M38A1 Serial Numbers
YOUR Vehicle's History... PLEASE READ!
Due to the volume of emails I receive regarding the M38A1, I do not perform history searches for the vehicles.
Data Plate. Start with the data plate located on the passenger side dash just under the 'grab bar'. This is the first and easiest place to see if the plate is intact with the serial number, date of delivery (DOD) and inspector's initials. Be aware that these plates could have been swapped from vehicle to vehicle to represent an 'original' or 'authentic' matching numbers vehicle. They are also available in reproduction as are the backing plates and rivets.
Paint and Markings. You might possibly be able to find your numbers by lightly sanding down the front bumpers with VERY FINE sandpaper until you can read the unit markings. It's a long shot but many people, including myself, have identified where their vehicle came from by this method. From there, you do an ordinary internet search on the unit etc. You can also try the same process on each of the rear bumperettes.
The hood can be done in the same manner to find the major branch (ie: US ARMY , NAVY, USMC etc) and the number identified with that vehicle. However - there are no records relating hood numbers to vehicle numbers and service locations or dates to my knowledge.
Rebuild Tags. Also, look inside the engine bay area and search for little 1" triangle aluminum tags. These were 'rebuild' tags placed on items such as the carburetor, distributor, voltage regulator, generator set etc when maintenance was performed on those items. They are stamped with a date and location (usually CSMS-Location) where the work was performed. There may also be some other stenciling inside the hood to give some clues.
The Patent Plate is probably the BEST indicator of the true Serial Number since it's located in a spot that is not easy to find once painted over like most have been over the years. It is located behind the passenger seat frame on the leading or forward edge of the tire well. It's affixed with sheet metal screws in the top left corner if it's still there. Most are but covered with layer upon layer of various colors of paint. (Try Tolulene or Zylene and a rough washcloth to remove the paint to reveal the numbers)
About my vehicle...
The history of this jeep can be traced back to the 45th Brigade, 145th Group. The "Thunderbirds" 45th ID. From there, it served as a unit of the Civil Defense program. After that service, it was released to the public and was used on a pecan farm until acquired by me for restoration. Quite possibly there was a stint in a fire brigade somewhere as there was red paint in the bed under some OD. We also restored a model M416 trailer manufactured by Johnson Furnace and delivered in April '66 to the US ARMY. The trailer's history however is unknown.