The Mystery Aluminum Tag

The Mystery Aluminum Tag

Submitted by contributing writer; Jay Salser

Donald Garabedian's Story began with the purchase of a Brand New 1967 Zenith Blue Beetle.

Photograph Number 1 is of the Original Owner’s Glove Box Manual for Donald’s 1967 Beetle.

Photo Number Two is an Instruction Sheet which came with the car describing some services and reminders—a truly neat piece to have saved.
My history with Donald began in June of 2022.  Donald contacted Eric Shoemaker at the then (now with a question about a “Simple Aluminum Tag” which had come with the purchase of his '67 Beetle. 
“What is it?” was Donald's question. 
Eric copied to me and my brain tried to process the origin and meaning of “the tag”.  I confessed that the only “tag” with which I was familiar came on the Carburetor of each new Air-cooled Volkswagen.
Donald interjected that the Tag was stamped with 6 digits of unknown meaning.  If you have been following my articles for very long, you know what I did next—yes, I contacted David Brown, the retired VW-trained Parts Specialist.  David immediately shot back a response.
“Have Donald to check the Tag against the Chassis VIN—the last 6 digits,”  he told me.  I wrote Donald and—sure enough, the digits on his Tag matched the last 6 digits of his Chassis VIN (and Aluminum Tire-well Body VIN Tag).  (Note:  1968 and later VINs consist of more digits)

Photo Number 3 is the Window Sticker showing the VIN of Donald’s new 1967 Beetle.

Photograph Number 4 is the inside page of the Owner’s Glove Box Manual which, again, documents the VIN.

Photograph Number 5 is the Front of the VIN Key Tag

Photograph Number 6 shows the back of the Key Tag.
We had an answer now and an article in the making. 
Donald and I lost contact for months.  Meanwhile, Richard Marcoux of Nebraska, told me about the Tag which came with his 1967 Beetle.  Yes—it was one of THOSE Tags. 
In order to keep Keys and Cars together, transporters of the new VWs had a Tag with the Keys for each new  VW—stamped with those last Digits of the Chassis VIN.  It was a way—THE way—to prohibit Keys and Cars from becoming mixed up--separated during delivery from the Factory.
Eric published an article documenting the Key Tags, based upon information gleaned from David Brown and Richard Marcoux.
Now, almost two years later—Donald and I reconnected.
Here is Donald's Story:
“I’m the original owner of the VW.  I purchased it in February of 1967.  Not because I knew it was going to become a classic, but because I was going back to college in September of ’67 to complete my college degree.  I wanted a car that was going to be dependable and was going to be fuel efficient.

I was very concerned because gas had just increased from $.25  to $.35 a gallon.  The car I traded in, to get the VW, always has been my favorite.  It was a yellow, 1964 Chevy II, with a factory-installed 283 cubic inch V8 with a four speed manual transmission. It was a lot of fun to drive.

I drove the VW back and forth to San Francisco State University for three years.  Met my wife at school and got married in 1972.  Took the VW on our honeymoon.  In ‘73, we had our first daughter.  In ‘74 we had our second daughter. 

The VW became the wife’s car. 

The kids traveled in the back seat with a limited number of restraints.  A favorite snack of theirs, while traveling with their mom, was Cheerios.  I still find them under the rear seat, where they ended up when the kids dropped them.

In 1982, I was transferred to Los Angeles.  I towed the Beetle to L.A. and put it into the garage, since I was given a company car.  The VW never was driven much after the move.  We were busy with jobs and raising the kids, so the car stayed in the garage. On occasion, I would buy a battery and drive it around, but the battery usually went dead because of no activity.

Five or six years ago, I decided to fix it so I could use it as a daily driver.  There was a garage that worked on VW’s--about ten miles from my house.  I had to have it towed to the shop because the emergency brakes had bonded to the drums. No one told me to release the E brake if you’re to store the Beetle.  After I got it running, I took the VW to a body shop and had dings and dents taken out and those areas primered.  The VW went back into the garage where it sat for another two or three years. 

About a year ago, I decided that I wanted to use the car as a daily driver.  So, with the help of a shop that specializes in VW’s, I had all the mechanics (drive train) checked and repaired (if required).  I’ve had a lot of fun driving it around town.  People always give me a thumbs-up when they see me.

This year (or early next year) I want to have the car repainted, Zenith Blue of course, and have the upholstery redone. These are expensive fixes, so there is no rush to have them completed.”

Donald sent his Key Tag to me so that I could photograph and personally examine it.   It is the only one which I have seen in person.  I returned it to Donald, of course.

While working with Donald, I was contacted by Jody Sauvageau, Owner of an outstanding VW Blue 1967 Beetle and Contributor to the former  Jody is a Locksmith, working with VW Owners to cut Keys and to repair various Locking Mechanisms, including the repair of Ignition Switches.

Jody reported his recent acquisition of "a very correct" 1967 Ruby Red Beetle.  He said about his purchase:

“I bought a very original and complete Ruby Red '67 Beetle this week and guess what was in the Glove Box?  A VIN Key Tag. I immediately thought of you and your story. Notice in the pics that the numbers were stamped on the wrong side making the VW logo upside down. A cool little piece of history. I think the VIN is pretty cool too.”

 Photo Number 7 shows the Chassis VIN of Jody’s latest acquisition. Note the last 6 Digits of the VIN and compare with the following photographs.


 Photographs Numbers 8 and 9 show the front and back of Jody’s VIN Key Tag
Jody continues…

“My plan is to do a ‘preservation’ to this Ruby '67. There also is something special under the Hood that may interest you and '67 Beetle followers. A small paper Inspector’s (Profur) Tag under the Paint Code Decal. This is only the second time I’ve seen one, the first being on an original low mileage Black '68 AutoStick Bug I once owned. Same Tag, same spot. How this survived 57 years I’ll never know. This car also has its original Continental Spare Tire with the factory 2-hole Wheel Weights. That could be a story of  itself. One more thing I’ve never heard anyone talk about—the original Continental Valve Stem Caps, (the Horse Logo is atop). This car has it, lol. I have one on my Blue '67 Spare, but no one ever has mentioned it. Just getting very technical now on a very minute detail. This car also has nice untouched Wiring behind the Dash, which could contribute to stories as well as other details. Just let me know and I’ll be happy to provide photos to help the '67 Community.” 

Photographs Numbers 10 and 11 show the Body VIN Aluminum Tag as well as the Paint Decal (Rubin L 456) and the Inspection Sticker (Profur).
Roger Moore, a former VW Dealership employee, pointed out that it is unlikely that the Key Tags were summarily issued to new Volkswagen owners at the time of sale.  In other words—a Dealership might or, more likely, would NOT pass the Key Tag to the new owner.  This probably accounts for the scarcity of these Tags.  In other words, things like Key Tags were “bookkeeping” items which did not concern the customers.  Thank you for this information, Roger!
Thank you, Donald, for sending your Rare VIN Key Tag to me so that I actually could handle it. I was elated!
Jody—thank you for picking up on this thread and contributing even more supporting evidences!
I have worked with the owners of 3 VIN Key Tags.  The manner of stamping varies among their Tags.  This causes me to believe that all of the Tags were stamped with the VW Logo prior to being handled for specific VIN Stampings.  I believe that since the “important” matter at hand was the appropriate VIN, there was no need to coordinate the VIN Stamping with the VW Logo Stamping.   Therefore, the direction/side of the VIN Stamping apparently did not matter.

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