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
- 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
- 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
- The eleventh digit is
the plant code, representing the factory where the car was
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
How does the above general formula translate into
Lamborghini Cars? Well first Lamborghini changed its VIN format/rules in
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
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
For example my current Gallardo's VIN is:-
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
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" =
Digits 15, 16 and 17 = Serial Number.