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Classic/Antique Car Repair/1955 Chevy 4 dr wagon - Identifing Engine & Tranny


QUESTION: Hi Brad, I was "told" by the seller the V-8 engine is a 283 and the Auto tranny is a powerglide (but I would like to locate the numbers on each so I know what I have to work with. Once I have these #'s is there a website (or whatever)I can go to with these numbers and be sure of what I have under the hood?

Very Much Appreciated,

(Novice Restorer) Age 62

ANSWER: Well if it has a 283 engine it is very rare indeed as all 55 and 56 Chevy V-8's were 265 cubic inch displacement. The engine identification code is stamper on a pad at the right front end or the block right below the cylinder head. There should be a number followed by F55FB if it is a 55 engine. Now if it is not get back to me with the numbers and letters and I can look it up for you to see what engine is in the car. Then we will work pout the transmission. The original transmission was a two speed with just drive and low ranges. Let me know.

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QUESTION: Hi Brad, Thanks for you quick response. The casting number I got from the engine is: GM 3849852 with the heads reading 188431. My VIN is VB55L 083872.

The transmission number (near the tranny dip stick) is GM 0709096. The tranny number at the "end" (where drive shaft fits) is GM 3708341 (the first "3" in this number may be an 8 (It was hard to read).

The 3rd member number is 3707806 (the "8" may be a 3. Is it possibly to tell what gear ratio I have in the rear end by the I.D. number?

I really appreciate all your help.


ANSWER: The number on the engine that we are looking for is not a casting number but a number stamped on a machined pad on the right front of the block right under the dividing line of the cylinder head. You need to read it from the front of the engine. The VIN VB55L is indeed a 1955 Chevrolet.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: OK Brad. Got it. Just to confirm when U say "right front" of the block, is that determined as if I am sitting in the drivers seat? (meaning my right hand side) OR is it when I am looking at the engine from under the hood (facing the front windshield)? I know that may be a real stupid question but I want to be sure.

Also, the engine is installed in my 55 so should it be visible once I scrape the paint off that pad?

Appreciate your time.


The drivers side is the left side of the car, that is except in England. And the curb side or passengers side is the right side. And yep get the paint off and you should see the stamping. The pad itself is easy to spot as it is machined nice and smooth.  

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Brad Sears


All automotive including antique and collectible. However if the car has been modified I can only answer in general terms and maybe get you pointed in the right direction.


Automotive tech instructor. Syndicated auto columnist 1970's though the early 1990's. Syndicated auto radio talk show, Ask Brad About cars, CBS Radio 70's through 90's TV Show "Last Chance Garage" 1980's PBS-TV syndicated. Auto instructor for the following companies: Fram Autolyte Holly Carter AMF Ford Motor University Of Conn Blue Hills Technical School Sugar River Technical Center Grew up in a family garage in Needham Mass and turned wrenches from the age of 14.

Manchester Union Leader, Nashua Telegraph, Motor Service Magazine, Yankee Magazine, Popular Mechanics (Saturday Mechanic early 80's), Los Angeles Times, New York Times, and lots more.

More than I care to remember. Basically Franklin Technical Institute in Boston, Northeastern University, Fitchburg State Teachers College, Tufts University, and a lot of factory schools along the way.

Awards and Honors
Moto Award winner. And much more.

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