Nobody wants to find out that the ‘dream’ El Camino they spent hard earned money on was someone’s sister’s weekend ride with a fresh coat of paint, instead of a highly desirable SS396 or even the L78 El Camino.
Thanks to VIN codes, this situation could be avoided entirely, ensuring that your money is well spent when it comes to your dream car. If you’re new to classic cars or are just looking to refresh your memory on how to decode your El Camino’s VIN code tag, you’ve come to the right place.
The VIN code on all cars is essentially the DNA of the car and will tell you everything you need to know about the car’s origins. With the car’s VIN code, you can find out what year the car was made, what model the car was, where the car was manufactured, what motor and transmission was original to the car, the body style of the car, certain equipment packages and trims, and at what point it came off the assembly line. With this information, you’ll be able to determine exactly what the car really was when new, no matter the condition you find it in currently. Whether it’s quietly rusting away in a field or fresh after a frame off restoration, you’ll know what the car really is.
In this article, we’ll walk you through step-by-step on how to decode your El Camino’s VIN code. Armed with this information, you can be sure that you’re getting the El Camino of your dreams and not your nightmares!
Step 1: Locate the VIN tag on your El Camino
The location of the VIN code tag for 1962-1967 El Caminos will be attached to the drivers side front door hinge pillar. Chevrolet moved the VIN plate in 1968 to the top driver-side of the instrument panel, visible through the windshield.
Do not mistake the vehicle identification number for the information found on the Fischer Body number plate or trim tag. While these do share some information they detail different aspects of the vehicle.
Step 2: Its all in the Numbers
After you locate your VIN code you’ll want to write down the thirteen digits that make up the VIN code. These numbers are critical to finding out all the information you’ll need on the history of your El Camino. For an example code we’ll use a vin code we found online which is from a 1970 El Camino.
VIN Code: 1 3 6 8 0 0 L 2 0 7 8 3 9
Step 3: Cracking the Code
Now that our vin code is written down it’s time to start making some sense of it all. Head over to this article for a detailed breakout of what each number and letter stand for.
The first character classifies the division of General Motors the car was introduced by. In our case it is the number 1, which stands for Chevrolet.
The second character classifies the series model. In our example the character is 3, which stands for Chevelle/El Camino.
The third digit represents what size motor the car was equipped with, in our case the number is 6 which is an even number making this cars original motor a V8.
The fourth and fifth digits represent the series body style. Our vin code is showing the numbers 8 & 0 which means the body style was a 2-door Pick-Up delivery.
The sixth digit represents the year the model was built. With a 0 showing on our vin code we can decipher that the car was built in 1970.
The seventh digits displays at which manufacture facility the model was built. This 1970 El Camino was built in Los Angeles, CA and we know this because the seventh digit is an L.
The eight through thirteenth character classifies the sequential production number. Our vin code ends with the numbers 2 0 7 8 3 9. This tells us that this El Camino was the 107,838 to roll off the line in Los Angeles, CA.