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Newsletter No.053 MBCA raffle, Chassis codes explained part 2,

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Newsletter Number 53
10th February 2003

Hello and welcome to another newsletter.

Hello again.  The second part of the artical on chassis numbers features in this weeks newsletter. Also some info on how to win a new SL500 and all the other usual stuff. Don't forget the workshop night this Tuesday the 11th of February.

John Green.

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Workshop open night.

Tomorrow night (Tuesday the 11th of February) we will be holding a Workshop open night in conjunction with the Mercedes-Benz Club of the ACT starting at 6.00pm with a sausage sizzle, with the main presentation starting at 7.00pm.  This will be the seventh year we have run this very popular event and I would recommend it to any of you who have not attended before.  We will be running a demonstration of our new Carsoft diagnostic system and some other interesting displays.  Apart from that, you get free beer (or soft drink) and a chance to talk cars with other Mercedes fanatics!

For any of you who missed Newsletter 50 here is the link to the PowerPoint presentation that shows the new workshop. See you there.....

MBCA raffle.

I am a member of the Mercedes-Benz Club of America.  It is the largest Mercedes-Benz club in the world.  Last week I received this e-mail from them:

 The Mercedes-Benz Club of America Raffle is in full swing.
 Win a 2003 SL500 or E320, $25,000, or $10,000.
 Each ticket has four chances to win!
 Go to
 to print out Raffle Ticket Forms and view the rules.
 Remember, you must be a current member of MBCA to win prizes in
 the Raffle, so make sure your membership doesn't expire
 before the April 16th drawing. Deadline for Raffle entries is March
 31, 2003.

 Good luck!

 Bill Hilborn
 Mercedes-Benz Club of America
 Membership Services

As I am also a member of the local Mercedes-Benz club here in the ACT (we have about 100 members) all I can say is WOW that must be a big club if they can afford to do that....... I wonder if they will supply me with a RHD one that is to Australian specs when I win it?

While you are checking out the link in the text above you might as well have good look at their site (after you finish reading this newsletter)

Chassis codes explained?  

Here is the second part of the article on chassis numbers that appeared in the Mercedes-Benz Club of the ACT monthly newsletter called STAR ACT.  It was written by Lindsay Miller with input from many sources, including myself.  Lindsay Miller is the customer who owns the 220a that was featured in Newsletter number 38.  If you have not read part one of this article you can find it here.

After reading these two articles you will no doubt understand that Mercedes-Benz chassis numbers are a very complex topic.  As mentioned in the first article, we have not even touched on the system used for the NAFTA!  If you want to do some more reading you can look at an article that I did about four years ago on the same topic by clicking here.

Understand Your -


      ENGINE and CHASSIS CODES            by Lindsay Miller




Part Two




Last month's Star ACT contained Part One of this article, covering three numbering systems for engines and chassis' of the period 1946 to 59. This Part Two finishes the story up to the present. 


1960 to 1983


 Fourteen digits were used from 1960 on. The Type and Model groups remained, the year of production digits eliminated and the code letters (N and Z) changed to numbers. Each model, regardless of year of manufacture, was numbered consecutively, requiring expansion to a six figure serial number. Thus, the year of manufacture was no longer given by the vehicle numbers. See the diagram, which uses a late model RHD 4cylinder Roundie as an example.




 The car in this diagram is one of our club members 1961 190b saloon, petrol-powered as you can see.


Here's another example:


Chassis number:  111  021  22  088515            Engine number:  129  980  22  019642


111 chassis type (it's a Finnie/heckflosse)                              129  engine type


021  body model (petrol = 0, coupe = 21)             980  engine model


2  right hand drive                                                    2  right hand drive


2  automatic transmission                                       2  automatic transmission


088515  serial number                                            019642  serial number


This car is my wifes 1967 coupe with its original 250SE engine.




Details of chassis Type and Model codes for cars of this era are given in James Taylor's "The Mercedes-Benz since 1945  Volume 2: The 1960's" and "Volume 3. The 1970's", copies of which are in the Club library for your use.




Now I'd like to deal with that outstanding 'grey area' that I forecast in Part One. Some cars, built in 1958 59 and which were CKD (Completely Knocked Down  ie assembled in Australia), were given a hybrid numbering system, heralding the system defined as starting from 1960 but retaining features of the system ending in 1959. To demonstrate: Colin McPherson's 220S Roundie saloon, built in 1959, has the engine number 180 924 20 95 02025 and the chassis number 180 010 60 95 03316. Note five things:


(1)  there are 15 digits in each number instead of the earlier era's 13 digits and the new era's 14 digits,

(2) the additional pairs '20' and '60' are from the new system and they mean RHD/manual and CKD RHD/manual respectively,

(3) hence no R, nor N or Z,

(4) the two reversed year digits were retained, not eliminated as in the new system, and

(5) the five digit serial number was retained rather than the new six digit system.




CKD cars, like Colin's, were assembled at Port Melbourne by Australian Motor Industries (AMI). Their chassis' and engines, presumably already numbered during manufacture in Germany, were probably 'unmatched' until assembly. People at the Mercedes-Benz Head Office in Melbourne, very helpfully, scanned their records and told me that they picked up more than 200 cars that (then) had these 15 digit numbers. I wonder how many of these are still on the road? We're not sure if this hybrid system was intended, or a result of confusion when introducing a new system, or whether it was confined to Australia.




Back to the 1960-83 system! Not only Roundies were CKD in the late '50's and early '60's. One club members car a 1961 W111 220Sb Finnie has chassis number 111 012 60 039220 (how apt!) and engine number 180 941 20 034836  clearly, a CKD car. How many others are in the Club?




1983 through to the Present


 A new worldwide 17 digit/letter Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) system, dealing with chassis only, was introduced progressively from 1978, reaching maturity in 1983.


 Before looking at this VIN, or chassis number system, though, I would like to deal with the engine department. Simply put, it remained unchanged, except of course that new codes were added as new engine models were introduced. Here's the engine number of a Wl24 300E 2.6, built in August 1991.


 Engine number: 103 940 22 087607

103  engine type (petrol powered)

940  engine model

2  RHD

2  Automatic transmission


087607  serial number


 Now, back to the chassis and the VIN.  The 17 digit/letter system starts with the worldwide Manufacturer Identifier Code, a group of three letters that identifies the manufacturer and the country in which manufacture took place. That most commonly seen by us in Australia is WDB which, when it was introduced in 1978, stood for 'West Germany, Daimler-Benz'. Now, simply read it as a Mercedes-Benz vehicle built in Germany.

Others seen in Australia include:


KPA = MB 100 and 140 Light Commercials built in South Korea.,

VSA = Vito Light Commercials built in Spain.,


WDC = ML  and C Class cars built in Europe, Africa and USA (but not ML for NAFTA countries); WDF = Sprinter Light Commercials built in Spain.


 Following this VIN code is the Type code (three numbers) doing the same job as before. Types of this period include the W/S/C/A124, W/Cl26, W201, through to the latest crop. (Note: in this era, instead of using just W for chassis Type codes, S was used for wagons, C for coupes and A for cabriolets. Thus, a Cl26 is a Series 126 coupe while a W126 is a Series 126 saloon, etc.)


 Model codes (the next set of three digits) up to about 1995, as far as I can determine, did the same job as before, with the first digit indicating fuel type and the others identifying the body style (saloon, coupe, etc). This era's chassis Type and Model codes, up to 1992, are listed but not explained in James Taylor's "Mercedes-Benz  Volume 4: The 1980's ", a copy of which is available from our Club library. In summary, Model codes in the 20s depict saloons, 40s depict coupes, 60s depict cabriolets, and the 80s depict wagons, but there are others unknown to me.




Still on Model codes, from 1996 new definitions came into play, explained in the following diagram:




 Following the Model codes, instead of the two digits for the LH/RH Drive and transmission codes, there is a combined digit and letter code  see the diagram above. The digit continues to identify whether the vehicle is LHD or RHD (2 = RHD), while the newly introduced letter identifies the factory of manufacture. This latter innovation helped overcome the limitations of a six figure serial number in times when production was expected to commonly exceed 999,999 units. The letter system for German factories is: 


Sindelfingen                          Passenger cars                                  A,B,C,D,E


Bremen                                  Passenger cars                                  F,G,H


Rastatt                                   Passenger cars                                  J


Woerth                                   Bus / Truck                                          I, K, L, M, N


Dusseldorf                             Light Commercials                             P, R, S


Osnabruck                             CLK Cabriolets                                   T


Mannheim                             Bus                                                       U


Gaggenau                             Unimog / Tractors                               V,W


 Elsewhere, the factory letters include:


   Graz, Austria                      4WD (G and LHD ML Wagons)        X


   Tuscaloosa, USA              NAFTA and RHD ML Wagons          A


   East London, Sth Africa    C Class Passenger cars                   R (changed recently, from F)


 After the factory letter is the chassis serial number, which remains with six digits. When a serial number reaches 999999, the next letter code for the appropriate factory would be introduced and the serial number would restart at 000001. So, Sindelfingen could be in trouble when it completes its 5 millionth Type chassis! What a pleasant problem for DaimlerChrysler to face.


 Some examples of this current system? The number shown in the diagram above is a 2002 model  W203 200K, a C Class Kompressor saloon built at East London, South Africa. Another 2002 example is WDC 163 113 2A 344140 this is Sandra Green's W163 ML 270CDI, a RHD diesel built at Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA. 


Exceptions continue! The Spanish factory at Vitoria, for Vito light commercials, has no factory letter, but the numeral 3 instead.  There may be other such exceptions. 


After all these system changes, the only chassis feature that's been lost is the identification of manual versus automatic transmissions. It's also worth mentioning here that the advent of worldwide production of assemblies (eg engines, transmissions, etc) has meant that, at least for passenger cars, the term 'CKD' has altered in meaning. Also, the pace of commercial decision making and changing of plans at the top level about where in the world production, or assembly, of cars is to occur places strains on adherence to 'systems' such as have been discussed latterly in this article. And makes the compilation of such articles an arduous affair!


 For that reason, I must express thanks to a wide range of sources and to many members of the Club who provided the proof that the systems are not figments of imagination, to local dealerships who offered explanatory documents, to Frank Ruggeri at Merimbula for valuable help on data cards, and to Neil Boothroyd and Lawrie Walton at the Head Office of DaimlerChrysler Australia/Pacific Pty. Ltd. in Melbourne, for researching a number of matters and putting me back on track particularly in relation to the complex current system. 


If any member has chassis or engine codes that don't fit into the systems described in this article, the Club would appreciate a note with details so that it can be researched. 


A comprehensive and colorful 32 page identification guide to all Mercedes-Benz chassis and engine type and model codes with their production numbers, for cars produced between 1946 and 1996 has been compiled by Neil Mansini and is available free to all club members.  Copies on CD Rom and paper are available from the library or simply email Neil Mansini at




The End



The big news on the website.

Progress has been slow but steady on the new site.  If you click here, you will get to see the test site for the new version of the website.  As with most projects, the launch time has been delayed.  It is now looking like mid March for the full change over.  Please do not try to buy anything or sign up on the subscriptions page.  Don't worry, all the back issues of the newsletter and the other information articles will be copied across.  Please feel free to offer what ever praise or criticism you like by e-mail to me. 

Link of the week.

A completely non Mercedes one this week.  The Australian Bureau of Meteorology has a web page that can show you where rain is falling. There are over thirty Weather Watch radars around Australia, so there is bound to be one near you.  Have a look here to find them.  With Canberra getting its first rain in over a month this last weekend it was interesting to look at the rain pattern as it approached.


Cars for dismantling.

Early last week I went to Melbourne to go to the damaged vehicle auctions. There were 20 damaged Mercedes-Benz's and believe it or not, I came home with none of them!!  For some reason, everybody else wanted to pay to much money for them.  But we do have some more great cars coming in anyway. 

280E W114 1975, not one straight panel on it but good engine and other mechanicals. Car has bad hail damage and then has been side swiped on both sides!!

280E W123 1981, A South African production car with, would you believe, a near perfect cream leather interior.  So if you want your 280E to stand out in a crowd give us a ring it certainly will not last long.

I did buy one car in Melbourne but it will not be for dismantling.  I have brought another W123 250 LWB sedan. Have a look at this site for some pictures of the silver one I already own.  More details on this car and what I am going to do with them in a later newsletter.

Cars for Sale.

The 260E and the 300E 24 are both sold and driving around with proud new owners.  The 280SE is also sold and should be delivered this week.

Don't forget you can check out our cars for sale here!


C180 Sedan 1998 model.

"Update" C class model. 5 speed auto, air bags, cruise control 10 stack CD and all the other great C class features. Only 94000kms and full dealer service history. Green black with unmarked dove grey MB-tex interior. $29990.00AUDMore details


230E Sedan 1986 model.

172000kms and service history. Climate control, tilt action sun roof, electric windows, alloys, unmarked tan MB-tex interior. $14990.00AUDMore details




560SEL Sedan 1986 model.

560sel-bronze.jpg - 55.94 KAn excellent example given the mileage. 240000kms but with a condition that looks more like 150000kms. Champagne duco with tan leather trim. Like all 560's it is fully optioned right down to the electric rear seats and the town and country horns system. air conditioning, multi point central locking, power steering, tilt action sunroof, climate control, etc, etc $17990.00AUDMore details


So that's it for another newsletter. Hope you liked what you saw.  If you have any ideas or want to contribute any articles, pictures or other material please e-mail me here.  Also, don't forget that you can check out the old newsletters here

Thanks, John Green.