Tony’s Garage: Readers' Tech Questions - May 2014

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Tony Huntimer Apr 25, 2014 0 Comment(s)
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Q. Tony,

I bought '69 Camaro about two years ago and finally noticed that there's no VIN tag on the firewall. There is one on the dash. Where else can I find a VIN number? Is not having the tag on the firewall a problem?

Rafael Otero
Via facebook

A. Rafael,

The tag on your dashboard (visible through the windshield) is your VIN tag. There are two more locations to find your VIN. Both of them are known as “hidden VINs” because they can't be seen without removing parts to read them. The first place you will find one is on the passenger side on top of the firewall. You won't be able to see it without removing the cowl panel, which requires removing the wiper arms. The second hidden VIN is also located on the firewall, this one hidden by the heater box/blower motor box. Not technically tags, these hidden VIN's are stamped directly into the sheetmetal and only contain the last 8 digits of the VIN.

Camaro Vin 2/5

The tag that's supposed to be on your firewall next to your wiper motor is called a cowl tag (aka trim tag). The cowl tag is stamped with production information such as: model year (e.g., 1969), model type (coupe or convertible), assembly plant (VN=Van Nuys or NOR=Norwood), interior trim color and style (standard or deluxe), body color (lower and upper), body production month and week, and trim options. The only other place you may find this information is on the “broadcast sheet.” This sheet was used on the assembly line to make sure all the correct accessories were installed. It was considered garbage, so if the workers at the plant didn't hide it somewhere in the car (e.g., under the rear seat, under the dash, on top of the fuel tank, etc.), it was thrown away by the dealership or by one of the owners between 1969 and today. Needless to say, it would be extremely rare to find a broadcast sheet in your 1969 Camaro. You would almost have better chances of winning the Lotto.

Since your car is missing the cowl tag, it's probably a good idea to confirm that the number on your dashboard matches one of the partial hidden VINs on your car. There's never a good reason as to why a trim tag is missing. It could have been removed and lost during a restoration, but typically it would be removed if a previous owner might have tried to pass the car off as something that it's not (e.g., SS, RS, Z/28, etc.).

Camaro Cowl Tag 3/5

Not having the trim tag on your '69 is not a big deal unless it's an SS, RS, or Z/28 and you're trying to sell it to cash in on that value.

There is a service that can reproduce a trim tag for you, but they can only go by the information you give them. They don't have access to the actual records of your vehicle. Look them up online at

Q. Tony,

Back in 1991, John Hooper wrote a two-part story on the Gibb/Harrell Racer. It was printed in the April issue of the Chevy/Corvette Buyer's Guide and supposedly the May issue if the second part of the article ever saw the light of day. I am fortunate to have obtained the April issue, which has part one, but nowhere have I been able to locate the May 1991 issue.

Do you know of the publication and/or a way to contact John Hooper to see if this was actually printed?

There is an October 1991 Chevy/Corvette Buyer's Guideon eBay that has been there for a long time, so I'm pretty sure the publication was ongoing at least through October of 1991. I am not sure if the article was taken from the source book, but I have my doubts. I am rather of the thinking that he wrote a shortened version compiled from various articles.

Thanks for any help.

La Harpe, Illinois
Via email

A. Ron,

I saw the issues you referred to on eBay. The Chevy/Corvette Buyer's Guidelooks like it was an old Auto Trader-style used car guide/classifieds magazine for Camaros, Corvettes, and other Chevy muscle cars. Unfortunately, these are probably the types of magazines that ended up in the circular file every month.

I checked with my sources and didn't find any contact information on John Hooper or old copies of Chevy/Corvette Buyer's Guide.

If you haven't done so, get on the forum at and put in a request for this information. One or two of the core members and the majority of their standard members there are responsive and have a lot of knowledge on the writers and articles from back then. The same goes for I bet you'll get some help from one of those two sites.

We can also hit up the readers of Camaro Performersmagazine. If anyone has information to assist Ron, please contact us at or through our Facebook page.




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