How to Identify a 1969 Pontiac 350 HOby Floyd Drake III
Many Pontiac 350 cubic-inch engines exist, however, only a select few are the 350 high-output (HO) model. According to Car Craft Magazine, the Pontiac 350 cubic-inch was manufactured from 1968 through 1979, but the HO engine was only produced in 1968 and 1969 for certain Tempest and Firebird models. Since the Pontiac 350 HO is in demand and a rare find, locating and verifying certain casting numbers and production codes is necessary for proper identification.
Locate the engine production number or block number. According to Firebird, it is located on the front of the block, on the passenger side, just below the cylinder head. The number is six to seven digits long. Underneath the production number is the two-letter engine code.
Decode the production number and engine code. According to Pontiac Power, the production number for both 1968 and 1969 350 HO engines is #9790079. Between Pontiac Power and Firebird, the two-letter engine code is either "WK" or "WN."
Locate and decode the block VIN. It is nine digits long and located on the front passenger side of the block, towards the bottom, next to the timing chain cover. According to Pontiac Power, the first position represents "2" for Pontiac, followed by the last digit of the intended year of use and a letter indicating the plant of manufacture. The remaining six to seven numbers are part of the vehicle identification number.
Locate the casting date code. According to Year One, it is on the distributor pad toward the back of the block. The code is a letter followed by two numbers: the month is designated by a letter, "A" for January, "B" for February, etc. The following one or two digits represents the day of the month manufactured and the third is the last digit of the decade year. This year designation must be seven, eight or nine to be a 350 HO engine.
Find the engine block casting number on the rear of the block, behind the number eight cylinder. This number must be the same as the production number, #9790079, originally located in Step 1.
- Positive identification is made by locating, decoding and comparing these codes. This method exposes any casting number forgeries, which may be found on certain desirable blocks. All of these numbers must match the designations specified for the 350 HO. These numbers are exact due to the engine's short manufacturing.
A native of New Haven, Conn., Floyd Drake III began writing in 1984. His work has appeared in the "New Haven Register," Medford's "Mail-Tribune" and the "Ashland Daily Tidings." Drake studied journalism at Southern Connecticut State University. After working as a reporter in Oregon, he is now based back home in New Haven.