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1960-1980 Ford, Lincoln, and Mercury
Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) Explanation

Here's what all the numbers mean

Image: Ford VIN data plate

LOCATION OF DATA PLATE:

1960-1963 = Left front body pillar below driver's door hinge opening
1964-1973 = Driver's door lock facing (mounted on door)
1974-1980 = Driver's door lock pillar (mounted on body)

TYPE OF PLATE:
1960-1969 = Metal plate riveted on
1970-1980 = Mylar with light blue background; adhesive attachment

Note 1: This is also referred to as the "Patent Plate" or "Warranty Plate" depending on the source.
Note 2: Starting in 1968 and continuing through 1980, a metal tab with the VIN stamped into it is mounted on the upper body cowl and is visible through the windshield.


Here's a typical 11-digit Ford, Lincoln, or Mercury vehicle identification number (VIN):

0Y71J 100001 (shown as *1Y73Z 137925* in the example above)

This VIN identifies the very first 1960 Ford Thunderbird 2-Door Hardtop built at the Wixom, Michigan Assembly Plant, and it had a 430 CID V-8 engine. Want to know how we know all of that? Here's how:

FIRST DIGIT - Model Year Identification (Number):
0=1960, 1=1961, 2=1962, 3=1963, 4=1964, 5=1965, 6=1966, 7=1967, 8=1968, 9=1969

0=1970, 1=1971, 2=1972, through 9=1979

0=1980

You have to guess at the decade, which is usually pretty easy to do with most vehicles.

Image: 1969 Lincoln Continental CoupeSECOND DIGIT - Assembly Plant Code (Letter):
A = Atlanta, Georgia
B = Oakville, Ontario
C = Chester, Pennsylvania (through 1962)
D = Dallas, Texas
E = Mahwah, New Jersey
F = Dearborn, Michigan
G = Chicago, Illinois
H = Lorain, Ohio
J = Los Angeles, California
K = Kansas City, Missouri
N = Norfolk, Virginia
P = St. Paul, Minnesota
R = San Jose, California
S = Allen Park, Michigan
T = Metuchen, New Jersey
U = Louisville, Kentucky
W = Wayne, Michigan
X = St. Thomas, Ontario
Y = Wixom, Michigan
Z = St. Louis, Missouri

THIRD AND FOURTH DIGITS - Body Series Code (Numbers):
This is typically two numbers and identifies the body type of the car (2-door hardtop, 4-door sedan, convertible, station wagon, etc.)
(We will provide more information on Body Series Code Numbers in the future, and link to it from here as it is rather lengthy.)

FIFTH DIGIT - Engine Identification Code (Letter):
This is typically a letter that identifies the specific engine originally installed in the vehicle. At times, a number has also been used in this position. There are documented examples of vehicles that left the factory with a different engine than the one indicated in the VIN.

SIXTH THRU ELEVENTH DIGITS - Consecutive Unit Number (Numbers):
Ford = 100001-399999 (1960-1969)
Ford = 100001-399999; 600001-899999 (Dearborn Assembly; beginning in 1965 due to the popularity of the Ford Mustang. Highest documented was 806693)

Lincoln = 400001-499999 (1960-1966)
Lincoln = 800001-899999 (1967-1968)
Lincoln = 848001-899000 (1969 only)
Lincoln = 999001-999999 (1964-1969 Sedan models for conversion to Lehmann-Peterson Limousine only)

Mercury = 500001-799999 (1960-1969 Mercury, except 1960-1961 Comet)
Comet = 800001 - 999999 (1960-1961 Comet; Originally intended to be part of the Edsel line, which was discontinued early in the 1960 model year. The name Mercury does not actually appear on the car)

The consecutive unit number was immediately assigned to a vehicle when a retail or stock order was received. Next, the scheduled production date was assigned to that vehicle, based on assembly plant scheduling considerations, availability of trim, specific optional equipment, etc.

A unit scheduled to be built on a specific date wasn't necessarily built on that date. In fact, it can be unusual to come across a car that was actually built on its scheduled date. Normally, the actual date built is before or after the scheduled date, but it depends on the assembly plant where the car was being assembled. It is not unusual at all to document a car with a higher consecutive unit number that was built before a car with a lower consecutive unit number.