To help you with decoding classic car serial numbers, those numbers prior to the modern VIN system, we wanted to feature some sample decoding.
Before the VIN system was established and standardized the coding of vehicles was left open to each automaker. Below are some examples of car serial numbers with an explanation of what they tell you.
1967 and 1968 Ford Mustangs
You'll see a number that may read 8R01A113289.
8 - The car's year 1968
R- Where the vehicle was manufactured San Jose California
01- The car's body style, in this case a coupe
A- The Mustang's engine type, in this case a 289 4 valve
113289- This is the cars production number. This example means that the car was the 113,289th that was produced.
1969 Ford Mustang
Serial number may look like 9R01H162450
9- 1969 model year
R- San Jose California Assembly Plant
H- 351 cubic inch Windsor engine
162450- This was the 162,450th such vehicle rolling down the San Jose California assembly line.
1940 Chevrolet Passenger Cars
On these models look for an engine number stamped behind the distributor. The series of numbers ran from 2697268 to 3665902.
There is also an aluminum plate on the right side of the dashboard under the cowl. This sequence should start with either KA, KB or KH. KA meant Special Deluxe, KB meant Master Six and KH meant Master Deluxe.
Engine number located on crankcase behind the distributor. The serial number will look like FA-1001 to FA-825234
The car's serial number may look like 5 FK-A-2723
5- The car was built in Kansas City Missouri
F- Model year
K- Fleetline and Fleetmaster
A- Calendar month built was January.
2733- Started at 1001 up and indicates the car number of this type vehicle off this plants assembly line.
1969 Chevrolet Camaro
Look for a serial number that may read 123679N423711
3- L six engine
9- 1969 model year
N- Norwood Ohio assembly plant
423711- This is the individual car's serial number place on at the assembly plant
The car's engine number is found on the bell housing portion of the crankcase behind the left hand cylinder block. The number will be at least nine digits. Sample engine number will look like 7V 00001
This designates a Series 62 Eldorado engine
1965 Chrysler (All Models)
Serial number may read W153189475
W- Dodge Coronet Eight
1- Coronet Deluxe
5- 1965 model year
3- Jefferson Michigan Assembly Plant
189475- The car's manufacturing sequence number assigned at assembly plant. This was the 189,475th such car manufactured.
1962 Chevrolet Corvette
A serial number may read 20867S100350
2- Model year 1962
08- Corvette model
67- Two door convertible
S- St. Louis Missouri Assembly Plant
100350- Production sequence placed on car at assembly plant. This denotes the 350th such car produced.
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1970 Chevrolet Corvette
The serial numbers on the 1970 Corvette ran from 194670S100001 to 194670S117316
4- V-8 engine
0- 1970 model year
S- Assembly plant was St. Louis Missouri
100001- Production sequence number. The first such Corvette produced was 100001 and upward.
1957 Chevrolet Bel Aire
Your serial number may read VC57T10001500
V- Engine size is a V-8. If the car was six cylinders the character would be omitted entirely.
C- Bel Aire model
57- The model year
T- Tarrytown New York Assembly Plant
10001500- Production sequence placed on at assembly plant. This denotes the 1500th such car that rolled off this assembly line.
1966 Chevrolet Chevelle SS
Look for a number that resembles 138176A10000387
1- Chevrolet make
38- Model SS 396 cubic inch eight cylinder
6- 1966 model year
A- Atlanta Georgia Assembly Plant
10000387- The assembly plants sequential number. This was the 387th such car that rolled off this assembly line.
1955 Studebaker Commander
This car's serial number may look like 16G8-W6 and underneath 5999
16G- Commander and Champion models produced in 1955
8- V-8 engine
W6- Four door sedan body
5999- The 999th such Studebaker car to be built.
1961 Mercury Comet
Serial number will look like 1H11S800212. Underneath these numbers and characters might read 62AM-145A15B13
1-1961 model year
H- Lorain Ohio Assembly Plant
11- Two door sedan body series
S- 144 cubic inch six cylinder engine
800212- Production sequence number. The 212th such Mercury Comet to be built at this assembly plant.
Bottom set of characters and numbers...
62- Two door sedan body
AM-1- Body color ID Black/White
45A- Trim code Red
15- Day of the month
B- Month of the year February
1- Transmission code reflects standard
3- Rear axle ratio code that denotes 3.10: 1