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Old 01-19-2009, 06:11 PM   #1
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Smile Engine ID - Determining what make/model/year

I am working on a project which involves a 3800 V6 being used in a custom trike application for a handicapped individual. The owner has already disposed of the car, minus the engine, tranny, subframe, wiring and ECM. The owner "believes" it came from a 1989 Pontiac Bonneville, however I would like to be sure before continuing with the project. How can I determine what make/model and year these components came from? The Engine ID below the water pump is 2JW304474.

Any help you can provide is greatly appreciated.
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Old 01-19-2009, 06:44 PM   #2
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Hope this helps.

Year of the block
What year is the block? At the rear of the engine at the top near the distributor hole can be found the important casting numbers that reveal the year of manufacture--the birth year. The fourth digit indicates the year of the casting. So, if you have examined the rest of the block, you can easily ascertain the year the block was manufactured. The other info in the string may be helpful, but is not usually to relevant. The first letter, could be A through L, signifies the month. A=Jan, B=Feb, and so on. After the letter are two digits; 01=1, 25=25. Remember the last digit is the year (0-9).
Where'* the engine code
Sorry, but you really can't accurately determine the year of the engine by merely knowing the engine code. You have to put all the information together to be certain. Pontiac used two-letter engine codes in different years in various cars. In later years, Pontiac added a corresponding VIN number to the block. Whatever the case, you need to examine the front passenger side of the motor. If the VINs match, that determines the engine option from the factory. Look to see what'* there. Based on my own observations and subsequent information provided to me, Pontiac engines began including VINs on blocks as early as late 1967. The first digit identifies the GM division. The number 2 = Pontiac. The second digit represents the year of the block. The third digit represents the assembly plant...the last digits match the sequence number of the car'* VIN. [This paragraph was updated 2-25-00 and amended again on 11-12-04.]
Putting it all together
For example, you come across an engine that looks pretty clean. So you start to check it out. You look at the engine code and see it has the letters WF. So you take a peek under the distributor and see several casting numbers but the last one in the string is a 9. This could be a '59, '69, or '79. You need to keep going. Look at the freeze plugs next. You look and see three (3). The equation narrows it to a '69 block. You look further, scrape away the grease and low and behold you spot the casting numbers 428 between the two freeze plugs on the driver'* side. A big smile erupts on your face, your respiration and heart beat pick up, you hear "Born to be Wild" in the background and your reach for your wallet.... Hello--come back. Checking a Chiltons manual that covers 1969 tells you that the motor was rated at 370, and powered a 4 speed Grand Prix.
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