1938 Trim Tag/VIN Info

Queries about model and year identification, engine and vehicle numbers, etc.
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Greg Riv
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Joined: Mon Nov 15, 2021 12:49 pm

1938 Trim Tag/VIN Info

Post by Greg Riv » Mon Nov 15, 2021 12:52 pm

Hi Guys,

I'm looking for a little numbers info for 1938. As I understand it Packard did not use a metal trim tag this year but rather a decal or sticker of some sort instead, which almost never exists today. So is there no way to know for certain what the original color of a particular car would have been?

Also, was there any type of VIN used this year to title/register the cars or did they use the engine number as many others did in that era? I have this image of a 1938 Packard 8 sedan firewall. The only number present is the embossed body number, which I've circled. Can someone please tell me where the trim tag sticker might have been placed originally and was there any other info posted by Packard anywhere on the firewall?

The odd looking light blue on this car seems to be the only layer of paint on the car but it certainly does not look like any Packard color I have seen before.

Appreciate any and all input.

Greg

pack firewall.jpg

Bluedevil
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Re: 1938 Trim Tag/VIN Info

Post by Bluedevil » Mon Nov 15, 2021 2:07 pm

My '38's ID number is 1134-2033. The 1134 number identifies the body type, in this case a V12, 7 Passenger touring sedan.

Does your car have any of the original interior panels? Do you know the wheelbase? Both those would be clues.

My theft number, the number you circled, is 411792 I can't quite read yours.

Dave Czirr
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Re: 1938 Trim Tag/VIN Info

Post by Dave Czirr » Mon Nov 15, 2021 3:09 pm

Hi Greg:
Packards were intended to be titled by a vehicle identification (VN) number and this information was provided annually to each state's Secretary of State for that purpose. In the very early years, perhaps prior to 1910 or so, they were called serial numbers but thereafter until Packard ceased production in 1956 they were called "vehicle numbers" and stamped or engraved onto a metal plate except for, as you note, 1938 where a decal was used. Although there were other identifying numbers like the theft-proof number, motor number, frame and steering gear numbers (some years), the VN was the primary number and it appeared no where else on the vehicle. Thus if a car is missing its plate or decal, unless you can identify the number from some old documentation or something similar, the vehicle number is not recoverable. The type of vehicle number you note with the first digits denoting year and chassis and second part the sequential number began in 1932 and continued to the end.

It was not until 1949 that Packard began to include the paint and trim codes on the patent or vehicle number plates, prior to that the information did not accompany the car but was only recorded on various corporate and dealer internal paper records, a sample of which I attach for your interest. But of the million plus cars produced by Packard, only perhaps less than 1000 of such records still exist and these are entirely the copies from a small handful of dealerships - all the corporare records have apparently not survived. So to determine the original paint and trim for your car, you'r best chance will be to find some traces of the originals on the vehicle.

In looking at the attached paper records, you'll note what was common practice on internal records at Packard after 1931 was inserting the paint code letter(s) between the two components of the vehicle number.

BTW, your patent decal (VN decal) is available as a reproduction from the CCCA.
Attachments
Vehicle Delivery Record..jpg

Greg Riv
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Joined: Mon Nov 15, 2021 12:49 pm

Re: 1938 Trim Tag/VIN Info

Post by Greg Riv » Mon Nov 15, 2021 6:16 pm

Thank you for the detailed information.

Greg Riv
Posts: 9
Joined: Mon Nov 15, 2021 12:49 pm

Re: 1938 Trim Tag/VIN Info

Post by Greg Riv » Tue Nov 16, 2021 11:16 am

Dave,
If one were to purchase a reproduction patent decal, what procedure is used to ink or stamp them in the same fashion Packard did?
Also, would the section for for naming the selling (or delivering) dealer have just been hand written in place by that dealer?
Greg

Dave Czirr
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Re: 1938 Trim Tag/VIN Info

Post by Dave Czirr » Tue Nov 16, 2021 6:00 pm

Unknown to me, perhaps a question for the folks reproducing them. There was a lot of difference in how the various dealers inputted data to the metal plates, some very professional using stamp kits the factory offered, some slovenly even scratched with an awl, and some left blank and I'd guess the same might be true of the decals. I've got photos of perhaps a dozen surviving 1938 decals, I'll take a look at them tomorrow and see if they offer any clues. If you don't see my follow-up in a day or so, give me a reminder.

Greg Riv
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Joined: Mon Nov 15, 2021 12:49 pm

Re: 1938 Trim Tag/VIN Info

Post by Greg Riv » Tue Nov 16, 2021 6:38 pm

OK, thanks

Dave Czirr
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Re: 1938 Trim Tag/VIN Info

Post by Dave Czirr » Wed Nov 17, 2021 12:16 pm

Best I've got of a legible 1938 patent decal, this on a Twelve; as shown by the VN this car left the factory as the 19th 1608 chassis destined for custom coachwork. I suspect there was a kit available to dealers to ink their name and delivery date as this information was not known when the car left the factory. Note that the Canadian-built cars never went to the decal but continued to use a brass plate.
Attachments
1938 patent vn decal Twelve.jpg

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