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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi, I was wondering how to go about trying to locate the original engine for my car. I believe it was a 396 350 horse car, but it was minus the engine and trans when my dad bought it roughly 20 years ago. I was shocked to learn that the engines have part of the vin number on them. I asked my dad who he bought it from and he honestly couldn't remember. He deals with different people every day so I can understand his forgetfulness over two decades. I know it was a Fremont car, but what would be the first step or steps to trying to find the engine? I have a 69 CE block and a 69 pair of L78's if all else fails so I'm not too worried, but having the original engine(if it wasn't blown up)would sure be awesome. :yes:
 

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I am assuming you are speaking of a 69 year model. Not much you can do except to post info that you are looking. There are a few of us that track vins and orphaned motors and transmissions when the numbers are available. I work the 1969 year models and if you would like to PM/email me the Vin I can check my fremont list and see if I have any info. An additional note if I don't have your trim tag info I would love to add it to my list for future reference. Hope this helps. good luck on your search. Take it easy Andy
 

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About the only way to find missing original parts is to track down previous owners.
You said your Dad cannot remember who he bought the car from. If there are not hints in the car (paperwork) then you are probably out of luck.

You might try placing ads in local papers but that is a faint hope.
 

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Why does it seem so common for these cars to be missing their engines? E-mail sent BTW.
Back in the day, it wasn't uncommon to tear up a motor. Not too many people gave a second thought about replacing one engine with another thinking 30-40 years down the road how much original cars would be worth.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Okay, I see this is pretty bleak. It wouldn't be SO bad if I knew the engine wasn't toasted. So, how many of the VIN numbers should be on the pad? The whole thing or a certain amount of digits? I can advertise on craigslist for it but I know that my VIN has a Z in it for Fremont, so maybe I can make this easier for people looking. No Z means no chance.

Also, what is fair value on that motor? My dad has a machine shop/race engine shop so I could rebuild a complete engine in trade plus some cash as some options.
 

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Okay, I see this is pretty bleak. It wouldn't be SO bad if I knew the engine wasn't toasted. So, how many of the VIN numbers should be on the pad? The whole thing or a certain amount of digits? I can advertise on craigslist for it but I know that my VIN has a Z in it for Fremont, so maybe I can make this easier for people looking. No Z means no chance.

Also, what is fair value on that motor? My dad has a machine shop/race engine shop so I could rebuild a complete engine in trade plus some cash as some options.
Partial VINs consist of (most of the time) the number "1" for Chevrolet followed by the model year, plant letter, and all 6 digits of the sequence number. The only thing never found are the series/model such as 13637. So it'd either be 9Z345678 or 19Z345678 where '345678' is the sequence number.
 

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A rebuildable 396 is not worth a lot. Someone knowing that it IS THE ORIGINAL engine for you car would jump the price up for you IF you can find it.
Remember, These cars were super cheap back in the day. Teenagers drove the crap out of them.
If the engine was blown, which 396's were prone to do when driven by a testerone ridden teenager/young adult, the engine was discarded and another used engine put in it's place.
If the engine was rebuilt, the stampings were decked off many times.
IF the car has always been in the neighborhood you live in and not changed hands many times, you might be able to track the engine down.
The engine could be in another car or truck, in a junk yard, someone's shed/barn, out in a field, buried in a hole, or been scrapped as junk metal.
Best of luck to you. Really.
If you find it, do NOT tell the person that has it now that it is the original engine for your car. If the VIN is missing on the block, don't even worry about buying it.
Hope this helps.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Everyone, thank you so much for your help.

Anyone have any ideas on how to advertise for an engine without showing my hand?

If ultimately I want to keep this car as close to stock as possible, what do I do for an engine if I can't find the original? Also, without a buildsheet how can I figure out what the car came with? The only thing in the car that helps me is a tach with a 5500 redline.
 

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It's your car without the original engine so just build it the way you want and enjoy it. I don't ever plan on selling mine so I'm not woried about getting the most dollars for it.
I paid under $3500 for my new '69 SS Camaro with a L89 in it and by 1973 it had at least 4 different engines in it. I know where the original went.........to the scrap yard with a fist sized hole in the number 3 cylinder.
 

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As mentioned, there are "orphan" web sites. I don't have a link, it's not my thing. But that's the best/broadest place to cast a wide net if you can't track down previous owners of don't know the cars history.
 
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