used to confirm that that block was used in a Corvette and that it was available during the same year the Corvette was manufactured, and finally, it was unique to a specific engine size. The casting number on Chevy V8′s is located on the drivers side of the engine where the block is connected to the bellhousing. It can be a bit hard to see with the ignition shielding in place but the numbers are fairly large. The casting number on my 1966 is 3858174 which is identified as a 327 ci V8 block. That block casting number was also used in 1964-67 passenger cars including the Chevelle and Camaro as well as Chevrolet trucks.

Casting Dates
The cast date symbolizes the date of manufacture of the block. Dates are coded beginning with a letter representing the month. Letters began with “A” for January through “L” for December. The next section of digits represents the day of the month and is either 1 or 2 digits in length. The final single digit represents the year. Corvette casting dates only show the single digit for the year. If the block contains two digits for the year, then it was a block manufactured at the Tonawanda engine plant and therefore is not a Corvette block (Corvette engines were almost exclusively built in Flint, Michigan). Cast dates on small block V8′s can be found on the passenger side of flange where the block is connected to the bellhousing. I found this number difficult to locate. On 1965-67 big blocks, the cast date is located on the passenger side of the block where the starter is attached. The cast date on the block in my 1966 is “E 5 6″, which decoded stands for May 5, 1966. If you are trying to document an engine, the casting number would confirm the size of the engine and its intended recipient, and the date code would confirm that the block was used in Corvettes.

Engine Stamping
Engine stampings evolved in the early years of the Chevrolet V8 engine. In 1955-56, it was simply a continuous serial number, but one that didn’t match the serial number of the Corvette. It was then followed with F for Flint, where the Corvette engine was manufactured and then the year (F55 or F56). The final two letters indicated the original application of the engine. Application Codes usually indicated engine size, type of fuel delivery (Injection or carburetion) and transmission. As engine options grew, so did the number of application suffix codes. In 1957, the serial number was dropped and instead the stamp contained the letter F for Flint, a three to four number sequence for month and day of assembly and then the two letter engine suffix code. Beginning in 1960 the stamp included the serial number of the car it was installed in. The 327 engine in my Corvette contains the following number sequences: 6122891 F0518HE. Decoded, the first sequence is 6 for the year (66) and then the VIN sequence of 122891. The second stamp decodes F for the Flint Plant, May 18 is the engine assembly date and the HE suffix code stands for a 327 ci 300 hp with a manual transmission.

So there you have the basics of decoding engine numbers for the purpose of documentation. Please note that there are some exceptions to the information contained above. In 1965 it is said that there was a shortage of 327 blocks from the Flint plant, so Chevrolet used some engine blocks from Tonawanda. Those engines would have a T instead of F on the stamp, as well as the full year in the cast date. There are several publications that contain a breakdown of engine codes and sequences. The NCRS also provides a publication that details how engines were stamped and therefore, may help you identify restamped engines.

Related:
The Must-Have Option When Buying A Classic Corvette
Five Factors That Drive Corvette Values – Options

 

November 2008 Corvette Sales; 2008 Corvette Price Increase

by Keith Cornett on December 7, 2007

General Motors released the Corvette sales figures for November 2008. Production over the last couple of months has averaged around 2,450 which is about 300 units less than 2006. Total calendar sales (January through November) just broke the 3,000 mark at 30,771. Production in 2007 continues to lag last year’s production by 8%.

Month Calendar Year-to-Date
Month 2007 2006 % Change Months 2007 2006 % Change
January 2,234 2,579 -16.8% Jan-Jan 2,234 2,579 -16.8%
February 2,784 3,058 -9.0% Jan-Feb 5,018 5,637 -11.0%
March 3,158 3,655 -16.7% Jan-Mar 8,176 9,292 -12.0%
April 3,227 3,516 -0.6% Jan-Apr 11,403 12,808 -11.0%
May 3,300 3,317 -4.3% Jan-May 14,703 16,125 -8.8%
June 3,055 2,938 0.1% Jan-Jun 17,758 19,063 -6.8%
July 2,377 2,794 -11.4% Jan-Jul 20,135 21,857 -7.9%
August 2,877 2,990 -3.8% Jan-Aug 23,012 24,842 -7.4%
September 2,837 3,056 -3.5% Jan-Sept 25,849 27,903 -7.4%
October 2,484 2,761 -13.5% Jan-Oct 28,333 30,664 -7.6%
November 2,438 2,773 -12.1% Jan-Nov 30,771 33,437 -8.0%
On a related note, both Corvette Conti and the Corvette Blog have reported a slight increase in 2008 Corvette prices. Coupes and Convertibles are going up by $115 bringing the prices to $46,225 and $54,565 respectively. A destination charge of $825 is included in these figures.
Source:
General Motors Related:
October 2008 Corvette Sales
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Corvette Makes Car & Driver’s 2008 10 Best Cars List

by Keith Cornett on December 4, 2007

The 2008 Chevrolet Corvette ConvertibleIf it seems like Corvette is always making Car and Driver’s annual 10 Best Cars List, that’s because it has earned a spot on the coveted list for seven years straight. Calling the Corvette a poster car for continual development, the new 2008 Corvette boasts 22 significant updates over last year’s entry. Car and Driver’s staff focuses more on the improvements they say are dynamic to the driving experience. While they liked the upgrades to interior, especially the wrap-around leather option, it’s the upgrades to the steering, manual shifter and the clutch that won them over for the seventh straight year. Oh and let’s not forget the fact that Corvette’s mid-cycle upgrade included the new 6.2 liter LS3 engine that expands the horsepower envelope from 400 to 430. Everyone loves more ponies and the 2008 Corvette delivers. Car and Driver calls the Corvette one of the world’s best high performance buys. Here is the full list of cars that made Car and Driver’s 10 Best List for 2008: BMW 3- Series
Cadillac CTS
Chevrolet Corvette
Chevrolet Malibu
Honda Accord
Honda Fit
Mazda MX-5
Mazdaspeed 3
Porsche Boxter/Cayman
Volkswagen GTI
Source:
Car and Driver Related:
Kelley Blue Book Includes 2008 Corvette Z06 in Top 10 Resale List
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In 1965, as in previous years, General Motors and Chevrolet were touring the country showing off their latest products to the masses at car shows and the company-sponsored motoramas.

Marketing was concerned that the Corvette, in its third year of the fabled midyear body style, might be looking a bit aged and so they set out to create a display that became a mechanical marvel.

Selecting a 1965 Corvette Coupe from the assembly line, the car was shipped to a specialty display making company where it was fully disassembled and then operated on to create the one-of-a-kind Corvette display we see in the video.

Mounting the body to elevator arms, the coupe would rise off its chassis, exposing the car’s running gear. The frame was painted in bright yellow while the engine, transmission and other mechanical parts were finished in red. Cutouts were created to display the inner workings of the car. A series of motors would operate moving components of the car allowing visitors to see exactly how the 375 horsepower fuel injected 327ci was powered.

After its life on the show circuit, whereabouts of the car were unknown. It was found in South Africa in the mid ’90′s and returned to the United States where is was purchased a short time later by Al Wiseman.

This 1965 Corvette is unique in many regards, especially considering the fact that it contained the last of the fuel injected engines. With only 4 miles showing on the odometer, it truly is a time capsule.

Back at the auction, bidding was steady and deliberate and finally the last bid of $640,000 was called. With the addition of the 10% buyers commission, total price of the 1965 Chevrolet Corvette Cutaway Autorama Display was $704,000. The buyer of this unique Corvette was Detroit’s Showdown Muscle Cars.


Source:
RM Auctions

Related:
Video: Matched Set of 1953/2003 Corvettes sell for $390,500
Video: Zora’s 1955 Corvette Sold By RM Auctions for $134,750

 

Here is something that you don’t see everyday and in the words of the auctioneer, it’s probably something that will never be duplicated! We’re talking of course about the matched set of Corvettes that was sold at Saturday’s RM Auctions Al Wiseman Collection in Tarpon Springs, Florida. Al had a 1953 Corvette with the serial number of #39. When the 50th Anniversary Corvettes were produced in 2003, Al lobbied GM quite hard for about a year and was successful in buying serial number #39, which was doing duty as a test mule. Topping off the collection was a commemorative 1953 Corvette pedal car from Pedal Cars USA produced to celebrate the Corvette’s golden anniversary. This unique Corvette pedal car also is number #39 in its series.

The 1953 Corvette has been in Al’s collection for around 5 years and has just completed a full concours quality restoration. Al was no stranger to 1953 Corvettes. Back in 2002 he teamed up with Chip Miller of Carlisle Productions to restore serial #158. That Corvette, dubbed “Restoration Celebration”, was restored to better than perfect condition and the proceeds from the sale of that car were donated to charity.

Interestingly, the sale of both of these 1953 Corvettes ended up in the hands of the same buyer…Terry Michaelis of Proteam Corvettes.

And while the buyer and seller of both 1953 Corvettes remained the same, what has changed in the last five years is the prices commanded for the first year of America’s Sports Cars. #158 was purchased for $170,000 in 2002 while 1953 Corvette #39 brought in $390,500 just five years later.

Yes, this auction of the 1953 Corvette had the bonus of a serial numbers-matching 2003 50th Anniversary Corvette Roadster, as well as the kids commemorative pedal car, but it was the 1953 Corvette that drove this sale home.


Source:
RM Auctions

Related:
Video: Zora’s 1955 Corvette Sold By RM Auctions for $134,750

 

RM Auctions was in the Tampa Bay area this weekend to auction off the collection of antique and classic cars belonging to noted automotive collector Al Wiseman. Included in the auction was this very significant 1955 Corvette Roadster that belonged to Zora Arkus-Duntov, Corvette’s first Chief Engineer.

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Holiday Traffic Brings Corvette Fans Together

by Keith Cornett on November 26, 2007

Charlie's 1965 Nassau blue ConvertibleThe Thanksgiving holiday found me driving a rented GMC Acadia from Tampa to Southeastern Kentucky for our annual family reunion. Friday kicked off the second leg of our trip as the family and I journeyed down I26 in South Carolina, picking up I95 on our way to Savannah Georgia. The round trip is about 1,800 miles and offers a lot of time for reflection. Seeing a couple of old cars including a first gen Mustang and a cool candy apple red Oldsmobile 442, I lamented the fact that you don’t see many C2 Corvettes on the highway anymore. Then I came across Charlie and his 1965 Corvette Convertible. Settling in behind the Nassau Blue 1965 Convertible, I set the cruise to 75 and kept a respectful distance. It was in the mid 50′s on Friday, a bit chilly for top-down driving as you can see. And because of the chill in the air and my six year old sleeping in the back seat, I decided against putting down the windows to hear the sound emanating from the side exhaust of the blue Convertible. The feeling of driving a midyear Corvette down a highway is something that can’t easily be explained. It’s just one of those things that has to be experienced for yourself. Seeing Charlie made me wish I was on a road trip in my 1966 Corvette, driving down the highway on my way home from what must have been a cool adventure. I snapped a couple photos of the 1965 Convertible and then made my Savannah exit, leaving Charlie to continue on by himself, never knowing a Corvette brother-in-arms was in that white GMC that tailed him for those few miles. Monday morning came and I was reviewing the photos from the long weekend. Seeing that the 1965 Corvette had a Florida vanity plate, I decided to see if I could track down the driver. Looking first to see if he was a member of any of the forums, I struck gold on my first attempt with the Corvette Forum and sent Charlie the following message:

Charlie: Very nice 1965 Corvette. I was lucky enough to fall in behind you for about 20 miles on I95 in South Carolina just before the Georgia border. I was driving a white GMC SUV. Send me your email and I will forward you a couple of photos I took. Keith
aka keith@vettefinders on the forum…
Charlie responded back within the hour:
Keith: I remember a white SUV that stayed with me for a while. It was a beautiful day and I was feeling good. I was headed home from Thanksgiving with my family in Charlotte. I spent the night in St. Augustine and the next morning I stopped at the Turkey Rod Run in Daytona. Too many cars to see in one day. I had to be home in Ft. Lauderdale by Saturday night.
I sent Charlie the two photos I took of him in his Corvette, both from the rear as he headed down the highway. Turns out he was on the final leg of an extended road trip which took him and other members of the Sting Rays Corvette Club up to Deals Gap North Carolina for a run on the Tail of the Dragon. Charlie’s Corvette is ideal for highway driving as he dropped a Tremec 5-Speed into it during the second restoration. You can see the former barn car for yourself on page 80 of December 2007′s Corvette Fever Magazine. We passed a couple of more emails during the day and I suggested the two of us meeting up in January at the NCRS Winter Regional in Kissimmee, Florida to say hello. Charlie, I was tired and bored from the long ride and then I saw you and your beautiful Corvette driving down the road. Thanks for allowing me to tag along! Related:
A Corvette Thanksgiving Technorati Tags:
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Corvette Z06 Chosen to Pace 50th Daytona 500 in 2008

by Keith Cornett on November 19, 2007

The 2008 Corvette Z06 Daytona 500 Pace CarThe Daytona 500 is arguably the most prestigious race on NASCAR’s seemingly endless yearly racing schedule and for the last four years, Corvette has led the pack of race cars as the Official Pace Car. 2007 Daytona 500 winner Kevin Harvick, flanked by representatives of the Daytona International Speedway and General Motors, made a surprise appearance at last week’s Central Florida International New Car Show in Orlando, Florida to announce that Corvette would be back for the fifth consecutive year as Pace Car for the 2008 Daytona 500. Next year’s race will be even more special as 2008 marks the 50th anniversary of the Daytona 500. The 2008 Corvette Z06 Pace Car pays tribute to Daytona’s golden anniversary by being decked out in a stunning “Anniversary Gold” exterior paint with Red, White and Blue racing stripes. Like previous years, the Daytona 500 logo adorns the doors while the Chevrolet bowtie graces the hood in red. The current top-of-the-line Corvette is ideally suited for the pace car duties at Daytona. The Corvette Z06, with 505 horsepower, has more horsepower than the NASCAR sprint cup race cars it will pace. Other than the integrated light bar and strobe system, the Corvette Z06 Pace Car is nearly identical to the street version.

“Chevrolet has been inextricably linked to NASCAR from its inception and we are honored to support the golden anniversary of the sport’s premier race – the Daytona 500 – with a very special Corvette Z06 Pace Car,” said Ed Peper, Chevrolet general manager. “The Corvette Z06 has established a tradition in leading the pack at Daytona, which reflects Chevrolet’s commitment to racing and the fans.” “Talk about a ‘wow-factor,’” said Speedway President Robin Braig. “It’s the perfect piece of machinery to help pace a star-studded field at ‘The World Center of Racing’ for the historic 50th running of the Daytona 500.”
The 50th Anniversary running of the Daytona 500 will be held Sunday February 17, 2008.
Source:
Daytona International Speedway Related:
Video: 2007 Daytona 500 Z06 Corvette Makes TV Appearance
Corvette to Pace 2007 Daytona 500 Technorati Tags:
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The 2008 Corvette Z06Kelly Blue Book has released their list of 2008 model year vehicles with the best resale value and Corvette was front and center. What’s interesting about this year’s list is the inclusion of the Corvette Z06 in the newly created High Performance category. Last year’s survey omitted that category, but still said this about the 2007 Corvette Z06:

Kelley Blue Book’s Best Resale Value Awards exclude expensive, high-performance, low-volume vehicles, because of the program’s emphasis on serving the typical consumer. The No. 1 vehicle would have been the 2007 Corvette ZO6, holding the greatest percentage of its original value after a five-year ownership period.
This is what Kelley Blue Book says about the 2008 Corvette Z06 in this year’s survey:
Replace the standard Corvette’s 430-horsepower V8 with a 505-horsepower V8—an engine hand-assembled by a single technician—and you’ve got what many consider the best of the best in American sports cars. The added power is managed by a reworked suspension that delivers improved handling with very little sacrifice in highway ride comfort.
In addition to the Corvette Z06 holding the best resale title in the High Performance Category, Chevrolet’s Corvette also got the nod in the top 10 list for 2008 vehicles with the Best Resale Value.
Source:
Kelley Blue Book Related:
KBB (Unofficially) Names Z06 Corvette Best Resale Value Technorati Tags:
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The 1953 Corvette Convertible1953 Corvettes continue to fetch big money at collector car auctions around the country. Over the weekend, a 1953 Corvette hit the auction block at Hilton Head’s Concours d’Elegance and sold for $440,000, a figure that ties the high price set earlier this year for the first year mark at the McMullen auction in Detroit. The selling price includes the 10% Buyers Premium. The Hilton Head auction was gaveled by the Worldwide Group. With 1953 Corvette prices up sharply compared to 2005 and 2006, collectors are striking while the iron is hot. Only two 1953 Corvettes were sold at auction in 2006, including the #003 Corvette which changed hands for $1,080,000 at Barrett-Jackson in Scottsdale. So far this year, seven 1953 Corvettes have hit the market, with six resulting in sales. Here are the sales results for 1953 Corvettes for 2007:

Auction Model Price Result
       
Hilton Head 1953 Corvette $440,000 Sold
Mecum St. Charles 1953 Corvette $225,000 High Bid
Bloomington 1953 Corvette $283,500 Sold
Bloomington 1953 Corvette $296,625 Sold
McMullen 1953 Corvette $440,000 Sold
WW – Seabrook, Tx 1953 Corvette $396,000 Sold
Barrett-Jackson (Scottsdale) 1953 Corvette $298,350 Sold
       
  Total Sales: $2,154,475  
This year alone, over $2 million dollars has been generated on the sale of six of these first year Corvettes. The strong results has pushed the Corvette investment market into a new era where being the first Corvette is now on average more valuable than fuelies or big blocks. This trend all but guarantees that we will see more 1953 Corvettes come out of the shadows and into the auction paddocks in 2008.
Source:
Island Packet
The Worldwide Group Related:
Auction Results: 1953 Corvette Sells for $440,000 Technorati Tags:
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