Production - Vehicle Identification

VIN Decoding - American Mopars

Article by Sheridan Brown

Just as Chrysler Australia made some very tasty muscle machines, Chrysler in America also produced a wide variety of wild and exciting muscle cars over the years. A few of us dream of perhaps one day owning one of these beasts like a Dodge Challenger, Charger or a Plymouth Road Runner, and some of us are lucky enough to own some of these cars already.

For those of you looking to own one of these cars in the future, I will in this article show you how to decipher the VIN numbers on these cars to accurately determine what exactly it is you're buying. Due to that lack of expertise on these vehicles in this country, it would be easy for a car importer to fool the average Joe Bloggs into paying big dollars for what looks to be a rare 440 powered 1971 Plymouth 'Cuda, when all he's really buying is a 1971 Plymouth Barracuda 225 Slant 6 with a 440 swapped in. It really hurts to find out that you made that kind of mistake…

For the purpose of this article I have chosen the years 1969 to 1971 which is when Dodge and Plymouth produced some of their finest muscle cars (just my humble opinion), and cars in these years are usually the most in demand and commonly imported into Australia.

First off, the VIN number on all these cars we'll be looking at can be found on a metal plate attached to the top of the left side of the dash panel, visible through the wind shield. On some years the VIN is also repeated on the last line of the fender tag which can be found on the top of the inner guard in the engine bay, just near the battery. If the car you're looking at has been converted to right hand drive using an Australian Valiant dash board, the VIN plate will more than likely be missing. This leaves 2 other accurate places to find it (assuming the fender tag is missing as well). (1) On the original import papers for the vehicle (which you should always make sure you get when buying an American import) or (2) If you're lucky you'll find the original factory broadcast/build sheet tucked under the springs of the lower section of your back seat. So pull the bottom section of your back seat out, flip it over and have a look for it. This document tells you absolutely everything about your car.

Enough banter, lets break down the VIN numbers character by character. The number of digits in these VIN numbers will always be 13.

FIRST DIGIT: Model or Car Line

B Plymouth Barracuda
C Chrysler
D Dodge Polara, Dodge Monaco
J Dodge Challenger
L Dodge Dart
P Plymouth Fury
R Plymouth Belvedere, Plymouth Satellite
V Plymouth Valiant
W Dodge Coronet, Dodge Charger (1971)
X Dodge Charger (1969-1970)
Y Imperial


E Economy
L Low
M Medium
H High
P Premium
S Special
N New York Taxi
K Police
T Taxi
X Fast-top (1969 Dodge Daytona and Late 1969 Charger 500's)


21 two-door sedan/coupe (fixed rear side windows)
23 two-door hardtop
27 convertible
29 two-door sports hardtop (Charger)
41 four-door sedan
43 four-door hardtop
45 six-passenger wagon
46 nine-passenger wagon

FIFTH DIGIT: Engine (I've listed years next to the number of cylinders as I don't have all the 1970 engine codes)

A 170 1-1bbl 6 cylinder (69)
B 225 1-1bbl 6 cylinder (69)
B 198 1-1bbl 6 cylinder (71)
C Special Order 6 cylinder (69)
C 225 1-1bbl 6 cylinder (71)
D 273 1-2bbl 8 cylinder (69)
E Special Order 6 cylinder (71)
F 318 1-2bbl 8 cylinder (69)
G 383 1-2bbl 8 cylinder (69)
G 318 1-2bbl 8 cylinder (70-71)
H 383 1-4bbl hp 8 cylinder (69)
H 340 1-4bbl 8 cylinder (71)
J 426 Hemi 2-4bbl 8 cylinder (69)
J 340 3-2bbl 8 cylinder (71)
K 440 1-4bbl 8 cylinder (69)
K 360 1-2bbl 8 cylinder (71)
L 440 1-4bbl hp 8 cylinder (69)
L 383 1-4bbl 8 cylinder (70)
L 383 1-2bbl 8 cylinder (70-71)
M Special Order 8 cylinder (69)
M 400 1-2bbl 8 cylinder (71)
N 383 1-4bbl hp 8 cylinder (70-71)
R 426 Hemi 2-4bbl 8 cylinder (70-71)
T 440 1-4bbl 8 cylinder (71)
U 440 1-4bbl 8 cylinder (70)
U 440 1-4bbl hp 8 cylinder (71)
V 440 3-2bbl 8 cylinder (70)
Z Special Order 8 cylinder (71)

SIXTH DIGIT: Model Year's Last Digit

9 1969
0 1970
1 1971

SEVENTH DIGIT: Assembly Plant

A Lynch Road, MI USA
B Hamtrack, MI USA
C Jefferson, MI USA
D Belvedere, IL USA
E Los Angeles, CA USA
F Newark, DE USA
G St. Louis, MO USA
H New Stanton, PA USA
P Wyoming, MI USA Export
R Windsor, ONT Canada

LAST SIX DIGITS: Sequential Build Number


Now, using the first 2 digits of the VIN number I have created a brief list of some of the more popular and desirable Dodge and Plymouth muscle cars. This list could be helpful to determine a true original muscle car from a "faker" built from a run of the mill base model.

This is by no means a list of all models available.


BH Plymouth Barracuda (1969)
LL Dodge Dart
LM Dodge Dart Swinger 340
VL Plymouth Duster
VS Plymouth Duster 340


WH Dodge Charger (1971)
WS Dodge Coronet R/T (1968-1970), Dodge Charger R/T (1971)
WM Dodge Coronet Superbee (1969-1970), Dodge Charger Superbee (1971)
RM Plymouth Road Runner
RS Plymouth GTX
XH Dodge Charger (1970)
XP Dodge Charger (1969), Dodge Charger 500 (1970)
XS Dodge Charger R/T, Dodge Charger 500 (early 1969)
XX Dodge Daytona, Dodge Charger 500 (late 1969)


BH Plymouth Barracuda
BS Plymouth 'Cuda
JH Dodge Challenger
JS Dodge Challenger R/T

If a car that you are looking to purchase does not appear in the above list, or if it was built prior to 1969 or after 1971, then I would be happy to help decode the VIN for you. The best method to contact me for such a request is via E-mail.