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Author Topic: 1981 Firebird Production dates Van Nuys CA (L Code)  (Read 493 times)

TATurbo

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1981 Firebird Production dates Van Nuys CA (L Code)
« on: January 17, 2020, 10:20:04 PM »
Hey everyone.
 I haven't been much of a 'numbers' type hobbyist mostly because the '81 TA I've been working on hasn't been anywhere close to a 'numbers matching' car in the 30 years I've owned it.  While I had researched my car's VIN and Cowl tag stuff early on in my project, for some reason I never really looked at the build date.
 Anyway, I just recently realized my car appears to be a really late build from the Van Nuys plant in LA.  So, I'm trying to figure out exactly how close to the end of the line for 2nd Gen F-Body's my TA might be.

Last 6 of my VIN are: 143706
The Date Code on the cowl tag is B 07B (1981, July, 2nd week).
Both the 'Execution' and 'Shipped' date on the dealer invoice from PHS show 07/15/81.

I found an article in the March 26, 1981 LA Times which indicates the 'planned' end of '81 production there was July 10, 1981.  The article notes:
"Retooling Shutdowns
At Van Nuys, about 3500 of the 4000 production workers will be laid off from July 10 through sometime in October while the plant retools
for 1982 Models."

And, I found another TA documented on Barrett-Jackson's website (VIN Seq #142984)
Which notes that car was "Built in July 1981, the final month of second generation GM F-Body production."
https://www.barrett-jackson.com/Events/Event/Details/1981-PONTIAC-FIREBIRD-TRANS-AM-2-DOOR-COUPE-161701

My question is this..
 Does anyone know an exact date the last 2nd Gen F-Body came off the Van Nuys line? 
 And, for the VIN Seq #'s...Where they essentially assigned sequentially as the cars were produced?
  Finally, Is there a date on the build sheet anywhere?  I recovered mine from the top of the gas tank, but its barely legible.  I might be able to find a date if I knew exactly where to look on the document.

Any input would be appreciated!


« Last Edit: January 17, 2020, 10:25:30 PM by TATurbo »
Tom
King of Prussia, PA

1981 Turbo Trans-Am
Build thread - http://transamcountry.com/community/index.php?topic=69897.0

firebirdparts

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Re: 1981 Firebird Production dates Van Nuys CA (L Code)
« Reply #1 on: January 22, 2020, 03:51:48 PM »
I love this kind of thing, but it's a challenge to make a whole lot of detailed observations.  Total production of Firebirds would give you the final VIN number at least approximately.  Since there were two factories, I don't really know how they split those up.  In earlier years they ran the total VIN numbers up to the total number of Firebirds, but I am not sure about that in 1981. 

I looked at my build sheets, subject to me being able to read them accurately.  I don't have many 81's.

I have a 136XXX on June 17th, Van Nuys
123XXX on June 12th at Norwood.

Production was very slow in the winter.

At the other end of the year I have 101889 on September 18 (1980).
« Last Edit: January 23, 2020, 08:12:49 AM by firebirdparts »
I want to be like Paul Kenny when I grow up
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1978 Redbird 305
1979 Redbird 301 4-speed
1992 Lincoln Mark VII LSC/SE (red)
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TATurbo

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Re: 1981 Firebird Production dates Van Nuys CA (L Code)
« Reply #2 on: January 22, 2020, 11:21:10 PM »
Thanks for the input 'Birdparts.   I see you included specific days of the month for your cars.  What exactly is that date and where did you find it?

It's sort of a silly thing...I mean, I know I don't have 'the last 2nd Gen'.  Getting more detailed than the 'last month of production' doesn't really make any difference to anything.  But, now I've got it stuck in my head like that "Baby Shark" song (you're welcome) and I really want to know! So, I'm still poking around...

I contacted Rocky Rotella, author of "The Definitive Firebird & Trans Am Guide: 1970 1/2 - 1981" after I found some '81 production info in his book. In the 1981 'Production Notes' section of "The Definitive Firebird & Trans Am Guide" Rocky included a picture from a GM Press release which indicates that "...the last 1981 Firebird" was produced at the Norwood plant on July 22, 1981.   But, info for Van Nuys production was less specific:

Production Notes II by Tom Sherer, on Flickr

I also reached out to Pontiac Historical Services (PHS, aka PHSMuslceCars).
PHS responded, but I'm pretty sure they didn't spend any time researching my question.  Their initial response noted that cars weren't build in "exact VIN order", and that they ran into the 145000 range.  They also suggested how one might come up with an actual date. Stating "...we would have to lookup the VINs at the end of production to find the exact last day."   
Naturally,  I responded by thanking them for the information and asking if it would be possible/feasible for them to perform the 'lookup' of VINs they suggested would lead them to the answer to my original question.   That was around 11PM.  First thing the next morning (like 8:20 AM) I received what I interpreted as a terse reply reading simply "Roughly 7/29/1981."     My gut feeling about this reply is that they were pulling a date out of their ass. (For lack of a better term.) That sounds a little more harsh than intended.  I mean, I have nothing against PHS, I greatly appreciate the service they provide and I'm sure they are nice people.  My prior exchanges with them (My initial PHS doc request and a brief conversation about availability of '81 window sticker reprops) were fine.  Maybe their researchers are early risers, so they actually did spend a few minutes researching my question that morning?  I don't know.   I suppose it's possible GM wasn't being super accurate when they announced the 'last 1981 Firebird' as being produced 7/22/81?  Or maybe that press release was just about the last 1981 Firebird from Norwood?   

Either way, now that I got this ear-worm stuck in my head, I'll keep humming along for a little while.   I'll let you know what I find.
« Last Edit: January 22, 2020, 11:43:51 PM by TATurbo »
Tom
King of Prussia, PA

1981 Turbo Trans-Am
Build thread - http://transamcountry.com/community/index.php?topic=69897.0

Maxthe222

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Re: 1981 Firebird Production dates Van Nuys CA (L Code)
« Reply #3 on: January 23, 2020, 12:24:08 AM »
I noticed the '81 on the roof of that trailer doesn't have a front spoiler on it, or is it just me?

To be honest, I think PHS could be organised a lot better. I think it is a bit expensive, and I think they may need to pass the torch onto someone.... uhhh... more lively. They still list on their website to fax the order forms in. And it's a bit clunky. And they don't have paypal. And the list goes on...
1979 T/A Y84 WS6
1979 F/A W72 WS6
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Wallington

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Re: 1981 Firebird Production dates Van Nuys CA (L Code)
« Reply #4 on: January 23, 2020, 01:49:57 AM »
They never shipped the cars with the spoilers installed. If they did, they'd never arrive with the spoilers installed. Imagine running it off the truck or trains down those ramps.

Maxthe222

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Re: 1981 Firebird Production dates Van Nuys CA (L Code)
« Reply #5 on: January 23, 2020, 03:02:32 AM »
I suppose that's a good point. Makes me wonder how mine haven't come off going up my driveway then lol
1979 T/A Y84 WS6
1979 F/A W72 WS6
1971 Formula 400 4-Speed

roadking77

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Re: 1981 Firebird Production dates Van Nuys CA (L Code)
« Reply #6 on: January 23, 2020, 07:36:28 AM »
Yea, I have a neat pic of a TATA being delivered with no front spoilers as well. I was told they were shipped in the trunk.
TOM, good luck with your search. I too heard somewhere that the serial no. was not necessarily sequential, but it should be close. From what I understand if they had trouble and a car had to come off the line that would change things, or if something special had to be added etc. I may have read that in Smoke Signals. It looks to me like your car is def one of the last.
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firebirdparts

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Re: 1981 Firebird Production dates Van Nuys CA (L Code)
« Reply #7 on: January 23, 2020, 08:14:33 AM »
I was taking exact dates off build sheets.   I have a bunch of build sheet pictures that I stuffed in a folder over the years . Some cars Brian and I owned, but most of them not.
I want to be like Paul Kenny when I grow up
Joe Bays
1977 Y82 4-speed (red interior)
1978 Skybird 350
1978 Redbird 305
1979 Redbird 301 4-speed
1992 Lincoln Mark VII LSC/SE (red)
1970 Datsun Pickup
1953 Chevy pickup (converted 4x4)
1988 T-bird Turbo Coupe

76 - 455 - 4

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Re: 1981 Firebird Production dates Van Nuys CA (L Code)
« Reply #8 on: January 23, 2020, 08:20:09 AM »
I had the same question with one of my '68's. I have a third week of July '68 build. Read in two or three places that '68 production ended 'early' July.
Never got anywhere with PHS or other sites with that one either. Comparatively, I also have a second week of '67 build as well. So one of the earliest, and one of the latest.
I used to be indecisive. Now I'm not sure.
I feel like I am diagonally parked in a parallel universe.
1968 400 convertible (Scarlet)
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1968 400 coupe - R/A clone (Blue Pearl) (for sale)
1968 350 - 4 speed 'vert - 400 clone (the Beast!)
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firebirdparts

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Re: 1981 Firebird Production dates Van Nuys CA (L Code)
« Reply #9 on: January 23, 2020, 10:21:05 AM »
The first firebird I ever had was VIN # 95, the 95th 1969 built.  The date code was 09B, September that year.  That's pretty typical, I guess.
I want to be like Paul Kenny when I grow up
Joe Bays
1977 Y82 4-speed (red interior)
1978 Skybird 350
1978 Redbird 305
1979 Redbird 301 4-speed
1992 Lincoln Mark VII LSC/SE (red)
1970 Datsun Pickup
1953 Chevy pickup (converted 4x4)
1988 T-bird Turbo Coupe

Re: 1981 Firebird Production dates Van Nuys CA (L Code)
« Reply #9 on: January 23, 2020, 10:21:05 AM »
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