Thanks guys, I really appreciate your taking a look. I am glad to hear the pad looks good.
I actually had the chance to speak with a seasoned classic car appraiser whom I had hired for a previous car I was looking at in another state (and did not end up getting, thanks to his excellent report and findings of discrepancy!). I asked what he would tell a customer who hired him to confirm the numbers matching on my car, given all the documentation I have and the numbers that do match. He would obviously point out the numbers discrepancy, but he has seen several well documented cars (from a few manufacturers) with one number off on the partial VIN and would highly suggest this not affect their decision especially given it was a number that was inversed. More than one number would be a different story, but in his experience this is not impossible.
This has been an extremely informative experience, I have to say I probably learned more about decoding thanks to the whole discrepancy than I would have if the number had not been wrong. Thanks to all, especially Kurt and John. I know nothing is definitive, but I feel much better about this after all the detail we have gone into. I've already started putting some work into the car and am loving it. Looking forward to many years of enjoyment.