How to restore a data plate

February 1, 2009 | By Richard Prince


There is a small oval-shaped data plate on the firewall of my 1948 Chevy pickup truck that was installed by the selling dealer. It gives the motor number and date sold. In my case the truck was sold on February 6, 1948.

I would like to have this little tag restored and I have searched through various sources, including the Internet, but can’t find anyone who performs this service. Do you know of someone who may be able to restore this? (I’ve enclosed a photo of the plate so you can see what needs to be done.)


This is a relatively simple task that any experienced auto restorer can handle.

Some careful hammer and dolly work will straighten out the bent-up ends without distorting the raised type and edges.

Very lightly polishing the tag will restore a luster to the raised-up, bare metal surfaces without rounding over the edges.

There are various ways to repaint the recessed portions of the tag. You can put a very light coat of grease on the raised (unpainted) surfaces, spray the entire thing with a thin coat of semi-gloss black, wait for the paint to dry and then wipe the grease off to leave the raised areas bare. Another viable technique is to mask over the stamped-in engine number and delivery date to prevent paint from getting into them and then lightly spray painting everything else. Once the paint dries, remove the tape and place the tag face down on a sheet of superfine sandpaper (#2000 grit, for example) that’s on top of a hard, smooth and extremely flat surface such as a granite countertop. A few swipes on the sandpaper should remove the paint from the raised surfaces.

In addition to just about any good auto restorer, a jewelry maker can likely accomplish the restoration of your tag as well.