Buyer Beware March 2011
There has been a continuing and increasing trend of VIN and Cowl Tags for 1st gen
Camaros showing up on E-Bay and Craig's List. Add to that the availability of reproduction cowl tags, now more than ever people need to be vigilant on what they are buying. The Team Camaro and Camaro Research Group (CRG) web sites are keeping track of these suspect VIN's, so it is relatively easy to double check a car that you may be interested in by checking the Forum section of these sites. The items are listed in such a way that if you type in your VIN on Google, it should link you to the forum discussion about the car or number.
If you are buying a 1st Gen car, always, always, always check to see that the VIN plate on the dash matches the hidden VINs stamped under the cowl panel and the firewall. Also, there are lists out there that break down the month and year a particular VIN range was built. Double check this with the build date listed on the Cowl Tag, and other major pieces of the car. If the build dates don't make sense, it should send up red flags about the car's history.
Even if you are only buying the car for a Pro Touring or Daily Driver project - CHECK THE HIDDEN VIN's!! It will at least warn you that the car may have been stolen, re-bodied, or salvaged - and the VIN plate switched with a car that had a clean title.
If you are at all interested in Camaro history or documentation, check out the Tag Team section of the Team Camaro site. Some of the stories there are absolutely saddening and mind boggling. Also, if you may be in the market for a high dollar car like a Z/28, Yenko, or other dealer car, be sure to search the VIN on Yenko.net "Super Car Registry" web site. These guys are often the first to know when these cars surface, and have an extensive list of fakes and questionable cars.
A tip for those of you who unfortunately do not have the original paperwork or engine with your 1st gen, is to check the "Orphan's" Forum link on the CRG web site. This is a forum for people to list engines they have found that still have the partial VIN stamped on the block. People have also posted dealer documents and POP's that
they have found or have seen posted on E-Bay. This is a great site just to troll in and dream that you may find your original block someday. If you have an engine or block collecting dust in your garage, do the community a favor and see if it still has the build stamps on the front pad and possibly the partial VIN of the car it came
from - and post it. I know the Chevelle community also has an "orphan" site, as do
Here are links to some of the sites I have referred to:
I encourage anyone out there to do just a simple VIN search on Google. Just type in the number, regardless if you have a 1st gen car or even if it is not a Camaro. You may be surprised what you might find. And if you do find something interesting, please share! The above info seems negative, but there are plenty of Dealer, COPO,
and Performance cars unaccounted for, and most of these have Cowl Tag numbers similar to plain Jane cars. You never know!
Also, I have seen a growing trend of show cars referred to as "Day 2" cars. These are cars that have been modified, but with date correct and vintage speed equipment. For instance, period correct aftermarket wheels, gauges, intake
manifolds, headers, etc. This lets even old retired race cars compete in shows and classes historically reserved only for "all original numbers matching" cars. This has started to drive up the price of old vintage tach's, gauges, even old air shocks. Anything speed equipment oriented from the '60's and '70's. So if you have a set of old Stewart Warner gauges you bought in '71 but never installed in anything, they may be worth more than you think.