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1949 Jeepster VIN Numbers

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Also posted this in the general discussions forum:

Added a 1949 Jeepster to my collection, and trying to get her titled and registered in California. DMV is seeking “2” areas of VIN verification on the car. I only know of 1- under the dash above the glovebox. Any members familiar with Jeeps/Jeepsters, that can point to another VIN location? Or, a site stating that these only came with one area for identification?

Also, any info on engine ID’s and identifying when the JEEPSTER engine was born- or original to the vehicle? 

See attached pictures.

Thanks in advance for any assistance.. 





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Thanks for the reply- I posted the question to the WO/Jeep forum as well. Not having much of a response over the past week. My hopes are that California will accept the 1 VIN location if I print up as many single VIN references that I can find. Registration is from Connecticut and sold without a title (Connecticut doesn’t issue title in pre 1981 cars). I read reference to a secondary serial stamp on the hump between the front seats, but I see nothing on this plate. Pealing away a few layers of old paint. I’ll post a picture shortly.

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10 minutes ago, A. Ballard 35R said:

Owned several 1950's and only know of the single VIN plate under dash. There used to WO and Jeepster clubs but not sure if they are still active.

Agreed!  I owned a 1949 from 1981-2015, and have had a 1948 since 2009.  I also live in CA so I feel your pain in dealing with DMV; I'd rather have a root canal than deal with them on this kind of issue.


DMV (and the CHP verification officers) cannot imagine a time when there were not multiple locations of VIN numbers.  Besides, they'll be aghast that the serial plate was screwed on rather than riveted. You have the following choices:


1.  Call the DMV Public Inquiries Unit in Sacramento at (916) 657-6560.  They *used* to be collector-friendly, and *MAY* have access to the Secret Book of Hidden Serial Number Locations (pardon the snark).  What you want (because they won't tell you any hidden locations) is that they actually look in the book and find that there is no hidden location--and then tell you how to proceed from there.  Perhaps they can somehow advise your local DMV field office, or you can call a specific person at Inquiries Unit from the field office.


2.  Make an appt with your CHP verifier (last time, 8 yrs ago, they told me it was a 7-week wait for an appt) but ask them to check the Secret Book to see if there is indeed a hidden number (maybe you'll get a better person than I did--he wouldn't). 


3.  Use a registration-assistance company.  I've been delighted with Donna Leek in Grass Valley 53 zero tree for 6 ate seven ate wun or pro.reg.service@gmail   .com   A couple of years ago I heard that she had some health problems but that a family member was helping her with the business.  This is easiest and best and well worth the modest fee.


Moreover, when the Jeepsters were new, they were almost always registered under their engine numbers (U prefix on L-4 engines), compounding the problem today.


Please keep us posted.

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Excellent advice! I’ll start with the main DMV and work backwards from there. Yes- finding that tracing a Jeepster engine can ALSO be quite confusing. The WO JEEP forum couldn’t tell me much. There ARE numbers on the engine, so they MUST mean something, right?

Here is a picture of a spot where I was told that a serial number MIGHT be. Copper plate on the hump between the front seats. Was able to get down to the copper plate, but can’t see any numbers.. How about you?


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Do you have a 6-cyl or pre-1946 4-cyl in that car?  Because you have a *four* cylinder car serial number.  In brief, early 1949 Jeepster serial numbers began with 4-63 (4 cyl, 63 hp) and 6-63 (6-cyl, 63 hp); mid-1949 they changed to VJ-2 prefix (4-cyl) and VJ-3 (6-cyl).  The 4-63 and 6-63 prefixes were also used on 2WD station wagons and pickups, not so the VJs.  The 1946-49 L-4 engine number was behind the water pump on a boss on the block just in front of the front end of the cyl head, and began with a U.  The 1935-42 L-4 was as shown on your car, "on upper right front of cylinder block."  I can't read your engine number--can you please spell it out?


There are no "matching numbers."


I can't read anything on the copper plate but you might try a headstone-rubbing technique.


The MoToR Repair Manual shows differences for serial number locations among Willys models:  "1946-53 station wagon: on floor riser back of driver's seat--outside front end left frame side rail; 1949-53[sic] Jeepster: under edge of cowl above glove box door."  BTW, those are not the original screws holding your serial tag on, but I won't tell!


Mercer09:  You wouldn't believe the drill I went thru 8 yrs ago re-registering a 1939 Cad 75 after a 20-year hiatus, despite old reg in my name and a 1968 title in my name--and I have a unique surname.  CA is not easy unless a car is still in the system by means of non-op.

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See my reply in the thread. Yes, I thought that the 4-63 on my serial plate meant 4 cylinder. I too noticed that the plate screws seems a bit hinkey. Can you tell from the previous pictures what year this 6 cylinder is from?

Best I can tell from the stamp on the side- 61 130751

Top stamp CAST-  7 7 49 8.4?


As for the piece of metal on the hump supposedly with the serial number- seems it’s not brass at all. With more elbow grease, I’m getting down to bare metal. Still no number in sight. You mentioned On the floor riser “back” of driver seat? Dang, that will require taking the rubber mat out- hate to touch it, as the front did not come out in 1 piece, ?

ill keep the forum posted.

Thanks for the reply. 



Edited by DaveAspi
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Stamped engine number:  According to the MoToR Manual, 1950 Jeepster 6-cyl engines began with 12698, so that's a possibility.  The "61" at the front of the number MAY indicate the 161 cid engine (3-1/8 bore x 3.5 stroke, 6.90 compression ratio).  The first of the engines in 1948 was 148.5 (3.0 bore x 3.5 stroke, 6.42 c.r.).  By the way, that's a modern thin-wall casting engine developed during and just after by WW2 by Barney Roos, senior or chief engineer at both Locomobile and Pierce-Arrow in the 1920s.  On the other hand, the 4-cyl block started life in the 1927 Whippet and was modified substantially over the years.


It's not at all uncommon that L-head 6-cyl engines are transplanted into Jeepsters originally equipped with L-head (1948-49) or even F-head (1950) 4s.


I agree with the comment by Jack M in the other thread that you leave the engine number out of it in discussions with DMV.  Worst that can happen is that DMV assigns you a "Special Construction" number and a metallic sticker to apply to your chassis.

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Must be a 1950 or so transplanted engine then. The 130761 puts in that year s range if engines?

Thank you. 

I visited AAA and received a temporary registration, they want more “documentation” regarding the one VIN plate. 

Hind sight? Great car, awsome running 6 cylinder, BUT, really should have done my homework prior to purchase. Seller stated “original” 6 cylinder engine. 

Mire research to follow, or to be added by the forum. 


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