Updated: 27-May-17

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VIN Information & Decoders

Quick Links:

VIN Locations

What the Z's Mean

Chassis Number

UK "regs"

VIN Decoder: 1981-1993

VIN Decoder: 1979-1980

Check Digit Calculation


VIN Locations

  • Dashboard: driver's side at windshield
  • Door plate: driver's side, below strike pin
  • Build sheet: white sticker on crossbar in trunk, driver's side
  • VIN stamp: rain tray in engine bay, underneath black water deflector, passenger side (note: this VIN contains four filler digits; see the section below for further information)
  • [Various parts (1988-1993): Clipper kit, hood, trunk lid, fenders,etc. have VIN stickers on them]


What the Z's Mean

VINs outside North America, and the VINs found stamped into the rain tray of all Cabriolets, contain four "Z"s.  For North American Cabriolets, these are merely filler digits. The rain tray VINs were standard issue as the cars rolled off the initial phase of the assembly line; the only difference between these standard-issue model-year VINs is the sequential production number.   Locations outside of the USA & Canada do not require the same VIN information (many locations, including Europe, still require only a 13-digit VIN) and, therefore, use filler digits during stamping to make the initial assembly process easier and faster.

For example, if 30,000 Cabriolets were built for the 1985 model year, the first Cabriolet built for that year would have WVWZZZ15ZFK000001, while the last 1985 Cabriolet would have a WVWZZZ15ZFK030000 stamped into the rain tray.  As the cars went through final assembly, they received their official, individual VINs based on their destination; it was at this time that North American Cabriolets obtained their non-"Z" VINs, while cars destined for sale in Europe received the "Z" VIN on the door plate, the dash plate and on the build sheet.  Using the same example, that first 1985 Cabriolet was destined for, let's say, the USA; it's official VIN would be WVWCA0158FK000001 (the internal check code varies and may not actually be an 8).  The last Cabriolet for 1985 was destined for, let's say, Italy; it's official VIN would be WVWZZZ15Z030000. Two build sheets are shown here (with the last 4 digits blurred for security reasons), so that you can see the differences between these official VINs.

If you doubt the above information, it was all verified by Volkswagen AG: click here to see the official letter. (Thank you so much to Gail W. for providing this letter and its translation! Gail had an issue in being able to transport her Cabriolet from Germany to the USA because of the VIN "discrepancy". This letter was issued to Gail from Volkswagen AG, providing official verification regarding the "Z" information outlined above.)

Chassis Number

Many times parts are dependent upon your car's chassis number, which is VIN-dependent.  Your car's chassis number is the sequential production number for your car's model year.  An example of this would be the 1984 mid-year change: If you own a 1984 Rabbit Convertible, you'll need to know the chassis number in order to know if your car uses an in-tank fuel transfer pump.  The chassis numbers would be listed as follows:

To 15-E-11290

From 15-E-11291


The "15" is not always used.  The "To E-11290" would indicate the part is for all Rabbit Convertibles up to 1984 (E) with VIN sequential production number of 11290.

UK "regs"

In the Cabriolet's era, UK registration (license/number) plates were issued year identifiers based on when the cars were first registered, which did not always occur when the cars were initially bought.  These registration year identifiers are letters. The UK's registration method can create some confusion when it comes to the car's model year. For instance, let's say (for example's sake) that a 1985 White Edition was not bought until September 30, 1985; it was a leftover that is now sitting with new 1986 models at the dealer and offered at a steep discount that couldn't be passed up.  The owner registered the car a week later on October 7, 1985.  We now have a 1985 model year car that has what is, technically, a 1986 model year registration identifier on it.  Thus, saying simply "I have a C-reg Cabriolet" does not quite get the job done.  It is far, far better (and more precise) to use the model year (10th digit in the VIN) when discussing the car.

V-reg = August 1, 1979 - July 31, 1980                                        E-reg = August 1, 1987 - July 31, 1988

W-reg = August 1, 1980 - July 31, 1981                                       F-reg = August 1, 1988 - July 31, 1989

X-reg = August 1, 1981 - July 31, 1982                                        G-reg = August 1, 1989 - July 31, 1990

Y-reg = August 1, 1982 - July 31, 1983                                         H-reg = August 1, 1990 - July 31, 1991

A-reg = August 1, 1983 - July 31, 1984                                        J-reg = August 1, 1991 - July 31, 1992

B-reg = August 1, 1984 - July 31, 1985                                        K-reg = August 1, 1992 - July 31, 1993

C-reg = August 1, 1985 - July 31, 1986                                        L-reg = August 1, 1993 - July 31, 1994

D-reg = August 1, 1986 - July 31, 1987                                        M-reg = August 1, 1994 - July 31, 1995

VIN Decoder ~ 1981-1993

Position:

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12

13

14

15

16

17

Sample VIN:

W

V

W

C

A

0

1

5

5

G

K

0

5

4

3

2

1

Country of Manufacture: Germany


















Vehicle Manufacturer: Volkswagen


















Vehicle Type: Passenger Car


















Model Trim

A = base

B = custom (1993)

C = custom (1980-1992)

D = Carat (also found on Wolfsburg Edition)


















Engine Type

A = lowest output, gas (EJ, EN, JH)

B = lowest output, gas (2H ~ Digifant II)

C = lowest output, gas (2H ~ Digifant I)


















Restraint System

0 = active (manual seatbelts)

5 = active with driver airbag


















Model Type: Golf I Cabriolet/Rabbit Convertible


















Check Digit


















Model Year

B = 1981         J = 1988

C = 1982        K = 1989

D = 1983         L = 1990

E = 1984         M = 1991

F = 1985          N = 1992

G = 1986         P = 1993

H = 1987


















Assembly Plant: Karmann; Osnabrück, Germany


















Sequential Production/Chassis Number


















VIN Decoder ~ 1979-1980

Position:

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

Sample VIN:

1

5

A

0

8

1

2

3

4

5

Model Type: Golf I Cabriolet/Rabbit Convertible


















Model Year

9 = 1979         A = 1980


















Unknown


















Unknown


















Sequential Production/Chassis Number


















How The Check Digit is Calculated

Step 1:  Assign numerical values to all digits.  Numbers 1-10 retain their values.  Letters are assigned the following numerical values:


A = 1          J = 1          T = 3

B = 2          K = 2          U = 4

C = 3          L = 3          V = 5

D = 4         M = 4         W = 6

E = 5          N = 5          X = 7

F = 6          P = 7          Y = 8

G = 7          R = 9          Z = 9

H = 8          S = 2


Step 2:  Assign a weight value to each digit based on its position.


Step 3: Multiply each digit's numerical value by its weight value.


Step 4: Add the results (products) from step 3 and divide by 11.  The resulting remainder is the VIN check digit; if the remainder is 10, the check digit becomes an "X" in the VIN.


In the above example, the result is 346 / 11 = 32 with remainder of 5.  The 5 is the VIN check digit.