Build Record, Dataplate, and PunchCard Decoding (1958)


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1958 Build Record, Dataplate, and PunchCard Decoding


This was only doable thanks to Philippe Courant, Chrysler Historical, the Online Imperial Club, and the Forward Look Network.



0 - Introduction & pre-requisites

1 - Reading the punch card and the dataplate

1.1 - Reading the punch card

1.2 - Reading the dataplate

2 - Decoding the punch card and the dataplate

2.1 - Decoding the punch card

2.1.1 - The main information about the car model, paint and upholstery

2.1.2 - The options

2.2 - Decoding the dataplate



0 - Introduction & pre-requisites

First thing to do is to order your build sheet record at Chrysler Historical. The amount they ask is not very high, and this will provide you with what I call the "certificate of birth" of your Mopar automobile. Please refer to the Chrysler Historical website for the availability and ordering process.

Once you receive the answer from Chrysler Historical, you should get in an envelope a copy of your build record sheet, also named "punch card", and the decoding Chrysler Historical did.


1 - Reading the punch card and the dataplate


1.1 - Reading the punch card

The card contains each piece of information twice.

- The punch holes: these are the little black rectangles spread over the cards.

- The printed & typed information.

What is printed and typed has a correspondent punch hole or series of punch holes.

Below, you can find mine, which is interesting as it's from a car that was exported new to France. Therefore, it contains a lot of oddities.


Click on photos to see larger versions



You will notice also that sometimes, the quality is extremely poor, as this depends on the way the card was microfilmed by Chrysler. Some are perfectly clear, others are a nightmare to read.

The printed and typed information:

What is printed is in fact the "template" of the punch card: it's like a big table with many fields. In the available empty cells, the corresponding options were typed. It's one digit only, and can complement a 2-digit option - like the "5" typed above the 44 option field (radio) making it the option 445, or it can simply be the last digit of the option - like 3 above the 303 option field (power seats, the option is thus coded 303, and not "3033").

Deciphering the holes:

This is in fact easy to do. It reads from left to right (by columns) and from top to bottom.

As one can see, there are rows of holes, the last row at the bottom corresponding to the "9" digit. So, from bottom to top, it's row "9" to row "0". Above the row "0", there are two other rows, usually used to code letters options (like the paint code).



Then, each hole matches a column. These columns are numbered from 1 to 80: you can see those digits at the very bottom of the punch card in a very small font.

Example: the first four columns (1 to 4) correspond to the Schedule date, which is 1111. That is shown by the 4 consecutive punch holes on row "1".



With a ruler and some patience, one can then decipher all the holes. Regarding the paint and serial number, it's a combination of holes in different rows. Here, only the study of several cards of different cars could tell what letter corresponds to which holes (reverse engineering is required).


1.2 - Reading the dataplate

Part of the information one can see on the punch card is replicated on the dataplate that is installed on the radiator core, one the right side of the car (on your left if you look to the car from the front).

The "template" of the 1958 dataplate is:



MDL     SCDL     ITM     PNT     TRM


0000   1 2  3   2600   4     0006     0


SRL     FOSO     5ABCDEF3343534G3
                            6               2940093   6



The first row shows the following information: it reads horizontally.

- MDL: Model number

- SCDL: Schedule date

- ITM: Item number

- PNT: Paint code

- TRM: Trim code

Second row shows the first "lot" of options: it reads vertically.

Third row shows other options on the part on the right, which reads vertically, plus two other pieces of information:

- SRL: the car's serial number

- FOSO: the Foreign Order/Special Order code


2 - Decoding the punch card and the dataplate


2.1 - Decoding the punch card

Regarding the codes, there are 4 main zones, as depicted in the picture below:

1- Motor, Model, Schedule, Item, Paint, Trim.

2- The main options list.

3- Additional options list.

4- Serial number, region and dealer code.

5- Date built and date shipped fields, engine number, key numbers.



2.1.1 - The main information about the car model, paint and upholstery

On the top left corner (zone "1"), you find the codes you will find as well on the dataplate that is attached to your radiator core. From left to right, the codes are:

- Motor, Model, Schedule, Item, Paint, Trim.

1 - The engine, for a domestic or export car with the standard compression ratio (10:1) is 632. Engine with the 8:1 compression ratio is suspected to have a different code (the current guess is 633).

10:1 compression ratio engine 632

8:1 compression ratio engine 633 (?)

2 - The model code (MDL on the dataplate) will depend on your car series and body style:

                                                LY1-L         LY1-M Crown         LY1-H LeBaron
2-door hardtop coupe                 612                   632                           N/A
4-door sedan                               613                   633                           653
4-door hardtop sedan                   614                   634                           654
2-door convertible coupe             N/A                   635                           N/A

3 - The "schedule" field (SCDL on the dataplate) tells you the day the car was scheduled to be built. It's the calendar date. For instance 1212 means 12th of December (1957). 0601 means 1st of June (1958). On mine, the car was built the day it was scheduled to be built, i.e. Monday 11th of November, 1957.

4 - The item code (ITEM on the dataplate) is a mystery. However, one guess is that it could mean the sequence number in the production plan: for instancer, item 435 and SCDL 1111 could mean 435th car scheduled that day (11th of November).

5 - The paint code (PNT on the dataplate) tells you the color your car was painted. The letters correspond to the paint chips you can find for sale. The first letter indicates the lower body section color, the middle letter tells the upper body section, and the last letter tells the roof color.

AAA           Raven Black

BBB           Stardust Blue

CCC           Air Force Blue Poly

DDD           Midnight Blue

EEE           Spring Green

FFF           Cypress Green Poly

GGG           Mandarin Jade Poly

HHH           Aztec Turquoise

JJJ           Spruce Green Poly

KKK           Satin Grey

LLL           Winchester Gray Poly

MMM           Mesa Tan

NNN           Sandalwood Poly

OOO           Tahitian Coral

PPP           Matador Red

RRR           Shell Pink

TTT           Garnet Maroon Poly

UUU           Bamboo Yello

WWW           Ballet Blue

XXX           Ermine

ZZZ           Champagne Gold

???           Special paint order

6 - The trim code (TRM on the dataplate) tells you the upholstery installed in your car.

LY1-L: "Diamond Glow", Jacquard cloth with metallic vinyl bolsters.

LY1-M (Crown): "Monaco", medium tone "crown" pattern cloth with light tone bolsters, broadcloth for sedans and metallic leather for Southamptons. Optional full leather upholstery.

LY1-H (LeBaron): soft, smooth wool broadcloth.

Model           Body style           Blue           Green           Tan           Silver           Red
LY1-L           sedan (std)             050               051              052             053             N/A
                    hardtops (std)           054               055             056             057             N/A
LY1-M         sedan (std)               088               089             090             091             N/A
                    hardtops (std)           058               059             060             061             N/A
                    hardtops (opt)           083               084             085             086             087
LY1-H               any                     062               063             064             065             N/A

Cars with a special trim ordered by the customer show a trim coded 888.

2.1.2 The options

Like on the dataplate, the options are typed on the punch card. That is what you can read in the upper center section (zone "2"). Some rather rare options may not be there, and rather typed elsewhere (zone "3"), like the option 306 (kilometer speedometer) that is not next to the more "common" options.

2.1.3 Other information

As you can see, the card also has several other types of information:

- Serial number (SRL field on the dataplate), typed and punched (zone "4").
- The dealer information, typed (zone "4").
- Special order information (SOFO field on the dataplate).
- Export codes, typed and punched (zone "3").
- Engine number, hand-written (zone "5").
- Key numbers, hand-written (zone "5").
- Date built and date shipped, stamped (zone "5").
- Other options or standard equipments (zone "3").

Serial number:
It contains the full serial, including the "LY1" that all serial numbers start with.

The dealer information:
There are 2 fields on the top corner. The "Region" (for instance, 90 is for Canada) and the Dealer code. Export cars (outside US and Canada) are likely to have empty fields there, like on mine.

Special order information:
This is an incremental number, and as far as we can guess, it tells that the car came with something special: export model, special paint, special upholstery or something else that wasn't "standard". For instance, Imperial serial #5248 came with FOSO #127 (export car), and Imperial serial #9170 came with FOSO #843 (special upholstery, TRM 888). Supposing that FOSO numbers were not shared with 1958 Chryslers, Imperial #9170 shows that around 9% of Imperials had something "special" in average, and that there was a "rush" in special orders between #5248 and #9170 (3922 more cars, but 716 special orders, denoting a 18.25% ratio of special orders!).

Export codes:
Cars exported outside US and Canada got special options, such as 591 for Export Tool Kit or 592 for Tubeless Tire Repair Kit. These are typed on the top center section (zone "3").

Other options or standard equipments:
Even if they are not on the dataplate, the punch card contains much more information, such as the axle ratio, the "drive" code (car's destination: domestic or export), the convertible top color, the generator type, the tires and so on....

Below you can find a summary of those options. This list may not be complete.

Group                 Title                 Code         Real meaning in real life

30                     Power                   303           Power Seats
                                                      304           Power Windows
                                                      306           Kilometer speedometer
                                                      307           Power Door Locks
32             Convertible top color
                    or rear speaker           321           Black top
                                                      322           White top
                                                      323           Blue top
                                                      324           Green top
                                                      327           Rear speaker (except convertible)
33                     Aerials                   334           Power Antenna
34               A/C & heaters             341           A/C, rear unit
                                                      342           A/C, Deluxe, double unit
                                                      345           Custom Conditionaire heater
                                                      347           Instant Heater
35                     Misc.                     359           Crankcase ventilation (export)
36                   Clock                      365           Flitesweep Decklid
38               License Frame             381           Licence plate frame (front)
39                   Lights                      394           Rear defogger (except convertible)
                                                      397           Auto-Pilot cruise control
                                                      399           Sure Grip differential
40                   Mirrors                   401           Left front rearview mirror (manual)
                                                      402           Left front rearview mirror (remote)
                                                      403           Right front rearview mirror
                                                      405           Vanity mirror
                                                      406           Accessory Package A
                                                      408           Hood ornament
44                   Radio                      445           Electro-Touch radio w/ power antenna
46                   Solex                      467           Solex tinted glass with shaded windshield
53 & 54           Tires                      531+549 and 532+549 mean 5 Rayon 9.50x14 whitewall tires.
55                 Axle Ratio                 551           2.93 to 1
57                 Generator                 579           30 AMP generator
59                 Export / Misc.           591           Export Tool Kit
                                                      592           Tubeless Tire Repair Kit
                                                      597           Lower Compression Engine
                                                      598           Firm Shock Absorbers - front & rear
61                   Drive                       611           Domestic
                                                      612           Export

Engine number:
This field is critical to verify that a car is a "matching number" or not.

Date built and Date shipped:
The built date tells the day the car was built. Here, it matches the day the car was scheduled (11th of November, 1957). Then, usually, one should find the date the car was shipped. Here, on this export model, the date is missing. Why, we do not know. Perhaps because it was an export model, it followed a special process (indeed, how to ship to some place when at the same time, dealer and region codes are missing....).

2.2 Decoding the dataplate

The dataplate is filled with codes that denote the options (and not the standard equipments). For instance, a Crown would not show the power windows code as they were standard. Compared to the punch card, the dataplate looks like a "summary".

Here is one (mine):



MDL     SCDL     ITM     PNT     TRM
613       1111       435       AAA     053

0000   1 2  3   2600   4     0006     0
43  7                          5         67     6

SRL       FOSO     5ABCDEF3343534G3
05248     0127       6               2940093   6



The first rows decodes as the punch card.

The second row here shows the following options (from left to right): 304,303,307,345,406,467,306. The codes are the same as on the punch card.

The third row shows the serial number and the FOSO number, and one additional option, 445. It decodes as on the punch card.


Text and Research by Frederic Mardon



This page was last updated September 13, 2015. Send us your feedback, and come join the Imperial Mailing List - Online Car Club