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Understanding the Data Plate Date Code – Part 2

This Post is a continuation of the previous Post, Click Here to view it.

Pilot Cars:

Take another look at the way the Marti Reports’ present the data and think about it.

  • “Car SERIALIZED“; this VIN (serial number) is put on the order when it goes from Central Office and is stamped into the car’s uni-body or frame and body parts. The VIN stay’s with the car until the car dies in a junk yard and its title is turned into the state as junk.

Back in the early 1980’s when we were trying to retrieve the Talladegas’ history, a few others and I talked to some of the men who worked on the Talladega assembly line.  We also talked to a few workers that worked as Ford office personal in the plant. The question of the first five cars which were built on the assembly line came up. These are the cars we refer to as Pilot cars. They ran down the assembly line “back to back” before the regular “Production” run started. These cars were:






The men interviewed stated that Ford was concerned about the long Talladega front end and did not know what problems or conflicts might occur with them being built at the same time and on the same line as standard Torino/Fairlanes. Would they have room to run the longer Talladegas front end back to back? To be able to run multiple Talladegas down the line at the same time Ford made a special extension that was added to the front end carrier, sometimes called the “Horse Shoe”. This assembly included the Front fenders, radiator core support, grill and headlight assembly all in one unit. This assembly was one of the last parts to be added to the car as they came down the line.

Ford ran the five Pilot Talladegas down the regular production line to see how they would or would not work.

Unfortunately, some of the first Talladega front fenders Ford received were not very good as to the way the end caps had been added on. The hood fit and alignment as well as the lead work was poor. Because of this many fenders were sent outside the factory to a tent to be redone.

The five Pilot cars were run with a Bucked up date of January 21, 1969 this would be when they started the build of the Floor Pans and Bodies. The Build Date or “Production Date” as to the run down the line was January 22, 1969.

As a side note these cars were invoiced as follows :

-185753 to Ford Motor Company 1-31-69

-185754 to Stock Veh. Dept. 1-22-69 and later to Long Lewis Ford which ran a Nascar Talladega

-185755 to a Ford dealer: Carl Beasley Ford 1-21-69

-185756 to Ford Advanced Concepts / Admin. services 1-21-69

-185757 to a Ford dealer: Sheehy Ford 1-30-69

 But they were entered as 1-2-3-4-5 per the factory invoices.

(Some of the above cars were re-invoiced at a later date.)

We know two of the cars were pulled off the production line after the front ends were installed due to poor fit and lead work and needed to be repaired. If you look at an original non re-painted Talladega today the lead work will be bubbled up and of poor adhesion.

Two cars, 185755 and 185757, which were sent to dealerships for show and re-sale were the two cars pulled to be “massaged”.

Production Cars:

One curiosity is why the door tag of Pilot car VIN 185757 is stamped “Build Date 23 A” and the “First” “Production Talladega with VIN 186566 has a Data Plate Date of 22 A, a day prior to the Pilot car? How could the first regular production Talladega be built prior to the last Pilot Talladega VIN 185757? It wasn’t!

If you look more closely at the records of both cars you will see that both were bucked on January 21, 1969; Ford records show both with scheduled “Production Dates” of January 22, 1969; both cars were invoiced on January 30, 1969 and both cars were Released February 4, 1969. (Ford Records, Ford Invoices and Build Sheet’s and 999 Reports were used for these dates.)

As to the records: (Invoice entry numbers) as stated previously, Ford built the Five 5 Pilot cars as Talladegas to test fit components on the production assembly line. They then made the necessary changes assembly line before regular production could begin. After an ESTIMATED  809 Torino/Fairlane cars were built or approximately one shift (8 or 10 hour day) they started the Talladega production run with VIN 186566. This unit was followed by a list of Talladegas all invoiced around the same time frame.

How could 186566 have been built before one or any of the five Pilot Cars? Records show it could not have been by time frame of VINs and entry numbers per invoices. The later actual Build Date on the Pilot car is likely due to its side excursion for fender repairs.


The Data Plate on your car’s door contains very good information but one piece of it may not be exact. The part of the Data Plate that says “Date” is not a build date; it is an intended or estimated build date assigned by Ford when the car’s VIN is assigned. The information found on a Deluxe Marti Report includes a reproduction of the Data Plate but also provides the car’s actual Build Date (as stated by Ford) as well as other useful information.

We have tried to provide you with some additional examples to clarify why the car may have not been built on its intended build date and why we must use caution on reviewing any such information regardless of its source. We have seen Marti Reports with a car’s actual Build Date approximately a week prior to the Data Plate Date and nearly a week after. This suggests the “Date” on your Data Plate could easily be off by a week prior to or after the actual Build Date.



Some of my first and strongest memories from my childhood relate to cars. I still remember when things happened based on what car I was driving at the time. I grew up and lived in Iowa for nearly 40 years before moving to Southern California and now live in Tennessee. I was a Corvette fanatic for years but then re-discovered vintage American Muscle. My wife, Katrina, and I decided we wanted to focus on unique and rare muscle cars. After a lot of research we fell in love with the Ford Blue Oval Aero Cars. These were only built in 1969 and and aerodynamics became an important part of winning races. The only purpose of these limited production cars was to win NASCAR races using the Boss 429 and 427 power plants complimented with a special, wind cheating, aerodynamic body. The Ford Talladega and Mercury Cyclone Spoiler II are terrific and historic cars. This site is devoted to these car and their owners past and present. We provide an Online Registry for recording the long term history and ownership of every remaining Talladega, Spoiler and Spoiler II.

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