Vehicle Identification Numbers (VINs) are the standard way in which vehicles are uniquely identified these days. Most (if not all) states in the United States use VINs to title and license vehicles. When Advance Design trucks were new, there was no such thing as a VIN. Instead, General Motors used a system of truck serial numbers to uniquely identify their trucks. This page will help the user decode the serial number on his or her truck.

I want to interject a cautionary note here. Over the years, when old Advance Design trucks were retitled, the agency doing the titling would sometimes use the engine serial number instead of the truck serial number on the title. This becomes problematic if the engine is ever swapped out. In that case, you have a vehicle on which there is NO number matching the VIN on your title. Also, over the years, the serial number plate might disappear. Because of this, you may have a VIN on your title that doesn’t match your serial number data plate or you may have a VIN that appears to be a correct truck serial number but you may not have a plate. In the latter case, many AD Truck vendors carry blank serial number plates on which you can stamp the correct serial number (so it matches your VIN.) In the former case, you are looking at a trip, or several trips, to the DMV to try to get your title changed to match the serial number.

Serial Number Location
“Truck serial number is located on the left front body hinge pillar, except on models with cowl less windshield where the serial plate is located on the left hand cowl side inner panel except forward control chassis serial number plates installed by the body builder”.

Serial Number Composition
The serial numbers on 47-55 U.S. made Chevrolet Advance Design trucks are 8-12 digits long*. They are comprised of two sections. The first section ends with the last alpha character. It is arranged in one of two distinct formats, depending on the year the truck was built, as explained below. The second section, all numeric, is the Plant Production Number, with the first truck built at a given plant receiving the number 001001.

First Section Order 47-52 53-55
First Assembly Plant * Series
Second Year  (E, F, G, H, J, K) ** Year  (Decade, always 5)
Third Series * Year  (3, 4 or 5)
Fourth Month  (A – L  for  Jan – Dec) Assembly Plant
Assembly Plant 47-52 Code 53-55 Code Series *** 47-52 Code 53-55 Code
Atlanta, GA 8 A 1508 J D
Baltimore, MD 14 B 3100 P H
Flint, MI 1 F 3600 R J
Janesville, WI 21 J 3800 S L
Kansas City, MO 5 K 4100 J N
Los Angeles, CA 20 **** L 4400 K P
Norwood, OH 9 N 6100,  6100S * V, VS V,   SV
Oakland, CA 6 O 6400,  6400S * W, WS W,  SW
St. Louis, MO 3 S 6500,  6500S * Y, YS X,  SX
Tarrytown, NY 2 T

* 47-52 serial numbers on 1-1/2 and 2 Ton Heavy Duty Specials may contain an extra S character as part of the Series code. 47-52 Assembly Plant codes may be 1 or 2 characters. 47-52 Plant Production Numbers did not include leading zeros.

** Except 47-52 1-1/2 and 2 Ton Heavy Duty Trucks, which used Q, R, S, T, U, V to designate Year.

*** Partial List. It does not include C.O.E., Forward Control, or School Bus. 47-48 used Thriftmaster or Loadmaster rather than this Series designation or it was not well known, as indicated by a cross reference chart in the 48-51 Chevrolet Truck Shop Manual. The 6500 and 6500S were first listed in 51.

**** At least one document for 47 specifically lists Van Nuys, CA and not Los Angeles as Assembly Plant location 20.

This info mostly from Jeff Nelson‘s and Don Moen’s sites.