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How to Decode the VIN Number on a Pre-1980 Mercedes

by Vanessa Padgalskas; Updated November 07, 2017

In 1980, a standard system for vehicle identification numbers (VINs) was adopted in Europe and the United States. VIN numbers from 1983 to the present are 17 digits long, whereas Mercedes VIN numbers before 1983 were only 14 digits long. The VIN number can be found in your owner's manual and is imprinted on a metal card typically found on the inside of the driver's side door frame. The VIN number is necessary if you want to order a new part for your Mercedes.

Identify the first six numbers. This is the chassis type.

Locate the seventh number. If it is a "1," your Mercedes is made for left-hand driving. A "2" means it is for right-hand driving, which are vehicles primarily shipped to the United Kingdom and other countries where the driver sits on the right side of the car and drives on the left side of the road.

Identify the eighth number. A "0" represents a standard transmission, a "1" is a hydraulic clutch and a "2" is a manual transmission.

Look at numbers nine through 14. These final numbers represent the construction serial number, which is a number unique to each Mercedes.

About the Author

Vanessa Padgalskas was born and raised in Spokane, Wash., and currently resides in Portland, Ore. Padgalskas graduated from American University in 2007 with degrees in international studies and economics. She holds a law degree from Lewis and Clark Law School.

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