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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Chances are if you're here you know all the manufacturers' performance variants:
  • Audi S
  • BMW M
  • Cadillac V
  • Dodge SRT
  • Ford RS
  • Mercedes-Benz AMG
  • Volkswagen R
  • etc.

...and you probably know that the first three characters of the VIN denote the manufacturer.

BMW's code is WBA. Mostly. The manufacturer code for BMW ///M cars is WBS. (I've validated this -- all three of my ///M cars were WBS, and my other Bimmers were WBA.)

Do other manufacturers do this? Probably more likely with MB, as they break out AMG similarly to ///M with significant upgrades. Maybe Cadillac V, too. Anybody know if other manufacturers do this?
 

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...and you probably know that the first three characters of the VIN denote the manufacturer.
Not really. Actually not at all. VIN numbers are quite possibly the most uninteresting aspect of the car hobby.
 

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Chances are if you're here you know all the manufacturers' performance variants:



  • ...and you probably know that the first three characters of the VIN denote the manufacturer.

    BMW's code is WBA.


  • Close but not really, the first letter is what country the car was built in. 1,4,5 is US, W is Germany, 3 Mexico, 2 Canada (and others out there i am sure but i am just going by car's i've owned). The next two letters i think specify the manufacturer/plant where it was built.

    There are entire websites dedicated to decoding your vin if you really want to get into it.
 

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Not really. Actually not at all. VIN numbers are quite possibly the most uninteresting aspect of the car hobby.

BMW utilizes a VIN with a 17 character structure.

The characters are grouped to include multiple information as follows:

WBA

Digit 1-3 are the manufacturer’s code:
WBA = BMW Cars and SAVs
WBS = Motorsport
4US = Spartanburg (not used since 1999)

BR33

Digits 4-7 are the model code

4

Digit 8 is the restraint system identifier:
0 = Seat belts
1 = Seat belts and Driver airbag
2 = Seat belts and Dual airbags
3 = Seat belts, Second generation dual front airbags
4 = Seat belts, Dual-stage advanced front airbags

4

Digit 9 is a check digit determined by VIN

Y

Digit 10 is the model year identifier (started in 1980):
A = 1980 model year, sequentially progresses every year. I,O,Q,U and Z are not used because they can be mistaken for numbers.

A=1980 G=1986 N=1992 W=1998 4=2004 A=2010
B=1981 H=1987 P=1993 X=1999 5=2005 B=2011
C=1982 J=1988 R=1994 Y=2000 6=2006 C=2012
D=1983 K=1989 S=1995 1=2001 7=2007 D=2013
E=1984 L=1990 T=1996 2=2002 8=2008 E=2014
F=1985 M=1991 V=1997 3=2003 9=2009 F=2015

E

Digit 11 is the Plant code:

A, F, K = (Plant 1.1) Munich
C, B, D, G = (Plant 2.4) Dingolfing
E, J, P = (Plant 6.1) Regensburg
L, M = (Plant 10) Spartanburg
N = (Plant 9) Rosslyn
W = (Plant) Graz, Austria
V = (Plant) Leipzig

A82019
Digits 12-17 are the Sequential production number

Engine Numbering System

In order to organize and classify the engines developed by BMW, a numbering system
has been developed.

N46 B20 K 0

Digit 1 is the engine developer and/or generation:
A = Motorcycle
M = BMW Group (Old Generation)
N = BMW Group (New Generation)
G H K L T = BMW Group (Future Generation)
P = BMW Motorsport
S = BMW M GmbH

Digit 2 is the engine type:
Combustion Engines
2 = V6
4 = in-line 4
5 = in-line 6
6 = V8
7 = V12
8 = V10
Electric Motors
A = Asynchronous
P = Permanent Magnet
R = Switched Reluctance
S = Synchronous
T = Transversal flow

Digit 3 is the engine technology

Digit 4 is working procedure and/or fuel:
B = Gasoline
D = Diesel
E = Electric
G = Natural Gas
H = Hydrogen
M = Methanol
X = Electronic - Diesel
Y = Electronic - Gasoline

Digits 5&6 are the displacement value

Digit 7 is the performance class:
T = Top performance class
O = Upper performance class (standard)
M = Intermediate performance class
U = Lower one performance class
K = Smallest one performance class

Digit 8 is release relevant information:
0 = New Development
1-9 = Revision (such as technical update or cost project)

Transmission

A 5 S 440 Z

Digit 1 is the transmission type:
A = Automatic
S = Standard (manual)

Digit 2 is the number of gears

Digit 3 is a reference for the final drive ratio:
S = Top gear overdrive
D = Top gear direct drive

Digits 4-6 are a torque rating index

Digit 7 identifies the manufacturer:
Z = ZF
R = Hydramatic
G = Getrag

5 HP 24

Digit 1 is the number of gears

Digits 2-3 refer to the type of transmission:
HP = Hydraulic planetary

Digits 4-5 are an internal ZF designation
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Intonation, thanks for the details -- much appreciated!!
 

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Pssh, you plebs and your 17 digit vin's.


I'm happy with my 11 digits thank you. :laugh::beer:
 

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BMW utilizes a VIN with a 17 character structure.
All VINs are 17 characters. This isn't something that BMW chose or is unique to them.

WBA

Digit 1-3 are the manufacturer’s code:
Digits 1 - 3 show a couple of things. The first digit in ANY VIN denotes the country of production. "W" is Germany. The US is 1, 4, or 5, Mexico is 3, etc. Thus any German produced vehicle (for example a VW, an Audi, a Mercedes) is going to start with "W". The second digit denotes the manufacturer. BMW gets a "B" for German production or a "U" for US production. The third character can denote either vehicle type or specific place of manufacture. For example, a VW GTI built in the Wolfsburg plant will have a VIN that starts with "WVW" which tells us: Germany, Volkswagen, passenger car. A VW GTI built in the Puebla plant will have a VIN that starts with 3VW, which tells us: Mexico, Volkswagen, Passenger Car. For the BMW "WBA" code, that tells us: Germany, BMW, Car or SAV.

Some companies divide their lines into cars, trucks, commercial vehicles, etc. For BMW, that third digit can be either an A for passenger cars and SUVs, or an S for Motorsport cars. It can also be an "X" for the SUV lines. An X-series produced in the US would have a VIN that started with 5UX for example, which tells you that it's US production, BMW, SUV.


-Tim
 

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Alpina is considered a separate manufacturer from BMW, so Alpinas get their own VINs beginning with "WAP"

The original BMW VIN is actually still there with an 'X' etched through it and elsewhere on the chassis you'll find the Alpina VIN, usually on a plaque riveted to the chassis.




One of the exciting things about owning an Alpina is explaining to government officials why your BMW VIN has a big 'X' through it :laugh:
 

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Most Audi's start WAU. However, Quattro GMBH (R8s RS's) cars start WUA.
 

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Alpina is considered a separate manufacturer from BMW, so Alpinas get their own VINs beginning with "WAP"

The original BMW VIN is actually still there with an 'X' etched through it and elsewhere on the chassis you'll find the Alpina VIN, usually on a plaque riveted to the chassis.




One of the exciting things about owning an Alpina is explaining to government officials why your BMW VIN has a big 'X' through it :laugh:
That's actually pretty neat. :thumbup:
 
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