By Mark Shindler #10010122 • Richmond, B.C., Canada
1955-1957 CHEVROLET COWL TAG PAINT NUMBER SUFFIX CODES EXPLAINED For years the ’55-’57 paint code suffixes have been somewhat a mystery. Now through countless hours of research and data collection, Mark Shindler has provided some answers! We believe that until proven different, this is valid information. Thanks Mark for sharing these paint suffixes! In the 1955 through 1957 Chevrolet model years, various paint number suffix letter codes were used and these are seen after the paint number on the cowl tag on all American-built passenger cars. The three digit paint number tells whether the
car came from the factory as a solid color or if it was two-toned. The three digit paint number also tells what the original solid color was or what colors were in the two-tone combination. The single suffix letter that follows the three digit paint number is a pattern code and it tells the original layout of the color or colors over the body. This group of letter codes took effect at the start of the 1956 model year. However, there was also one different singular code that was used in the 1955 model year.
1955 Model Year: Previous to the 1955 model year, all factory painted two-tones were done in a 'Capped' type of style - where the roof was painted a different color than the entire rest of the body below it. For 1955, the letter 'S' is commonly seen on certain Bel Air models and it indicates that the car was painted at the factory in the new 'Special Speed-Line Styling' type of two-tone paint layout - where the roof, as well as the top of the quarter panels and the rear of the car, were painted a different color than the rest of the body. This 'Special Speed-Line Styling' type of two-toning was added as a second available two-tone option to supplement the 'Capped' style. Note that this 'S' style of paint treatment was available from the factory throughout the entire 1955 model year and supposedly only on Bel Air models - except as mentioned in 'NOTE 3' below. Also note that this paint treatment was originally only available on sport coupes (2-door hardtops) and convertibles for the first half of the model year. Due to overwhelming positive response from the public and increasing pressure from Chevrolet dealers, officially as of April 1st, 1955, this 'S' paint treatment also became available from the factory on Bel Air 2-door and 4-door sedans as well. NOTE 1: The 'Capped' style of two-toning was available throughout the entire 1955 model year - even on Bel Air models. It appears that not very many Bel Air sedans
manufactured after approximately mid-March 1955 continued to come in the 'Capped' style of two-tone. It also appears that throughout the entire model year, not very many Bel Air sport coupes came from the factory in the 'Capped' style of two-tone. NOTE 2: 1955 '150' models could not be properly two-toned in any way other than the 'Capped' style due to their complete lack of side trim. NOTE 3: It is currently believed that no 1955 '210' models (all body styles) came from the factory with the 'S' code two-tone treatment - except for the mid-year released '210' sport coupe, which was supposedly available with it. NOTE 4: Any 1955 Chevrolet that has a three digit paint number on the cowl tag that indicates a two-tone combination, but it is not followed by the 'S' suffix letter, would have come from the factory in the 'Capped' style of painting - unless there was an error made (an omission of the letter 'S') in the stamping of the tag. NOTE 5: Since the 'S' style of two-toning turned out to be so really widely popular, a huge proportion of Chevrolet Dealers painted all models and body styles of both '210' and Bel Air passenger cars in that style of two-tone - from early-on and throughout the entire model year, when they were still new and had not yet been delivered to the first owner. This was done because of customer requests, as well as on spec, to make their inventory easier to sell.
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1956 Model Year: The suffix letter 'S' was discontinued at the start of 1956 model year production and was no longer used at all. Instead, a new series of paint number suffix codes were used on the 1956 cowl tags and they were: 'A', 'B', 'C', 'D', and 'E'. Suffix letter 'A' indicated a solid one color factory paint job on all models and body styles ('150', '210', and Bel Air). Suffix letter 'B' indicated a 'Capped' style of two-toning on both '150'
1957 Model Year: The suffix letters that were used throughout the 1956 model year were carried over and used again throughout the 1957 model year as well - with the exception of suffix letter 'B', which was not used at all because the 'Capped' style of two-toning was no longer available from the factory for 1957. Once again, suffix letter 'A' indicated a solid one color factory paint job on all models and body styles ('150', '210', and Bel Air). Suffix letter 'C' indicated the normal style of two-tone pattern layout that was used on '210' models only. Suffix letter 'D' indicated the normal style of two-tone pattern layout that was used on Bel Air models only. Suffix letter 'E' indicated the
and '210' models. The 'Capped' style of two-toning was not used on 1956 Bel Air models. Suffix letter 'C' indicated the second (non-'Capped') style of two-tone pattern layout that was used on '210' models only. Suffix letter 'D' indicated the normal style of two-tone pattern layout that was used on Bel Air models only. Suffix letter 'E' indicated the second (non-'Capped') style of two-tone pattern layout that was used on '150' models only.
normal style of two-tone pattern layout that was used on '150' models only. NOTE: In the 1957 model year and on factory two-toned Bel Air models only - just because of how all of the various side trim is on them - they did essentially end up being painted in the 'Capped' style of two-tone. Realistically, and in retrospect, it would seem to have made more sense to have used the suffix letter 'B' on all two-toned 1957 Bel Air models instead of using the suffix letter 'D' - but for whatever reason, the factory chose to continue on with the way that they had coded the two-toned Bel Air models in the 1956 model year.
To directly contact Mark e-mail: email@example.com Telephone: 604-277-0962 (Pacific Time Zone) CHEVY Classics May 2011 11