If you are a vintage GM fan, you have seen ads or auction listings that tout the car is accompanied by documentation including a Protect-O-Plate, or a P-O-P. Hardcore GM fans know what this is, but the rest of us may need some enlightenment. So what is a Protect-O-Plate?
According to the National Corvette Restorers Society, beginning in 1965, General Motors automobiles came with an Owners Protection Plan warranty booklet that had a thin metal plate or plastic card attached called a Protect-O-Plate. It was issued to new car owners when the vehicle was delivered, dealers used these to track warranty work. A Pontiac Dealer Service Bulletin from September of 1966 states that owner plates called Ident-O-Plates were issued from 1963 to 1965.
The Protect-O-Plate was embossed with information specific to that particular car. Some P-O-Ps were embossed backwards, some in regular print (the Dymo Model M-14 Tapewriter printed mirror or reverse font, others normally). The P-O-P looked similar to a credit card. A series of numbers and letters included on the P-O-P would indicate the car’s serial number or VIN, engine assembly date, type of engine and horsepower, transmission and assembly date, rear axle ratio and date, exterior color, interior color and trim, month the car was built, type of carburetor, and any options. When the car was sold, the selling dealer would use a DYMO labeler (some would print in mirror to match the plate) to add the original buyer’s (or subsequent buyer, if the car was resold while still under warranty) name, address, state, and date of original sale to the plate.
The purpose of the embossing is so the plate could be used to imprint the information on service paperwork at the dealership. It was done with an old-fashioned “click-clack” machine, similar to what was once used for embossing credit card receipts.
If you find a car for sale with its Protect-O-Plate, you have a genetic code for that car. With a little decoding, you can find out all the particulars of the car when new. For those who are claiming original condition or components, a P-O-P can be a boon in backing up that claim, possibly adding value to the sale.