1968 Shelby Dual Serial Numbers

One of the more interesting features of cars produced early in the 1968 model year is the dual serial number. These dual serial number cars actually have two separate numbers stamped on the under hood Shelby tag. This should not be confused with the Shelby dealer order sheets which continued to use these unique numbers throughout the model year.

The first number is the Ford Vehicle Identification number. By studying the 1997 Shelby American World Registry, it has been determined that the dual serial number cars were all built by Ford beginning November 20, 1967. The final cars were built by Ford on or around December 8th, 1967. This group of cars was sent to AO Smith via railcars. All of them were among the very first 1968 Shelbys built by AO Smith.

It is not been entirely clear why Shelby moved away from the dual serial number concept. It has been confusing because some early cars have dual serial number plates, while others do not. I am sure two factory Vehicle Identification Numbers (VINs) at the Department of Motor Vehicles led to some confusion.

The second number closely resembles the the 1967 Shelby style VIN. This VIN can be broken down to reveal additional information about the car.

What happened?

Recently uncovered memos have shed some new light on these dual serial numbers. In an internal memo dated December 15th, Shelby indicates that the dual numbers were causing confusion. They specifically mention insurance companies, but almost certainly, with DMVs as well. It also indicates moving forward, only the single numbered tags would be used. Additionally, any cars completed and in storage at AO Smith would be changed to the single VIN number plates. The memo also indicates the company would continuing using the 1967 style numbers on the order forms. This created another issue. Some cars had already been shipped to dealers. A few cars were still in storage, on the AO Smith lots.

On January 15, a second intra-company was sent out trying to determine the disposition of the cars that had previously been sent to dealerships. A third memo, on January 25th, still had not determined the exact number of cars shipped.

On February 13, two hundred twenty five (225) replacement plates were sent. Thirty one (31) of those cars with the dual serial plates still remained at AO Smith. So, presumably 194 cars made it to dealers with the incorrect (recalled) VIN plates.

Car # 101 was one of the first 1968 Shelbys built. It has a single number tag because it remained at the factory.

The plan was the dealers were to be sent replacement VIN tags. The dual serial number tags would be removed and replaced by the dealership with a new, single number tag. The dual serial number tags were supposed to be returned to Shelby for destruction.

It is easy to see why some of these cars never got that change. They were likely in the hands of owners and dealerships had very little incentive to change the tags. Some of these dual serial number cars did have the VIN plates changed at the dealers, but many did not.