Decoding Your 1955, 1956, 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air, 210, 150 VIN and Cowl Tags

Was your Bel-Air actually made as a Bel-Air or was it cloned? There’s ways to tell visually such as the different trim and interior options, but those can be replicated. One sure way to know if it’s a real Bel-Air, 210, or 150 is to decode the VIN tag and Cowl Tag.

Thank you to Classic Industries for providing this information.

If you’ve ever seen a 1955-57 Chevy classic car and wondered what its original specifications were, there’s one way to find out for certain: examine the VIN plate and the trim tag. These two pieces of metal were riveted onto the body of all Tri-Five Chevy vehicles, and each provides some valuable information on the way they looked when they left the GM assembly line back in the 1950s. Read on to learn how to use our 1955-57 Chevy VIN decoder and trim tag decoder to find out more about your own ’55-57 Chevy, or one you’re thinking about buying and restoring.

THE 1955, 1956, 1957 VIN TAG DECODER

1955 1956 1957 Chevrolet Vin Decoder

The 1955-57 Chevy VIN decoder is very simple. Just look on the left front door hinge pillar post for a VIN plate that resembles the graphic above, and use the information below to decode it.

A: V8 Model
In addition to the Series and Model Identification letter, models equipped with a V8 from the factory will contain a “V” before the Series and Model ID. Models originally equipped with a 6 cylinder engine did not feature this “V” at the beginning of the V.I.N.

B: Series and Model
The second letter in the V.I.N. sequence is the Series and Model Identification digit. Each Series received a unique letter.

A1500150 Models
B2100210 Models
C2400Bel Air Models

C: Model Year
The first set of numbers in the V.I.N. sequence represents the model year of the vehicle. “55” indicates 1955, “56” indicates 1956, and “57” indicates 1957.

D: Assembly Plant
The final letter of the V.I.N. represents the assembly plant at which the vehicle was built. Between 1955-57, ten primary assembly plants manufactured passenger cars. Oakland, CA used the plant code “O”, which can sometimes cause confusion with the sequence number, especially in 1955-56 models where the sequence begins with a zero.

CodeAssembly Plant
AAtlanta, Georgia
BBaltimore, Maryland
FFlint, Michigan
JJanesville, Wisconsin
KKansas City, Missouri
LLos Angeles, California
NNorwood, Ohio
OOakland, California
SSt. Louis, Missouri
TTarrytown, New York

E: Production Number
The production number sequence represents the basic serial number given at the assembly plant. This six digit long sequence began with “001001” in 1955-56, while in 1957 the sequence began with “100001”. Each plant used their own unique sequence numbers.

1955-57 Chevy Trim Tag Decoder

The trim tag, also known as the cowl tag, is attached to the right hand side of the cowl panel under the hood. The plates represented a vehicle’s most basic body characteristics from Fisher Body, the coachworks contracted to build vehicles for Chevrolet Motor Division. The cowl tag provides invaluable information to the car’s original paint color, interior color and material, and the location of the plant at which the vehicle was built.

A: Model Year Code
As with the VIN, these two digits represent the model year of the vehicle. “55” indicates 1955, “56” indicates 1956, and “57” indicates 1957.

B: Model Identification Code
The second set of digits in the style number code represents the style of the vehicle’s bodywork. Within this code, the first two numbers represent the Series Identification – “10” for 210 or Bel Air, “12” indicating 150 Series. The last two numbers represent the bodywork style of the vehicle. A detailed list can be found below.

Note: Up to two letters can also be found after the four numbers. A “D” as the first letter represents a Bel Air Series model while an “F” in either location represents a station wagon model. Example: 1062DF can be identified as a Bel Air 4 door wagon.

CodeBody Style
1211150 2-Door Sedan
1219150 4-Door Sedan
1263150 2-Door Wagon
1271150 2-Door Sedan Delivery
1011210 and Bel Air 2-Door Sedan
1011A210 Del Ray Club Coupe
1037210 and Bel Air 2-Door Hardtop
1019210 and Bel Air 4-Door Sedan
1039210 and Bel Air 4-Door Hardtop
1062210 and Bel Air 4-Door Wagon
1063210 2-Door Wagon
1064Bel Air Nomad 2-Door Wagon
1067Bel Air 2-Door Convertible

C: Assembly Plant Code
The assembly plant code is a combination of two codes, a letter representing the assembly plant location and a sequence number. The list below details the letter code. The numbers after the assembly plant code provide a sequence number indicating the specific assembly plant’s sequence or rotation number and should not be confused with the V.I.N. sequence.

CodeAssembly Plant
AAtlanta, Georgia
BBaltimore, Maryland
FFlint, Michigan
JJanesville, Wisconsin
KKansas City, Missouri
LLansing, Michigan
NNorwood, Ohio
OOakland, California
SSt. Louis, Missouri
TTarrytown, New York
VNVan Nuys, California
CLCleveland, Ohio

D: Interior Trim Code
This three digit number represents the interior color and materials for a given vehicle. Codes and patterns are different for each year, but color combinations may cross over.

Click Here For A List Of All Interior Trim Codes

E: Paint Color Code
The paint color code represented in three numbers the exterior paint colors and their locations on the vehicle. Two-tone paint schemes were available from 1955-57 and because of this, separate codes were offered for each color combination. From 1956-57, a letter would sometimes follow the three digit code. An “A” would represent a single paint color and a “B”, “C”, “D” or “E” represented a two-tone paint scheme.

Click Here For A List Of All Paint Codes And Combinations

F: Vehicle Options
If a particular vehicle was to be built with optional equipment, the codes for these extras would be stamped below the exterior paint color code. However, even vehicles with options sometimes did not have a stamping on the cowl tag. Minor options were not indicated on the cowl tag. Major options, such as a partial list below, were included.

CodeVehicle Option
ACAir Conditioning
CPPadded Dash
WSPower Windows and Seats
EZITinted Glass