How to decipher your VW Beetle engine and chassis numbers

When ordering parts or restoring a car back to its original spec, it’s useful to know as much about your Bug as possible. Here’s how to unravel the dark art of engine and chassis codes…

First things first – you need to know where to look to find the necessary numbers. The ‘birth certificate’ for your Bug will be underneath the bonnet next to where it locks to the front apron – it will tell you the origin of the car as well as the chassis number. The chassis number can also be seen on the centre part of the chassis, under the rear seat and in the windscreen of very late Beetle models. The engine number is the easy one – it’s on the generator/alternator pedestal support.


So what do all the numbers mean, and what can they tell you about your car?

Chassis Numbers
Starting with chassis numbers, the Beetle has always had the factory designation of Type 1 and with the exception of the period from 1956 to 1964, the chassis number will start with a 1 or 11. Chassis numbers started at 1-0001 in 1940, but because the Type 1 prefix also included military vehicles, by 1945 when the numbering had reached 1-053814, only a few hundred Beetles had been built. By 1955, once Beetle production had reached one million, the 1 prefix was followed by seven digits. The prefix was then dropped; the last car produced in 1956 being given the number 1394119. The numbering system changed in 1965 with the introduction of a three digit prefix consisting of 11 to denote the Beetle (the Karmann Ghia was designated Type 14 and the Cabrio Type 15), followed by a digit to denote the model year, eg 5 for 1965 and so on. The first Bug to leave the production line in August 1964, therefore, was 115 000 001.


In 1970, a 2 was added to indicate the second decade, so the first 1970 model made in August 1969 was given the number 110 2 000 001. The last Beetle produced in Germany was 118 2 034 030. Instead of using 110 3 for the first 1980 model, produced in August 1979, the chassis number 11A 0000001 was adopted. When international standardisation took place, this became WVWzzz11zAM000001. WVW means Volkswagen private cars, the z’s are fill in characters and the letter ‘M’ in the 11th position denotes the country of manufacture, in this case Mexico. Dating some cars is easier than with others; the build date of June 1979 is easy to interpret on this US Cabriolet sticker. You might also find date stamps on parts such as wheels – although bear in mind rims might have been sitting around a while before being fitted, so don’t worry if they predate the car’s build date by a year!

late label

‘Type’ numbers
The chassis number only contains the first two ‘Type’ digits, but in fact the full Type numbers were made up of three digits up until 1968, then six thereafter. A summary of the post ’68 numbers are as follows:

1st digit     1 = Beetle
2nd digit    1 = 122/1300/1500
3rd digit     1,3,5 = Left-hand drive, 2,4,6 = Right-hand drive
4th digit     0 = Standard model, 1 = L version, 7,8 = US version
5th digit     Engine type, 1 = 1200 34bhp, 2 =1300 44bhp, 3 = 1500 44bhp or 1600 50bhp
4 = 1400 with emission control, 5,6 = 1600 48bhp
6th digit     1 = manual gearbox, 2 = semi automatic


Engine codes
It’s always interesting to know what engine’s in your Beetle and you can check by looking at the prefix. Engine number prefixes were first used in 1965 with the introduction of the 1300, with other Beetle numbers as follows:

A = 1200 30bhp
D = 1200 34bhp
E = 1300 37bhp
F = 1300 40bhp
H = 1500 44bhp
L = 1500 40bhp
AB = 1300 44bhp
AC = 1300 40bhp
AD = 1600 50bhp
AE = 1600 48bhp (US)
AF = 1600 46bhp
AG = 1600 44bhp (Type 181)
AH = 1600 48bhp (US)
AJ = 1600 50bhp (fuel injection)
AK = 1600 48bhp (US)
AL = 1600 48bhp (Type 181)
AM = 1600 48bhp (Type 181, US)
AR = 1300 44bhp
AS = 1600 50bhp

Data stickers
To confuse matters slightly, some Beetles were fitted with a sticker (usually stuck the metalwork by spare wheel well) which gives the chassis number, type number, engine and gearbox code, paint codes and a list of any factory fitted options. Accessories fitted by the supplying dealer, of course, wouldn’t be included.


The colour code could prove useful when carrying out restoration work, of course, and by identifying the original interior trim, you can determine whether items have been changed. Meanwhile, the options list will tell you which accessories were fitted when it left the factory. So, for example, if you’re keen on returning your Bug to original spec – it will tell you what accessories to keep, which to ditch and what parts are missing… The list published on here might prove useful. If you’ve done any detective work yourself regarding Beetle M numbers, we’d love to hear from you…


The opinions expressed here are the personal opinions of the author and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of VW Heritage.

98 responses to: How to decipher your VW Beetle engine and chassis numbers

    1. Hi Riann, thanks for your comment.
      We can’t work out that chassis number.
      Where abouts on the vehicle did you take it from?
      What age do you think the vehicle is?
      Do you know where it was manufactured?
      We will try and help some more if we can.
      And which country are you in now?

    1. Hi Graham, engines manufactured before 1965 only had numbers, and didn’t include letters. So it is likely yours could be one of these.

  1. I have a very nice 1965 Beetle. It has the correct chassis number stamped under the back seat…in the 115XXXXX range…which corresponds to the VIN number on my title. It’s the correct number for a 1965. But I cannot find a factory ID plate anywhere in the spare tire well…nothing. Not even old rivet holes.
    I have asked at least 15 different people, some working for respected parts places…many differing and split opinions. Several have said that the mid-1960s Beetles did not at all come with factory ID plates….that they only were made with the aforementioned stamped number under the back seat.

    A guy who runs a wrecking yard for old Bugs said his 1966 does not have that plate.
    Can someone finally end the question for me….did my 1965 come…or not come….with that ID plate..?

    Thank you,

    Jim in SoCal

    1. model year 1965 has chassis number printed under the backseat, metal plaque with chassis number printed behind the spare tire and paint color code prited on a sticker. That’s all!!

  2. I am looking to buy a specific VW beetle but somethings aren’t adding up. The car is a 1300 (as I understand it only manufactured for the 1966 models. But the front hood plate starts with 117…(the rest is under paint and is unreadable). Another interesting bit is that the engine block # is F0950346… which is not showing up on thesamba website. And most confusing is that right above the engine block number, it says “Ignição 1-4-3-2″…. and since I speak some Portuguese, this means “ignition”… and perhaps made in Brazil?? But the VIN plate says “Manufactured in Germany”.
    I am not an expert, but this “fully restored 1300 VW” seems to have been put together from parts from multiple vehicles? I wish I could post pictures here of the plates, engine, etc. Feel free to email at

  3. Hi my engine says D 1303455 it’s in a dune buggy so I have no clue what year it is the numbers on the bottom end are AS 41 043 101 102

    1. I’m just reading your question today Jan 30 18
      Your car is an early 61 manufactured around Sept 1960….the F code engine is a 40 hp…..I think. But I didn’t see any with a #2 after, most all have a #1 after the F……hope this helps.

  4. Hi
    I got a VW I am confused that its Engine number is F160**** and in the VI Book it says manufactured in 1958 Chassis number is 1785***

    Can it be

  5. Hi there we just purchased a motorcycle trike that has a VW engine the numbers on the back are a AE875101 we don’t have any other information but that we’re looking to find out possibly what year it is any help would be appreciated

  6. My Beetle says first registration Feb 1966
    Numbers in car and on plate both tally as 116 427 031
    Engine D 0295026
    Can anyone explain this to me please ?

    1. Chassis number confirms that it’s a model year 1966 and 427031 it’s the serial number. Due to the fact that since m.y. 1966 1300cc engine was introduced for beetles the unique number for engine ended up and started with D letter for 1200cc and F letter for 1300cc. You mount a 1200cc!! Unfortunately, according to VW tables, this serial number belongs to a 1200cc produced at the end of 1967 (late December) for model year 1968. So it might had been replaced during these 51 years!

      116 427 031 (model year 1966: from Aug. 1965 to July 1966)
      Produced in December 1965 and sold, as you said, in Feb 1966
      Engine Number type D. for that period shuold be from around D 0 046000 to D 0 050000 (infact VW used to sold more 1300cc than 1200cc)


  7. My engine has an X inside a circle and then reads D1216569. Most thing i read say it is a 40 hp version. And others say it is an after market engine sold in 1977. Problem I have is matching parts to it. I just purchased a carburator that has an extra lever on the passenger side which hits my alternator, preventing the throttle from moving. I don’t know if this is an engine issue or a carburator issue. I figure if I can determine the engine, I at least can start from there

  8. I need help identifying my engine number. The car is a RHD 1972 Beetle standard (VIN 112 2626-490) abd the engine number is: FDR 219130
    As far as I know it should be a 1200 engine, but I am not sure if it has been replaced.
    Hope you can clarify for me.

  9. Hey there, my vin number is 133 2240 965, any help with the year . It’s a super beetle and I dont know wich Balljoint to buy. Thanks in advance

  10. Hello, thanks for the info on this. Kindly help out as the Chasis number and engine are the same?
    D-1084757? It is a type 1, 1192cc. Located in the Philippines. Don’t know what color it is originally as not indicated on the CR/OR too.

    Thank you!

  11. Can anyone help to identify engine number 211909X? No VW stamp or leading letters. I think it’s a 1600. It’s a replacement, the original was a 1300.

    1. We have cleaned up the block using a toothbrush and can see a very faint AD, which would identify a 1600 (50BHP) engine. Job Done!

  12. My engine number is SFADTR206413. Made in Mexico although I’m in South Africa. I know it’s a 1600 Twin port. What could the bhp be? Thanx I advance.

  13. My engine number RE 181456
    It’s as I understand 1.8 fuel injection fitted to a German trike (air cooled)
    Any info on the engine please

  14. Just picked up this beetle and i’m trying to find out where it was built,the tag behind the spare has no numbers just made in Germany the vin is 1132038113 any help is appreciated

  15. Hi all just wondering if anyone can give me any information about an beetle engine with this number on w10314220 thanks for looking 👍🏼😀

  16. Guess I’ll get in on this.
    Just bought what seems to be a 1970 Beetle.
    Engine code is U0402856
    Samba says thats a dual relief case, which my engine definitely isn’t. It also has the VW (recycled/exchange?) symbol preceding it. Any ideas what I have? Need to start buying parts
    Thanks either way for the help 👍

    1. I would look into it being a type 3 engine.
      I have a 1970 also with the same code.
      Is yours stamped on the seam of the two halves?
      Right by the fuel pump.

  17. How Can I tell what kind of motor I got from the numbers 113.101.102 B9 and 113.101.101 B3 and 5564078 is the only numbers on my motor how do I figure out what I got

    1. Hi John, These are the ‘part numbers’ for the engine case halves, not the engine number – this engine number will be under the alternator/ dynamo stand.

  18. Greetings

    My engine no is SFA57B0063 if someone can assist and letting me know if this is a 1300cc or 1600cc I just bought the beach Buggy and I am from the West Cape, South Africa

  19. My engine stamp is 6059922. Single port. I was told it’s a 40hp by a guy at a VW parts shop. He said he could tell by “the weird mount for the single port”. Do the numbers indicate it is a 1960 engine? If so, what do the other number mean?

  20. Mi engine serial number is AM 012116 , I have my car in south- america, that means that my engine was made in germany for sale in USA ?

    1. Hi Leslie, looks like you have a ’78 model year Beetle Cabriolet, according to the chassis number this would have been made between December 77 and July 78.


  22. Hi guys,

    We have a beetle cabrio from 1971 with a salvage title.


    It seems to be a strange number for 1971 (built in 1970).
    Thanks for any help.

  23. I have a 1970 beetle.The engine number is ADR283853. The is no explanation on your website for the ADR prefix. Have you come across this before? do you know the actual engine size?
    Im based in Cape Town, South Africa

    1. We imagine that the AD is for 1600 Twinport, and the addtional R is for Remanufactured.
      As to the specification of the engine now, our guess would be 1600cc twinport built between 1970 and 73.

  24. Hi—

    I have a 1970 Karmann Ghia with an engine code BO. Everything that I can find only says that it is a non-USA engine. I can find no other information on it. It is a dual port and looks to be a 1600.

    Where can I look to get mote information on this engine? HP, best carb, best distributor, timing, etc….

    Also, is there a reason that it was not used in USA cars?

    Thanks in advance for your assistance.

    1. Hi Joe, We would go with it being a ‘B’ coded engine, which was originally a 1600 single port. Sounds like the top end has been rebuilt to twin port spec. Originally the B code engine produced 47 bhp.
      Not sure why it wouldn’t have been available in the USA though?

  25. Hi there, got a bit of a issue. My engine number on my dune buggy is bs625903. Problem is this does not line up with any engine codes I have come across. Any chance someone has some insight into this issue.

    1. Hi Darryl, any chance the number could be B5….In which case it could be based on a 1600 single port.
      As with all things, what you have in front of you is the biggest clue. Is it Single or Twin Port?

  26. I bought a 1973 Beetle model GSR sport track and I woul like to be certain of the model. The serial number of the vehicule is 1332731308 and that of the engine is AE037417. Thank’s

      1. hi andy I have the same code “b” on my block b6242048 wanted to know if you can help identify block size and how can I tell if it’s a single port or twin . It has manifold with twin carbs.

        1. The B code was a single port – where the inlet manifold joins, is there one or two ports? You should be able to tell this from the design of the manifolds rather than taking it apart.

    1. Hi infinite facts! I have a Zink fVee with a 1964 or earlier front end, likely a ZinkC4 ? The engine code is HS 625394. It is a single port engine. I cannot seem to find this specific code.
      Also I would like to track down the SCCA number stamped onto the roll bar. It is NER252 possibly this could be VER? The other Stamp is 062-069. I am restoring this and would like to know its long history. It was last a motocross setup with Performance Improvement sponsorship around Lake Erie Canada. Thank you. Trevor Cass

  27. Purchased a 1971 VW Beetle VIN at driver window 2 days ago number is 1 1 1 222 8273. Does this line up for this year and model thank you

  28. Hi, I have an issue with DVLA they want my chassis no. before issuing a log book (no problem there I hear you say). I recently purchased the vehicle, the car has been altered…. so I have a 1969? VW Beetle Chassis and engine. Well in the chassis no. department all I have is a number stamped on the chassis which is the same as the VIN no. that has appeared on the last 6 MOT certificates in the VIN no. box. DVLA are saying it’s not a proper VIN no. because it’s not 17 digits long. I don’t know enough about VIN no’s to argue with them, all I know is that this is the only evidence I can find of a stamped no. and it’s suited the last half a dozen MOT’s. The number is 119618942 any assistance would be gratefully accepted.

    1. This seems bizarre Laurence; that chassis number looks typical of a 1969 Beetle to us. Maybe you just got a newbie when you spoke to the DVLA.
      Try again. If not, perhaps try and get an example of another 1969 Beetle V5 document to prove this is how they are?
      Is the vehicle now a Beach Buggy, or another kit car?

      1. It’s a Bugatti T35 replica now, the 2 people I have spoken to at DVLA and a chap they sent out to have a look at the car were less than helpful, the visitor took a picture of the engine no. huffed a few times, refused to look for a chassis no. or suggest where I should start because at that time I hadn’t found it (as it was caked in paint) and off he went. I’ll fill in their form and return it and see what happens next. Thanks for your comment it gives me more resolve to be a bit more steadfast.

  29. Hello,
    I am trying to decode the vin number 1572983233 for my 1977 Super Beetle Convertible. What I am trying to decode is if it is a Base model, Deluxe model, or a Champagne model. Any help or suggestions is greatly appreciated. Thanks.

    1. Hi Devin, to find out this level of detail you will need to apply for a birth certificate from VW. We are unable to tell you this information I’m afraid. Andy

      1. Thank you for the information.
        I have another question to ask. Is it possible to get a replacement vin tag located in trunk and vin sticker located in door channel for my VW?

        Thank you,

  30. Hi

    The VIN number on my Beetle is 1132 951 664/4. The engine number is AD278348. Would you be able to assist with the model year? I am in South Africa.


    1. Hi Brad, it looks like you have a 1973 model, built between December 1972 and July 1973. The engine number would indicate that it is a 1600cc Twin Port.
      Hope that helps. Andy

  31. I have a vw engine with the prefix AB 813838o . I have not found any thing for year or hp. The engine is being used on my trike.

      1. Hi Hank, the B code engine was a 1600cc single port, made between 68 and 70. It may well have had a twinport conversion since it was made though – and maybe even bigger capacity too.

  32. Hi,
    I have just purchased a off road buggy, I don’t know what year they used
    and it didn’t include a vin# just trying to find out engine size without
    taking it apart. The engine code is the vw recycled emblem and the letter B
    That’s all, any help would be appreciated.

  33. I have what looks like a 68 VW bug but can’t find any numbers other than engine number trying to get VIN number, any help would be helpful.
    #B 6436352

    1. Hi Jeremy, we won’t be able to help on that, sadly – if it’s not on the chassis (under the rear seats) or the documents, then you’re a bit stuck! Try checking old MOTs or service history?

  34. Peter- 64 Baja

    G’Day people of vast VW knowledge. Just picked up a possible 1964 Beetle/Baja. I have searched for the VIN in all the places. Previous owner replaced floor pan, no numbers on dash and only a 5 figure number in front wheel well on a plate 53405, no sticker with data. I have been told 64 due to the sun roof. Engine number H1123105, does not match any serial number anywhere. Your assistance would be greatly appreciated.


    1. With the help of a piece of chalk, I finally found this for the possible VIN 5997331. Mar/Apr 1960 for body and the engine in Jun 69 Would this be correct.

  35. Hi I lived in Brasil the number is “B4-178033” – It is a 1964 model , but for what do you said in article the motor is 1500 not 1200

  36. Need some help please , i live in South Africa, i have a beach buggy, the engine number is FAS442866 , can someone please help with identifying this engine, year, CC , country of origin etc.

    The VIN is AAPV0069480012153, similarly would like to find out as much as possible.

    any assistance would be appreciated

  37. I am trying to identify the year of a beetle I recently bought. the engine serial number is AF1077365, I found what I think is the Chassis number under the back seats but can’t seem to find any other identification numbers, the one under the back seat starts 11L007****, any ideas?

  38. I have recently bought a beetle, believe it is Mexican made.
    I think it is roughly 1973 basing off a few things I have seen online but I can’t seem to find any information on my Chassis number
    I have found the number under the rear seats stamped into the metal to be: 11L007****

    anyone seen anything similar to this number?

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