12 Digit VIN Decoder: Decode Classic VIN Numbers

If you are looking at a car from the 50s to the 80s, you are looking at a classic car. Old car specifications and history records are hard to come by. Use our 12 digit VIN decoder for detailed information on classic cars. Decode VINs now.

Understanding VIN Numbers: What is a VIN?

A VIN is a sequence of characters that serve as an identifier for every manufactured car. The VIN is like the fingerprint of a vehicle and contains detailed information about the vehicle’s manufacturer, production specifications, engine specifications, model year, and more. The VIN usually doesn’t have the letters Q (q), I (i), and O (o) just to avoid mixing it up with the 0 and 1 figures.

The VIN can also be used as a code to track previous records from the Department of motor vehicles, DMV, on any classic or modern vehicle. Accident records, lien and loan records, sales listings, auction records, and more can be viewed in a vehicle history report with a few clicks.

How many digits is the standard VIN?

17 characters! This became standard in 1981 and it has made it difficult for some decoders to decode classic VINs between 5 to 13 digits which were in use before the standardization. With Classic Decoder, the narrative changes.

Our free 12 digit VIN decoder essentially breaks down the VIN in seconds to access accurate specifications and manufacturer information you need to know. You can also get a classic car VIN history. Don’t waste any more time.  Learn everything you need to know about any classic car now.

Difference Between 12 Digit VINs and 17 Digit VINs

Feature 17 Digit VIN 12 Digit VIN
Standardized format Yes (since 1981) No
Length 17 characters Variable (often 12)
Information encoded Detailed (manufacturer, production year, assembly plant, engine type, body style, etc.) Limited (manufacturer, model year, sometimes assembly plant)
Example 2T1BURHE0FC320645 41847L100001

Where is the VIN located?

You can easily spot the 12-digit VIN number on a classic car when you know where to look, especially considering there wasn’t a standardized location before 1981. You can find the VIN on the:

where to find vin number
  • Driver-side dashboard near the windshield
  • Driver-side door jamb
  • Behind the engine
  • Under the hood near the radiator
  • On the steering column
  • Vehicle registration documents
  • Famous Classic Cars With 12-Digit VINs

    Are you a buyer, seller, dealer, or collector interested in classic cars, here is a simple list to help you on your journey. These are our top picks of classic cars with 12-digit VINs. We also took the time to include an example of a detailed report! Check them out:

    1. Chevrolet Impala (1960-1964)

    We found some interesting records in the report generated for the 1962 Chevrolet Impala.

    Here’s what we found:

    2. 1934 Ford 40 V8 Series

    The 1934 Ford 40 V8 Series, identified by its 12-digit VIN, made car history. It was the first affordable car with a powerful V8 engine, making it a popular choice for drivers back then. Its sleek design and strong performance continue to draw collectors and car enthusiasts even today.

    Check out this classic report to view the vehicle’s accurate specifications and clean records.

    3. 1967 Shelby Mustang GT500

    The 1967 Shelby Mustang GT500 packed a punch with a big V8 engine, a mean-looking fiberglass body, and the speed to leave others in the dust. This car wasn’t just powerful, it showed the world that the Mustang had grown up, becoming a serious contender in the world of high-performance cars. It’s no wonder it’s still loved by car enthusiasts everywhere.

    Shelby Mustang

    How to Read a 12 Digit VIN Number

    12 digit vin number

    Reading a 12 digit VIN manually is an easy task if you know what each character represents. Here is a detailed breakdown of what information each character holds:

    First Digit

    The first character of the 12 digit VIN represents the model year of the classic car.

    Second and Third Digit

    These digits in the VIN number sequence indicate the specific series model of the classic vehicle..

    Fourth and Fifth Digits

    Characters four and five provide information on the vehicle’s body style.

    Sixth Digit

    The sixth digit gives information about the vehicle’s assembly/production plant. 

    Seventh to Twelfth Digits

    These characters on the car’s VIN serve as a unique “serial” number for each vehicle. While they may not provide information, they distinguish one vehicle from others of the same kind produced on the assembly line.

    While these general guidelines apply to many classic VINs, keep in mind that variations exist because there was no standardized format until 1981. 

    Most of the time, you can only get so little information without a tool. For a detailed breakdown, you will need to decode 12 digit VIN numbers with our decoder. Try it now and access comprehensive specifications and information encoded in the number.

    Common issues with 12-digit VINs

    While having a 12-digit VIN in itself isn’t a problem, it can present various challenges due to the standardization of 17-digit VINs:

    Data sources

    Incompatibility with databases

    Many online VIN decoders and vehicle history databases are built for the 17-digit format, potentially rejecting or offering inaccurate information for 12-digit VINs. Classic Decoder’s tool however changes this story! We are the first and current best in decoding classic car VINs.

    Search

    Lack of historical data

    Due to the age of classic vehicles, historical data for vehicles with 12-digit VINs may be sparse or incomplete, making it challenging for car buyers and sellers to track the vehicle's past ownership, maintenance, and any incidents it may have been involved in.

    Potential

    Potential registration hurdles

    Depending on local regulations, a 12-digit VIN might require additional documentation or verification steps for registration or title transfer.

    Alert

    Insurance complexities

    Some insurance companies might require additional verification or have limited access to vehicle history with a 12-digit VIN, potentially impacting insurance rates or coverage.

    Finding compatible parts

    Identifying the exact parts needed for repair or restoration can be trickier with a 12-digit VIN, requiring cross-referencing with older parts catalogs or specialist knowledge.

    These are some of the problems with having a classic car with 12 digit VINs. These problems can be significantly solved with our tools. Need to decode a classic VIN and access specifications and history records? Our VIN check tool is all you need!

    What about finding parts? With a detailed list of specifications provided by our VIN decoder, you can easily spot original parts in the market and make the right choices.

    What Can You Find With a 12 Digit VIN Number Lookup?

    With our classic VIN number lookup free, you can easily and instantly gain access to the following information:

    Car specifications
    Read More

    Information such as the year, make, model, trim level, body style, dimensions, engine size, suspension, gear ratios, capacities, exhaust, ignition, wheels, rims, tires, fuel economy, and more.

    Sales history
    Read More

    Historical records of the car's sales, including details from classifieds or digital marketplaces, mileage, color, and price.

    Title change history
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    Examine the number of times the car's title has been changed, along with the type of change, odometer reading, and VIN. .

    Accident and damage records
    Read More

    Learn if the classic car has been in any accidents, particularly hidden structural damages that may affect its condition.

    60+ Title Checks
    Read More

    Access over 60 title checks, covering salvage title, rebuilt status, junk title, insurance checks, and more.

    Lien and loan records
    Read More

    Verify the presence of any outstanding lien or loan records on the vehicle, which can help prevent future financial complications.

    Ownership records
    Read More

    Get a 12 digit VIN number lookup to discover the total number of owners, their locations, and the duration of each ownership.

    Mileage records
    Read More

    View the vehicle's mileage before buying or selling to identify any discrepancies.

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    Car specifications

    Information such as the year, make, model, trim level, body style, dimensions, engine size, suspension, gear ratios, capacities, exhaust, ignition, wheels, rims, tires, fuel economy, and more.

    Ownership records

    Get a 12 digit VIN number lookup to discover the total number of owners, their locations, and the duration of each ownership.

    Mileage records

    View the vehicle's mileage before buying or selling to identify any discrepancies.

    Title change history

    Examine the number of times the car's title has been changed, along with the type of change, odometer reading, and VIN.

    classic car alignment specifications
    title-checks
    saleshistory
    lien-loan
    title-history
    Ownership records
    accident records
    mileage records
    60+ Title Checks

    Access over 60 title checks, covering salvage title, rebuilt status, junk title, insurance checks, and more.

    Lien and loan records

    Verify the presence of any outstanding lien or loan records on the vehicle, which can help prevent future financial complications.

    Sales history

    Historical records of the car's sales, including details from classifieds or digital marketplaces, mileage, color, and price.

    Accident and damage records

    Learn if the classic car has been in any accidents, particularly hidden structural damages that may affect its condition.

    Simplify VIN Checks With Our Mobile Application

    What does the Classic Car VIN decoder application provide:

    Why Should You Decode a Classic Car VIN?

    If you are a buyer, seller, owner, or even dealer, having an idea of the vehicle specifications, manufacturer information, and history gives you an advantage in the classic car market. This applies also to motorcycles, trucks, RVs, and more.

    You can easily and accurately spot replicas and fraudulent alterations on 12 digit vin decoder Ford, Chevy, Toyota cars and even classic motorcycles like Suzuki, kawasaki, honda bikes, and leave with only the best deals. Here are some more reasons why you should use our 12 digit VIN decoder free app:

    classic car auctions
  • Verify specifications: Classic cars are old cars and it’s extremely difficult to get the specifications through old documents. A VIN decoder clearly shows the full specifications in a few seconds and the best part is that you can decode the VIN for free with our tool. Use our 12 digit vin number search tool today.
  • Detailed Historical Records:  By checking the VIN of a classic car, you can easily and instantly access its present condition and history and make informed decisions. With access to accident records, theft reports, title brand details, damage records, and more, you can identify potential issues and avoid vehicles in poor conditions.
  • Avoiding fraud: With the increase in the value of classic cars, there are fake classics in the market. According to Specialty Equipment Market Association, experts estimate that 5-10% of classic cars traded might be replicas or have some form of fraudulent alteration. With a VIN lookup, car buyers can better verify authenticity, spot fraudulent activities, and avoid scams.
    Safety and roadworthiness: Accident records, damage records, theft records, title brand records, mileage records, and other records point out the safety and roadworthiness of the car. This information is essential for ensuring that the classic car meets current motor vehicle safety standards and regulations.
  • Accurate Pricing:  By decoding the VIN, you can confirm the exact specifications and history of the classic car. This ensures that the pricing aligns with the accurate model, trim level, and current condition of any vehicle
  • Get Build Sheets With Production Data

    Pontiac Catalina

    Build sheets are prized jewels for classic car collectors, buyers, and sellers. A build sheet, decoded from the VIN number assigned to a classic car, gives accurate production line data, manufacturer information, technical specifications, engine type, build plant and country, transmission, drivetrain, suspension, and more.

    Classic Decoder vs. VINAudit: Which is a Better VIN Decoder?

    Comparison Classic Decoder VINAudit VIN Data
    Standard specifications
    Vehicle images
    Sales listings
    Accident and damage records
    Vehicle Usage Record
    Event Verification
    Theft records
    Title brand records
    Auction records
    Car mileage
    Ownership records
    Detailed reports
    Lien and loan records
    Detailed Vehicle History

    How To Decode 12 Digit VINs

    To get a 12 digit VIN number search, all you need to do is:

    1

    Find the VIN 

    2

    Navigate to the form on this page

    3

    Fill out the form completely 

    4

    Access vehicle information with our classic vehicle VIN decoder

    Build Sheets for Accurate Classic Car Evaluation

    Whether selling or buying a classic car, verifying the original features, engine and other build details can help you make an informed decision about the classic car – enhancing accurate classic car valuation. You can easily access all these details in the Classic Build Sheet.

    build sheet by vin

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Reading a 12-digit VIN is straightforward. Each character holds specific information:

  • The first digit represents the model year.
  • The second and third digits indicate the series model.
  • Characters four and five provide details about the vehicle’s body style.
  • The sixth digit signifies the assembly/ production plant.
  • The seventh to twelfth digits serve as a unique serial number for each vehicle.
  • Decoding an old VIN involves using a reliable VIN decoder tool. Our free 12-digit VIN decoder breaks down the VIN in seconds, providing accurate specifications and manufacturer information, along with classic car VIN history.
    A 1980 VIN number typically has 17 characters. The standardization to 17 digits became effective in 1981. However, older VINs, especially from the 50s to the 80s, can have varying lengths, often being between 5 to 13 digits.

    For decoding an 11-digit VIN, you can use our VIN decoder tool. Simply find the VIN on your classic Ford, navigate to the form on our page, fill it out completely, and access detailed vehicle information, including specifications and history. You can also decode Chevy Silverado VINs, Kawasaki VINS, and even RVs and truck VINs with our accurate tool.