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Understanding The VIN Number of Your Lamborghini

Vin Number On GallardoThe United States Department of Transportation created a consistent, unified VIN system in 1981. Specifically, it included the VIN system in the Code of Federal Regulations, Title 49, Chapter V, Part 565. Prior to 1981, auto manufacturers used their own numbering system to stamp cars with unique IDs.

Fig 1 VIN number plate shown in a Gallardo.

The VIN system conforms to a standard developed by the International Organization for Standardization in 1977, (ISO 3779). Manufacturers use all letters and numbers, with the exception of the letters I, O and Q in VIN's. VIN numbers can be  placed at many locations in your car. One location is always at the base of your windscreen in front of the steering wheel as shown in Figure 1.

The VIN Numbering Format For All Cars:
Each character in a VIN has a specific meaning. The VIN is broken up into sections.
                         1 2 3      4 5 6 7 8    9    10    11     12 13 14 15 16 17
The first section (1-3)  identifies the manufacturer of the vehicle:-
  • The first digit identifies the nation of origin. If the car was assembled from parts produced in different countries, this digit reflects the nation where the car was assembled. Some larger nations are split into regions. For example, cars built in Japan are assigned a J in the first digit. But cars made in the U.S. can have a 1, 4 or 5, depending on the region of its assembly.
  • The second digit identifies the manufacturer of the vehicle. In the United States, the Society for Automotive Engineers issues manufacturer codes.
  • The third digit identifies a division within the manufacturer or a general vehicle type. For example, the code for an American-made Ford is 1F, and depending on the type of vehicle, it may be a 1FA, 1FB and so on. A U.S. General Motors vehicle is a 1G. Chevrolet is a division of GM, so the first three digits for a Chevrolet are 1GC.

  • The next five digits, (4-8), describe the vehicle. The specific use of these digits differs from one manufacturer to another. Here are the more common examples:

    • The fourth digit might contain a code that represents the vehicle's weight, horsepower or both.
    • The fifth digit often identifies the platform of the vehicle, such as van, pickup truck, trailer, sedan, etc.
    • The sixth digit can be a special code used by the manufacturer, or it might identify the specific model of the vehicle, such as Corvette, Durango or Mustang.
    • The seventh digit can be used to identify body type, such as four-door, two-door, hatchback or convertible.
    • The eighth digit is used for information about the engine, such as number of cylinders and engine displacement.

    The next three digits are consistent among all manufacturers:

    • The ninth digit is always a "check digit". All the other digits in the VIN are put through a complex formula to calculate the correct check digit. This allows computers to tell immediately if there is an error in the VIN, which often happens when someone transcribes a VIN or enters it into a computer. Evert VIN will have its own calculated check digit.
    • The tenth digit is the model year digit. Each year has a code character. From the 1980s until 2000, each year had a letter code, with 2000 assigned Y. 2001 was given code 1, 2002 is code 2, and so forth.
    • The eleventh digit is the plant code, representing the factory where the car was assembled.

    The last six digits, (12 - 17), are production sequence numbers.  Small manufacturers like Lamborghini that make few cars per year use the 12th, 13th and 14th digits as additional manufacturer identification codes. Production sequence numbers identify the vehicle itself, sort of like a serial number.

    Since each manufacturer has a different code, and each car produced by the same factory has its own production sequence number, every car produced in a given year has a unique VIN.

    The European Union has a similar regulation for VINs, but it is less stringent than the North American rule. European VINs are not required to include year, factory or vehicle attribute data. However, the two systems are compatible. While most countries have some form of VIN system that is compatible with the North American system, cars that are imported must have their VIN number entered into the MVR database along with enough information to explain what the codes are if the original VIN system differs from the ISO 3779 standard.

  • The VIN Numbering Format For Lamborghini Cars:
  • How does the above general formula translate into Lamborghini Cars? Well first Lamborghini changed its VIN format/rules in 2003. 

    For cars during and after 2003 the formula is as follows:-

    Digit 1 = "Z" (Europe)
    Digit 2 = "H" (Italy)
    Digit 3 = "W" (Automobili Lamborghini)

    Digit 4 = Model (B=Murciago, G=Gallardo)
    Digit 5 = Market (C=Canada, E=Europe, U=USA etc)
    Digit 6 = Body (1=Coupe, 2=Roadster/Spyder, 3=LP640 Coupe, 4=LP640 Roadster)
    Digit 7 = Engine (1=500HP, 10 cylinder, 2=520HP, 10 cylinder, 6=6.2L, 12 cylinder, 7=6.5L, 12 cylinder)
    Digit 8 = Features (M=Manual Transmission, N=Low Ratio, Manual Transmission, S=E-Gear, T=Low Ratio, E-Gear)

    Digit 9 = VIN Check Digit

    Digit 10 = Model Year (eg 3=2003, etc)
    Digit 11 = Plant (L=Sant'Agata Bolognese, Bologna Italia)

    Digits 12, 13, 14, 15, 16 and 17 = Serial Number (clarified by digit 4 "model")

    For example my current Gallardo's VIN is:- ZHWGU11S15L02655

    Z, it was made in Europe
    H, in Italy
    W, by Lamborghini
    G, it's a Gallardo
    U, for sale in USA
    1, it's a coupe
    1, it's 500HP
    S, it has an E-gear transmission
    1, when all the other digits are in the check digit calculates out to be a 1
    5, the model year is 2005
    L, it was built in Sant'Agata, Italy
    02655 it was the 2,655 car built.

    For Lamborghini cars built before 2003 the formula was as follows:-

    Digit 1 = "Z" (Europe)
    Digit 2 = "A" (Italy)
    Digit 3 = "9" (A Small Car Manufacturer)

    Digit 4 = Model (C=Countach, D=Diablo, J=Jalpa, L=LM002, R=Diablo Roadster, B=Murcialago)
    Digit 5 = Market (C=Canada, E=Europe, U or A=USA, 0=other)
    Digit 6 = Body (0=Coupe, 1=VT-Coupe, 2=SV-Coupe, 3=Roadster, 4=SUV)
    Digit 7 = Engine (0=3.5L, 8cyl, 5=5.5L,12 cylinder, 7=5.7L, 12 cyl, 2=5.7L, 12 VVT, 1=12VVT, 0=6.2L, 12 cyl)
    Digit 8 = Features (B=Passenger Airbag, P=Passive Restraints, A=Active Restraints, U=USA, E=Europe, etc)

    Digit 9 = VIN Check Digit

    Digit 10 = Model Year (eg A=1980, Y=2000, 1=2001, etc)
    Digit 11 = Plant (L=Sant'Agata Bolognese - Bologna Italia)

    Digits 12, 13 and 14 = Small Car Manufacture sub-code, "A12" = Automobili Lamborghini

    Digits 15, 16 and 17 = Serial Number.


    This page was last modified on 03/12/2014

    This page was last modified on 09/06/2014