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Frequently Asked Questions

History of the VIN number  


VIN Before 1950 

Prior to 1950, VINs only acted as a serialization. The first characters of the VIN often identified the Make and Model. The remainder of the numbers identified the model year. Some manufacturers identified the assembly plant and the number of cylinders that the engine had. 


VIN from 1950 to 1980

Around 1950 American automobile manufacturers began stamping and casting identifying numbers on cars and their parts. The obvious purpose was to give an accurate description of the vehicle when mass production numbers were starting to climb in very significant numbers. As years progressed, manufacturers increased the scope of the VIN. Information available varied from manufacturer to manufacturer and from year to year. As we progressed into the late 1950s, 1960s and 1970s manufacturer's VIN information increased. The type of information often available included year, make, model, body style, engine and what assembly plant that the car was manufactured at. In addition the Body Plate included codes for paint, trim, rear end, transmission, price class, body type, build date, etc.


VIN beginning 1981

All cars and light trucks built beginning in 1981 have a unique 17-character VIN that provides access to valuable information about that vehicle's history.  Use CarFax.com to find the history of these newer vehicles (Ad).


FAQ #2 - where does the data come from?

Hard to find original manufacture documentation.

FAQ #3 - privacy statement


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