Chevrolet SS Muscle Car Red Book

CHEVELLESTUFF  All Rights Reserved

Pros:

Comprehensive collection of production figures and RPO quantities & costs for most Chevrolet Super Sports from the 1961 to 1973 time span. Well laid out by year with interesting facts for each year. Handy size (4.5 x 7.5) to carry in your back pocket to shows and swap meets.

Cons:

Why the Chevy II/Nova SS cars of the mid-to-late 60's and early 70's were not included is a mystery. But, since my interest is mainly in the Chevelle lineup I can't really hold that against the book.

Appendix under the Engine Identification section states, "Every Chevrolet engine has a number stamped on it to identify it and connect it with the car it is installed in. This number consists of the engine code and part of the car's VIN." At least for the Chevelle line, the practice of stamping part of the car's VIN didn't begin to appear until the 1966 model year and then normally only in the SS 396 series with big block engines although some L79 small block engines have been found stamped. Partial VIN's were not mandated by federal law until 1968 when 'every' engine began being stamped. The book continues on saying that the engine suffix code stamped was two letters until 1970 when a three letter suffix was used. This practice began in the mid 1969 model year on 396 cid engines when these engines were increased to 402 cid.

Appendix under the Cowl tags section:
The book continues the myth that the Fisher Body Style numbers conform to the same information on the VIN plate and even takes it a step further by stating, "The division series and body series must match the first five digits of the car's VIN." Simply not true. Numerous examples are found on this website where the Fisher Body plate may have a Style of 13411 and the VIN is 13311. Some assembly plants did match up the Fisher Body style number with the GM overall series & style numbers on the VIN, but not all. See tech/articles/trim_tags/body_plates.htm for more specific information.

CHEVELLESTUFF  All Rights Reserved

In describing Line 2 of a 1964-1967 Fisher Body plate it states, "The following three letters represented the assembly plant at which the vehicle was built." Fisher Body plates in 1964 used two letters to represent the final assembly plant for Chevelles and Euclid, OH. Fisher Body plant provided several body types to several final assembly plants (such as Atlanta and Kansas City) and did not do final assembly itself. The Fremont, CA. assembly plant continued to use a two letter plant code for 1965, 1966, & 1967 while the other plants did use a three letter code - and the Euclid plant continued to supply certain bodies in 1965 to other plants for final assembly but have the Euclid plant code on the plate. Camaros assembled at Van Nuys, CA. also used a two letter code (VN) for the plant identification.

Finally for Line 2, the book states, "The final six numbers were the consecutive unit number, which must match the one on the car's VIN." Again, 100% incorrect. The Fisher Body unit number (anywhere from 1 to 6 digits) has nothing at all to do with the vehicle's sequence number depicted on the VIN plate.

For Line 3 the book references a convertible or vinyl top color information stating, "These codes are included in each chapter in this text." The problem is the codes in the individual year's chapter are the letter designations used on other paperwork such as AA for black, AB for beige, or 'Std' for white. Trouble is, 1965 to 1967 paint codes were letters and convertible and vinyl top codes used on Fisher Body plates were numbers, not the letters shown in the text. No mention is made of model year 1964 where all plants (except Fremont) used a three number paint code as opposed to a one or two letter paint code) and depicted the convertible top color with a 4th number.

The next paragraph states, "The 1967 Camaros had a similar plate, but two additional lines of codes represented options the car came with." These same codes were on 1964 through 1967 Chevelle plates as well for certain assembly plants but not all. Depending on the number of items, they might appear on one or two additional lines.

The last paragraph dealing with Cowl Tags describing 1968 and later Fisher Body plates states, "The time build code was relocated to the third line, which was followed by a modular seat code." This may be a reference to the Camaro since the 1967 Camaro plate is referenced in the paragraph preceding this one; it's unclear. For the Chevelle and Camaro lines, the body date didn't move to the third line until 1969 and a variety of codes may or may not have followed the body date on Camaros but not Chevelles.

Appendix under Protect-O-Plates section states, "Original owners of 1966-72 Chevrolet automobiles got a Protect-O-Plate along with the car." Protect-O-Plates first appeared in 1965, not 1966. 

Appendix under Transmission Identification section states, "In addition, beginning in 1968 the last eight numbers of the car's VIN were stamped on the transmission." Again, the plant letter contained in the last eight characters is not a number. Additionally, the practice of stamping the partial VIN on transmissions began in 1962 on most transmissions but was mandated by 1968 the same as engine blocks being stamped.

For some reason the 1966 and 1967 Chevelle SS396 models are listed as "Chevelle Malibu SS 396" even though it's stated the SS396 became a separate series (from the Malibu) in 1966; 1969 and later are listed as "Chevelle SS 396" even though the SS stopped being a separate series in 1969 and became an option.

In describing 1961-1964 VIN's the book states, "...the VIN consisted of eleven digits, which broke down to model year, body style and series, assembly plant and consecutive sequence number."  The 1961-1964 VIN's actually consisted of twelve characters, not eleven digits. A typical 1964 VIN might read 45837A123456; to me that's 12 characters (the letter "A" is not a digit). It continues, "In 1965 it expanded to thirteen digits (actually twelve digits and one letter) but did not offer any additional information. The two extra digits were used to identify the model and body series." not so. The model and body series were already identified on 1961-1964 VIN's. The one extra digit was a result of the Chevrolet Division number ("1") being added to the VIN as the first digit, resulting in the model year being moved from the first character position in the VIN to the fifth character position. For example where a 1964 VIN might read 45837A123456 for a Malibu SS sport coupe from Atlanta, in 1965 a Malibu SS sport coupe from Atlanta VIN would read 13837A123456. Note too that series designations changed from 5xxx to 3xxx from 1964 to 1965 through 1971.

Although it's correctly stated, "Chevrolet kept only cumulative totals for the number of options installed on all models within a car line. Unfortunately, it did not go a step further and indicate how many of a particular combination of options were made..." Yet, the book breaks down the number of particular engines available in a given model such as 1966 Chevelle figures of 44,362 L35 engines in coupe and convertible, 24,811 L34 engines in coupe and convertible, and 3,099 L78 engines in coupe and convertible. Adding these three numbers up gives a total of 72,272 which is a correct total for all SS396 coupes and convertibles. The problem arises when the non-SS El Camino is taken into account. The total number of L34 (396/360hp at 24,811 units) and L78 (396/375hp at 3,099 units) engines optioned are shown going into the SS396 when a portion of those engines in fact went into El Caminos. The remaining number of 44,362 SS396 cars shown with the base L35 engine are depicted as the number of SS396 cars left. However, since the 3,099 and 24,811 figures are incorrect for SS396 cars, the 44,362 figure is incorrect as well. As stated above there is no breakdown of a particular combination of options. In this case (and other years as well) there's no breakdown of how many 396 engines went into sport coupes, convertibles, or El Caminos by body style.

Chevelle specific information year-by-year. While not all inclusive, a few errors or omissions found are listed. Consistently the convertible and vinyl top codes are listed as letters such as AA for black. These ordering codes are not found on the trim tag. Numbers are used to depict the top colors from 1964 through 1968 when paint colors used letters. In 1969 the paint codes changed from letters to numbers, the vinyl/convertible top code changed from a number to a single letter.
1964:
At least Baltimore and Van Nuys convertibles do not indicate the convertible top color on the trim tag while Kansas City added a digit to the end of the paint code to indicate top color. Exterior color codes are listed as 3-digit numbers but Fremont used letters for the paint code and even included a letter for the wheel color.

1966:
Convertible top colors not listed. Facts state that, "Air conditioning was an option that could be ordered in conjunction with the L78."

1967:
RPO C51 Rear window air deflector is missing from RPO list
RPO D96 Optional SS396 stripes is missing from RPO list
RPO L34 396 engine is missing from RPO list
RPO L35 396 engine is missing from RPO list
RPO N96 Simulated mag wheel covers is missing from RPO list
RPO U14 Special Instrumentation is missing from RPO list

1969:
Correctly states the Chevelle SS 396 was no longer a separate series but then lists the 4 series/models the SS option (RPO Z25) could be ordered on and one of those 4 is 13537 which I'm sure is a typographical error for the 13637 series/model. El Caminos are not included in the series/models that could order the SS option; hence all numbers for 396 engine availability by series/model are incorrect plus engine breakdown by series/model can only be calculated by statistical probability. Since the El Camino is not included, even the calculated probabilities are wrong; GIGO factor.

1970:
For some reason the Kansas City assembly plant becomes Leeds City. Same plant as 1964 through 1969 but those years are listed as Kansas City. There is a district of Kansas City called Leeds, the GM Assembly plant was part of the Leeds Industrial District, but there is no Leeds City.
Consecutive sequence numbers are listed as starting at 100001. Correct for all U.S. plants except Arlington which started with 200001 and Oshawa that started with 500001.
El Caminos are not included in the series/models that could order the SS option; hence all numbers for 396 engine availability by series/model are incorrect plus engine breakdown by series/model can only be calculated by statistical probability. Since the El Camino is not included, even the calculated probabilities are wrong; GIGO factor.

1971:
Leeds City now becomes simply Leeds.
El Caminos are not included in the series/models that could order the SS option; hence all numbers for 396 engine availability by series/model are incorrect plus engine breakdown by series/model can only be calculated by statistical probability. Since the El Camino is not included, even the calculated probabilities are wrong; GIGO factor.

1972:
Leeds becomes Leeds City again.
El Caminos are not included in the series/models that could order the SS option; hence all numbers for 396 engine availability by series/model are incorrect plus engine breakdown by series/model can only be calculated by statistical probability. Since the El Camino is not included, even the calculated probabilities are wrong; GIGO factor.

Recommendation:

A fairly accurate reference book but be sure to double-check statements against other reference materials, particularly this site. I'd be inclined to trust the production numbers as I'm sure most came from the primary source of most numbers published, research done by Len Williamson and his resulting book "Tailfins & Bowties".