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Engine Identification


Rudy Korb
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Hi all. I'm new to this forum, in fact this is my first post. My problem. I have a 71 Avanti with the Corvette Engine and I need to try and identify it. The pad on the front of the block above the timing cover has a 17 digit code that has several numbers or letters faintly stamped, so it is difficult to read accurately. The first 3 letters are CEA. Any idea what they represent? Is there anyone else out there with a 71 model that has had problems identifying their engine? The whole number is CEA13702IV02112DH. Thanks, Rudy

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Google "small block chevrolet casting numbers" for engine ID info and parts interchange.

Jim Wood

Thanks Jim but I have been there before with very little help. I have some of the latter part of the VIN deciphered, but nothing on the 1st half.

Here's what I know so far.

V=Flint MI plant

02=February

11=Day of month

The stamped engine date code is D101, which I interpret as April 10, 1971. Too bad these dates don't match. unless the engine sat around for 10 months before assembly.

Since I don't know the date of assembly for the Avanti, that number 2 before the DH in the VIN could be for 1972, which could be very possible. Sure wish I had the build sheet for my car. Later, Rudy

Edited by Rudy Korb
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You can find your date of assembly on the sticker on the drivers door jamb...that should give you month and year of assembly. It should be below the lock receiver.

I believe the "CE" part of the numbers on the engine means "Chevrolet Engineering", though some say it means "Crate Engine" or "Chevrolet Engine". CE engines are those either used for warranty replacement or over the counter sales, which is essentially what Avanti Motors bought and installed. Crate engines could definitely have sat for awhile before installation in a car. I don't know if Avanti Motors ordered crate engines as needed them, or bought ahead and stored them until needed, to save money on a group purchase of engines.

At least through 1970, Avanti Motors installed first a 327 300 hp Corvette engine, then about 1970, the 350 300 hp engine, which is, I believe, the L48 Corvette engine. '71 could have still been the same, but that's about when GM started reducing compression ratios and hp ratings, though the L48 designation stayed the same.

I don't think Avanti Motors added the car's VIN to the engine ID pad, but they did record the engine numbers on the build sheet. You can get a copy of the build sheet from Nostalgic Motors. That should tell you if you have the original engine in your car. After this many years, your car could definitely have a replacement engine for any number of reasons.

I have a pretty comprehensive book on Chevy engine casting numbers and codes. I'll have to find it and see if I can give you a more definitive answer about your engine. It may be a day or so, but I'll look for it.

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You can find your date of assembly on the sticker on the drivers door jamb...that should give you month and year of assembly. It should be below the lock receiver.

I believe the "CE" part of the numbers on the engine means "Chevrolet Engineering", though some say it means "Crate Engine" or "Chevrolet Engine". CE engines are those either used for warranty replacement or over the counter sales, which is essentially what Avanti Motors bought and installed. Crate engines could definitely have sat for awhile before installation in a car. I don't know if Avanti Motors ordered crate engines as needed them, or bought ahead and stored them until needed, to save money on a group purchase of engines.

At least through 1970, Avanti Motors installed first a 327 300 hp Corvette engine, then about 1970, the 350 300 hp engine, which is, I believe, the L48 Corvette engine. '71 could have still been the same, but that's about when GM started reducing compression ratios and hp ratings, though the L48 designation stayed the same.

I don't think Avanti Motors added the car's VIN to the engine ID pad, but they did record the engine numbers on the build sheet. You can get a copy of the build sheet from Nostalgic Motors. That should tell you if you have the original engine in your car. After this many years, your car could definitely have a replacement engine for any number of reasons.

I have a pretty comprehensive book on Chevy engine casting numbers and codes. I'll have to find it and see if I can give you a more definitive answer about your engine. It may be a day or so, but I'll look for it.

Thanks very much, your help is really appreciated. The date stamped on the door sticker is Dec 71. I like all your definitiions for the CE part. They all make sense. I was not aware that Nostalgia Motors had build sheets. I just talked to Dan the other day on another subject. I will call him tomorrow.

Here's some more info I have about my engine. The alternator date code is 1970, the distributer is 1971, and the quadrajet is 1977. The next time I get under the car I will check the starter number. With all these different years it makes identifying the engine that much more difficult. But any additional info you can find would be very helpful. So thanks again for your help. Later, Rudy

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The build sheet info will be interesting. I am away from home at the moment, and will be for awhile,

so I don't have access to my "reference library" :>)

But, a search of the web came up with this hit that says your engine might be a replacement 307ci for a

full-size Chevy w/automatic (or possibly a Chevelle or Malibu or Nova, which used 307's)...

http://www.nastyz28.com/gm-chevy-codes/che...es-suffix-4.php

13702I is simply a sequential number used for replacement/OTC engines

That would probably not be an engine that Avanti Motors installed, which is why the

build sheet info would be nice to have. It wouldn't be unusual for the engine of a 1971 Avanti to have

been replaced (I have a '71, and I replaced my original engine about 20 years ago with an '84 350ci)

Where (what location) did you get the "D101 stamp"? Are you aware that there is a raised

casting number and casting date on the rear of the engine? They're atop the engine flange for the bellhousing...

IIRC, casting number is on the (upper) driver side and date code on the (upper) passenger side.

Head casting numbers and dates might give you additional clues, but you have to remove the

valve covers to find them (center of the top of the head).

Dan Booth may be knowledgeable on the engine codes, as he seems to know just about everything

about these old Avanti's.

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The build sheet info will be interesting. I am away from home at the moment, and will be for awhile,

so I don't have access to my "reference library" :>)

But, a search of the web came up with this hit that says your engine might be a replacement 307ci for a

full-size Chevy w/automatic (or possibly a Chevelle or Malibu or Nova, which used 307's)...

http://www.nastyz28.com/gm-chevy-codes/che...es-suffix-4.php

13702I is simply a sequential number used for replacement/OTC engines

That would probably not be an engine that Avanti Motors installed, which is why the

build sheet info would be nice to have. It wouldn't be unusual for the engine of a 1971 Avanti to have

been replaced (I have a '71, and I replaced my original engine about 20 years ago with an '84 350ci)

Where (what location) did you get the "D101 stamp"? Are you aware that there is a raised

casting number and casting date on the rear of the engine? They're atop the engine flange for the bellhousing...

IIRC, casting number is on the (upper) driver side and date code on the (upper) passenger side.

Head casting numbers and dates might give you additional clues, but you have to remove the

valve covers to find them (center of the top of the head).

Dan Booth may be knowledgeable on the engine codes, as he seems to know just about everything

about these old Avanti's.

Hi Wayne, I have ordered the build sheet from Nostalgic Motors, so by the end of the week I should have a lot of my questions answered, I hope.

I got the D101 on the rear flange on the passenger side. I cannot locate the casting number on the drivers side. I can see some markings, but no numbers. There is a raised circle of dots, about the size of a quarter on the drivers side. I also have a large metal piece that is fastened to the rear of the engine that is used to control the carb throttle, and it's possible the numbers are under this metal piece.

I'm not going to look for the head numbers right now, but if I should have to remove the valve covers, I'll get them then.

Thanks for the info. Rudy

Edited by Rudy Korb
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I'm by no means sure of this, but the DH suffix shows it to be a 307 engine. Chevrolet reused suffix codes at times and about the only way you can tell is by the casting dates. The DH suffix was also used for '65 and '66 283 engines, and also '58 and '59 Corvette fuel injected engines, so you can see how confusing it can be. BTW - if that was an original fuelie engine, some Corvette junkies would likely give you big bucks for it! Regardless, if the casting date you found on it is correct, it should be a 307.

You already know it doesn't have the original carburetor since it's from 1977. It sounds like your engine is a mix of parts from different times, not especially hard to understand with a 35+ year old car which could reasonably be assumed to have had parts replaced over the years with different and likely rebuilt parts.

If you have a mind to at any time, drop a crate 350 engine into the car. It will transform it. That's quite likely less expensive than rebuilding the present engine no matter what displacement it is.

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I'm by no means sure of this, but the DH suffix shows it to be a 307 engine. Chevrolet reused suffix codes at times and about the only way you can tell is by the casting dates. The DH suffix was also used for '65 and '66 283 engines, and also '58 and '59 Corvette fuel injected engines, so you can see how confusing it can be. BTW - if that was an original fuelie engine, some Corvette junkies would likely give you big bucks for it! Regardless, if the casting date you found on it is correct, it should be a 307.

You already know it doesn't have the original carburetor since it's from 1977. It sounds like your engine is a mix of parts from different times, not especially hard to understand with a 35+ year old car which could reasonably be assumed to have had parts replaced over the years with different and likely rebuilt parts.

If you have a mind to at any time, drop a crate 350 engine into the car. It will transform it. That's quite likely less expensive than rebuilding the present engine no matter what displacement it is.

At this point I am so confused about this engine, that I want to see what the build sheet lists. I just went out to the garage to verify the DH, hoping there was an additional letter, but that's all there is. Nasty says that DH suffix is for a 1968 307. but from the website "auto.howstuffworks", Avanti used just about every other CI chevy engine between 66 and 83, except the 307. This does not make sense at this point. I can't locate a rear engine casting number on either side. One side had the date code and the other side the clock symbol with the arrow. Even if I knew what the head numbers were, it could not confirm the CI of this engine. And besides, my date code is D101, so this shows the block was cast on Apr 10, 1971. Since this engine is in an Avanti and not a chevy or corvette, can we really be sure what all those numbers & letters really mean? They could be special identifiers for engines chevy made for shipment to other companies. I can't believe that Altman would only purchase a few engines at a time. With money being tight, I suspect he would order enough engines to get a good price break, but that's only supposition. By the end of the week I should have my build sheet and I will post the results. Thanks for your assistance, it is greatly appreciated. Later, Rudy

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R. K. -

And the plot thickens.

The block casting number is located on the drivers side - top rear - near the flywheel attachment.

Block casting numbers for Corvette from 70 to 79 are as follows -3970010 - 3970014

Heads for the same period

3927186 - 300 hp, 350 hp, 370 hp - 1970

3927187 - 350 hp - 1970

3973414 - 370 hp - 1970

3973487 - 270 hp - 330 hp - 1971

3973487 - 200 hp - 255 hp - 1972

3998916 - 255 hp - 1972

3998993 - 200 hp - 1972

3998993 - 190 hp - 1973

330545 - 250 hp - 1973

333882 - 195 & 250 hp - 1974 thru 1977

As for the carburetors used during that period - here are some pertinent numbers

1970 - Rochester #'s 70470202, 7040203, 7040207, 7040212, 7040213, 7040502, 7040503, 7040507, 7040513 - Holley #'s 3972123, 3972121

1971 - Rochester 7041212, 7041213 - Holley 398021

1972 - 7042202, 7042203, 7042902, 7042903 Rochesters - Holley 3999263

1973 -Rochester 7043202, 7043203, 7043212, 7043213

1974 - Rochester 7044206/207/506/507/210

1975 - 7045210/211/222/223

1976 - Rochester 17056206/207/210/211/226/506/507

1977 - " 17057202/203/204/210/211/228/502/504/510/582/584

Hope this does not confused the situation TOO MUCH.

Please be sure to post what the build sheet says is supposed to be in the engine compartment - then we can all speculate what the person who installed the 307 had been drinking.

But, Gunslinger had the best suggestion - if you have to replace the engine, "CRATE" is the ONLY way to go.

Thomas

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Thomas, your info is very helpful. My problem is that I don't seem to have a casting number on the rear drivers side. What I do have in the area between bell housing studs below the oil pressure switch is: (these are all raised) the letters D N T in a triangle with a clock face below that with 10 dots in a circle about the size of a quarter, and an arrow pointing to dot 5. Below that a small placque looking thing about 3/8" wide and 1 1/2" long with what looks like screw heads on the ends and a 3 in the middle. The passenger side has the date code D101.

My Rochester number is 17057282, which I interpret as 17057=1977, 2=emission code, 8=division and 2=a/t. The charts I used did not list a division 8, so it could be Corvette?.

The alternator number is 1100834 (which I can't find in any chart) and below that 0C6, which means 1970 March 6 and it's a 67Amp.

The Delco distributor number is 1112042 wihch I believe is a 1971 model.

So there Thomas, is most of what I have gathered about this engine except for some of the VIN numbers stamped on the front pad by the timing cover. It shows it was made in Flint on Feb 11, which does not match the casting date of April 10 71. So, another big road block. I was hoping for the build sheet to arrive today, but hopefully tomorrow. I'll post what I discover. By the way, the car was assembled Dec 71. Thanks again for your help. Rudy

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Rudy...

Your Quadrajet is not from a Corvette. According to a decoding chart, it's a '77 (you knew that), for an automatic transmission, Federal (non-California) carb...and get this...it's a Checker cab or marine use code! What specific engine it was made for I don't know...a 307, 350, 400, 454...the code doesn't break it down further than that. I guessing probably a 350 as 307's and I believe 400's were 2-barrel carb engines. Maybe someone can correct me if that's incorrect. I would have expected a Checker cab to have been a 2-barrel application as well, but who knows. That does leave us with a marine application it could have been (454's were and are popular marine engines as well as motorhome engines)

Your engine should have originally come with a Delco transistorized ignition and distributor. Avanti Motors began installing them with the RQB series in 1970 as standard equipment and, I can assume, continued that until about '75 when GM started using the HEI distributor in all production. So check your distributor and see if it has points inside the cap. It would still look like the standard Delco distributor with the window on one side...just no points inside. It would also have an electronic ignition control box on the right front inner quarter panel and wiring. If it doesn't have it it should at least have mounting holes where it used to be. My '70 still had that ignition when I bought it.

One thing I've noticed about Avanti Motors, at least by observation and supposition, is that they seemed to be behind GM by a year or so in using some items GM installed as standard. GM went to the alternator with an internal voltage regulator in Corvettes by 1969. My '70 had the old style alternator with an external Delco regulator, and it had its original Corvette 350 300hp engine. Whether this was a cost decision on the part of Avanti Motors to get a better price on older systems, or simply due to large buys of crate engines and accessories for a quantity discount I have no idea. It would tend to support the notion they bought crate engines in some kind of quantity and used them up as needed before ordering more, thus making for a time delay between engine manufacture and installation in a car.

I would love to see research come out with a definitive explanation on how Avanti Motors went about making such decisions...or someone still living with personal knowledge. It could go a long way towards answering those kinds of questions.

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Well Gunslinger, after your comments in yesterdays post, I have some additional news, some bad, some OK. The alternator is the old style with the separate voltage regulator under the dash on the passenger side. The distributor is also the old style, with points. I do have 2 HEI distributors, one of which I intend to install at a later date.

The build sheet did not arrive today, maybe tomorrow. I guess the post office is still trying to locate Arkansas. Anyway, I am not going to waste my time on any further research until I get the build sheet. You know that Chevy put a lot of 350's in motor homes and still does. I agree with you, I think Avanti used a lot of older style parts because they could get them cheaper. They certainly didn't have any storage space problem.

Thanks for yesterdays post, you seem to be well versed in the Avanti and its history. What website indicated division 8 was Checker or Marine? In all the websites I visited, only 1 indicated 8 as "not GM use". This looks to me like the most logical answer, since GM made engines for a lot of other uses. You agree?? Later, Rudy

Edited by Rudy Korb
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Rudy...

Here's the web page I found that Q-jet information <http://www.cliffshighperformance.com/tech_carb_ID_2.html>. I can't vouch for its accuracy but it does support the information you discovered. "Not GM use" can cover a lot of applications. You're correct about 350's in motor homes. Years ago I worked at an RV dealer and many mini-motorhomes came with 350's while the big class A motorhomes used 454's. It's quite possible your Q-jet was used in one. I'm guessing that carburetor of yours was probably was put in the "food chain" of rebuilt carbs for a supplier like NAPA, Pep Boys, JC Whitney, etc., and simply sat on a shelf until purchased and ended up in your car when that engine was installed at whatever point in time. Assembly line rebuilt parts are like that.

Your voltage regulator is under the dash inside the passenger compartment? That is unusual. I've never seen that. The regulator in my '70 was located in the engine bay which is normal. I'm kind of skeptical that was a factory installation, but never say never when it comes to Avanti's.

Let us know what your build sheet says when you receive it.

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Well guys, the build sheet(Nostalgic calls it a Factory Manifest), arrived today and all the supposition and hair pulling is over. The engine is the original and it is a 350 CI serial #V02112 DH, 1971. That's the only mention of the engine, the rest of the info concerns mainly the accessories and upholstery. It mentions the power steering, but not the power brakes. It mentions that the rear end is a Twin Traction (probably left over from Studebaker stock). So there you have it, the final end to this Engine Identification Post, which turned out just as I had hoped.

Thanks to all who responded to my plea for help, this is a well informed forum. Special thanks to Gunslinger for sticking with me all thru this topic. Now that I have this build sheet, I see the beginning of other topics to keep you guys busy. Later, Rudy

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That certainly clears up a lot of confusion. It shows the complexity of the engine codes when we all thought it was for a 307 rather than a 350.

Your build sheet likely wouldn't mention power brakes as all Avanti's...Studebaker and Avanti II's came standard with that feature.

Now the hard work begins...owning the car!

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  • 3 years later...

I have a 1979 Avanti with a Corvette engine and transmission.I has original blue paint and casting no. 3970010 and id. no. V1219ZAH. Do these nos. look original for that car? Serial no. of car is RQ-B 2894. I think it is a 350 engine with a 400 trans. I will have to pull the pan to see if it has 2 bolt or 4 bolt mains? Would also like to know the horse power. Appreciate any help or advice. Thanks.

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I have a 1979 Avanti with a Corvette engine and transmission.I has original blue paint and casting no. 3970010 and id. no. V1219ZAH. Do these nos. look original for that car? Serial no. of car is RQ-B 2894. I think it is a 350 engine with a 400 trans. I will have to pull the pan to see if it has 2 bolt or 4 bolt mains? Would also like to know the horse power. Appreciate any help or advice. Thanks.

The casting number indicates a 350 block. Chevy HP numbers from that era for the 350 are about 185 -225, so yours should be in that range.

The odds are you have a two bolt motor as four bolts usually went to trucks. In any case, that's not all bad. The 397000 block you have, if cast at the Saginaw Foundry, not Mexico, is considered a quite strong block and one of the favorites for building into decent HP numbers. Even better if it has 010 or 010/020 cast into the block, Which is rumored to make them high nickel blocks that have very good strength. Yes! the pan needs to come off to see if two or four bolt.

In fact, I'm building a 383 SBC for my 74 Avanti and I'm using a 1970 3970010 - 010 block for the build.

If you pull a valve cover and check the head casting number, it should help pin point the exact engine source.

Also reread the stamped #, Nasty Z28 has no listing of ZAH suffix.

Bob

Edited by Avanti83
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I have a 1979 Avanti with a Corvette engine and transmission.I has original blue paint and casting no. 3970010 and id. no. V1219ZAH. Do these nos. look original for that car? Serial no. of car is RQ-B 2894. I think it is a 350 engine with a 400 trans. I will have to pull the pan to see if it has 2 bolt or 4 bolt mains? Would also like to know the horse power. Appreciate any help or advice. Thanks.

If it's a Corvette 350, then it's an L48 which would be a 2-bolt main engine. The ZAH suffix identifies it as such...195hp, automatic transmission. L82 engines (225hp in '79) would be 4-bolt mains, but they weren't installed in Avanti's as standard but it's always possible of a special order or Avanti Motors got a good deal on some if L48's were unavailable for some reason.

The 010 block casting was used for about ten years in all kinds of production vehicles. Whether it was 2- bolt or 4-bolt was a matter of machining for the intended vehicle.

It's also possible it has a TH350 transmission behind it instead of the TH400. TH350's were installed in Corvettes by that time so it's possible the Avanti has one as well.

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Thanks for the info. The 79 engine does have V1219ZAH for an Id. no. was the blue color standard? I expected Chevy red-orange. Thanks again for the help.

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The blue color was standard...it's referred to as "Corporate Blue". Back in the '70s GM got into a big public relations mess when they began installing Chevy engines in other GM brands and Oldsmobile engines in Chevrolets...all without telling customers. It wasn't that the different engines weren't good engines, but Chevy buyers expected Chevy engines, Olds buyers expected Olds engine, etc. After that GM began putting information decals on cars and manuals that said each car could be supplied with a GM engine from various GM engine plants (don't remember the exact wording). Basically, it was a disclaimer and a "Get Out of Jail Free" card.

Because of that debacle, all GM engines, regardless of division, began being painted "Corporate Blue". This began for the 1978 model year though late '77 cars got blue engines as well.

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