Decoding a trim tag on a 1959 Chevrolet Impala is an easy task. Deciphering the code provides a wealth of information about the Impala's original body colour, interior colours, model and where Chevrolet manufactured the vehicle. The body tag, which contains the trim data, is different from the vehicle identification number (VIN) found in the driver's side doorjamb. Chevy riveted the 1959 Impala's trim tag to the firewall near the windshield. Chevy identifies the trim tag at the top with "Chevrolet Div. General Motors Corporation," which is the parent company of Chevrolet, and "Body by Fisher" at the bottom.
Open the bonnet and look for the metal trim tag on the firewall under the windshield. It is on your right side just to the right and below the cowl air vent. Record the data. It is best to use a digital camera. Decode the numbers by consulting the numerous online Chevrolet VIN and trim tag-decoding websites, writing to General Motors or consulting an auto restoration expert who has access to the charts.
Read from top left for the word "Style." The first two digits are the model year. It should read "59." Following the hyphen are four digits that denote vehicle's division series and body style. The first digit is "1" for the Chevrolet Division. The remaining numbers identify the body style, such as a two- or four-door sedan.
Note the word "Trim" under "Style." To the right of "Trim" is a three-digit code. For example, an "803" identifies the Impala's interior as having a grey cloth and vinyl combination. The number "853" designates a cloth and vinyl interior in turquoise.
Note "ACC" under the "Trim" designation. "ACC" stands for accessories. Note the digits after "ACC." For example, "EZ1" denotes the vehicle has tinted glass. "IP" denotes a padded dashboard while "L" means the Impala has a four-speed transmission.
Look directly to the right of the style codes and see "Body" stamped on the tag. To the right is a three-digit code. This code identifies the assembly plant and a unit number. The unit number is a GM in-house identifier and has no significance to the car owner.
Read "Paint" under the "Body" identifier. There is a three-digit code. For example, "914" identifies the body paint colour as Crown Sapphire. A "953" identifies the paint as a two-tone Highland Green and Snowcrest White.
Old trim tags often have decades' accumulation of dirt and grime. Use a wire brush and clean, soapy warm water to scrub the tag.
Although it is rare, some unscrupulous car sellers may affix a counterfeit trim tag to the cowl that attempts to authenticate the trim. Some trim details are on the VIN plate and should match the trim tag. Consult an auto restoration expert for verification.
Tips and warnings
- Old trim tags often have decades' accumulation of dirt and grime. Use a wire brush and clean, soapy warm water to scrub the tag.
- Although it is rare, some unscrupulous car sellers may affix a counterfeit trim tag to the cowl that attempts to authenticate the trim. Some trim details are on the VIN plate and should match the trim tag. Consult an auto restoration expert for verification.
Things you need
- Digital camera
- wire brush
- soapy water
- Year One: Decoding Body Tags
- 348-409.com: The High Performance Website: 1959 Chevrolet Interior Trim Number Decoder
- 348-409.com: The High Performance Website: 1950-1963 Accessory Codes
- 348-409.com: The High Performance Website: 1959 Chevrolet Paint Number Decoder
- Chevy Resource: Online Resource for 50s, 60s & 70s Chevrolet Fullsize Car Line
- xFrame Chevy: A Resource for 1958 to 1964 Chevy Enthusiasts