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General Question on VIN, Build Date, Production Year, and Model Year


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(Writing in bold so the text stands out from the links. Questions in red below.)

I was reading the thread at the link below, trying to understand something about the difference between what I always though of as early '72 (pre- 2.5mph) bumpers versus late '72 (2.5mph) bumpers:

In it, Mike Self says "Changeover to the pointy guards was at 2762630 for tii's, 2585137 (carbed) and 2533173 (automatic). These VINs correspond with the beginning of 1973 production--that year's cars had to meet the Federal 2 1/2 mph bumper requirement, thus the reinforced front and rear bumper brackets which were introduced at the same VINs."

 

I do not doubt this statement, but there are several things I thought I understood that now I don't.

 

There are many published tables of 2002 VINs. One is in the back of the Macartney book. The same table is here on this site at the link below, as well as any other places:

The VINs Mike lists (for example, 2762630 for the first '73 tii) do not appear in these tables. 

 

So the dates in the table are production dates. I get that. 

 

But are the model years they correspond to (and thus the Federal regulations they were trying to comply with are ONLY listed in the paper catalog? Is there NO source online for this information? For example, searching the web for the VIN 2762630 appears to find ONLY Mike's posts and the actual tii with that VIN that came up for sale a few months back.

 

Also, doesn't this fly in the face of the whole "first series / second series" thing, where "first series" cars were manufactured before the first of the year because they DIDN'T need to comply with Federal regulations that went into effect Jan 1st of the new year, and "second series" cars, built after January 1st, did? Or did BMW stop doing this "first series / second series" thing after 1969, and there's no way to track it without a paper parts book? (Note that the "series1 / series2" thing is tracked in some of the available VIN tables.)

 

And, the specific question, the thing I wanted to get at... in the issue of the bumper change in '72, I'm simply wrong, aren't I, when I think of it as "early '72" and "late '72," right? Instead, it's "72" and "cars built and sold in '72 that were actually model year '73," isn't it?

 

Yours in a mild state of confusion,

 

--Rob

 

The new book The Best Of The Hack Mechanic available at https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0998950742, inscribed copies of all books available at www.robsiegel.com

1972 tii (Louie), 1973 2002 (Hampton), 1975 ti tribute (Bertha), 1972 Bavaria, 1973 3.0CSi, 1979 Euro 635CSi, 1999 Z3, 1999 M Coupe, 2003 530i sport, 1974 Lotus Europa Twin Cam Special (I know, I know...)

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Hey, Rob,

 

I wrote a long and fabulous response, but before I could post it, the dog jumped up at me with her plastic bone and I accidentally erased my text!  Oh sh*t!

 

In short, BMW, in the early years of the '02, often used January 1 as a "changeover date" to comply with new DOT and EPA requirements, which were often applicable on the later of (a.) the new U.S. model year, or (b.) January 1.  The U.S. was not a major driver in these early years.  But this gave way, eventually, to changes based on the model year change, such as the 1973 model year shift to 2.5 mph bumpers.  Other changes, such as the shift to the modell 71 features -- long-tail bumpers, knee trim, long consoles -- came about at neither (a.) the model year change, nor (b.) January 1.  The modell 71 shift has been variously described as occurring in March or April 1971, although the VIN shift from 167xxxx to 257xxxx occurred in mid-January 1971.  (I now believe the VIN shift and modell 71 shift are two different events, although I thought for years they were related.)  The changeover from the 121 to the E12 head occurred during the 1972 model year, in approximately March 1972 (I hope Mike S will jump in and correct some of these hazy dates for me.)

 

In addition, BMW Archives maintains data on a simple calendar-year basis, which, in turn, confuses some owners who don't realize that BMW, most German, and most American car manufacturers maintained a September-through-August U.S. model year.  Thus, we find an owner of a U.S.-spec November 1971 car saying he has a 1971 car.  He doesn't.  It's a 1972 model.

 

I'll write more when I recover from the loss of my original response!

 

Best regards,

 

Steve

 

 

 

1976 2002 Polaris, 2742541 (original owner)

1973 2002tii Inka, 2762757 (not-the-original owner)

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Yep, here I am...

 

I've been researching (and puzzling over) this whole VIN thing for 20+ years--and BMW's propensity for using calendar years for production numbers vs our (US) more normal use of model years for production figures. And Steve has your answer...in the early years of Federal requirements--both emissions and safety equipment--BMW waited 'till the last minute--1 January--to comply with the new Federal requirements, which were to take effect on...guess what...1 January.  Thus the "first series" and "second series" 1968 and 69 models.  

 

There were few new safety requirements mandated after January 1969--nothing like 1968 and '69--until the bumper requirements took effect with the 1973 cars, and (I think) somewhat earlier requirement for a seat belt warning light.  By then, I think BMW must have realized that it would be much easier from a replacement parts supply standpoint to go ahead and implement any new requirements at the beginning of the model year, rather than create two different models for a single year.  Thus the first '73s (produced in Sept 72) had the required 2.5 mph bumpers.  But BMW continued to use up parts, and make running changes during a model year.  

 

For example...At Ofest this year I had an opportunity to closely examine a very early US spec 1968 model year 1600 (VIN 15606xx, IIRC) that was assembled sometime in October 1967.  And while it was a US specific model, and 1968 production year, it had the chrome trim on the dash, chrome plastic surrounds on the instruments, shiny wiper arms, no side markers or seat headrests--just like a '67.  But it did have the "safety" breakaway inside rear view mirror--a (not until) 1 January 1968 safety requirement.  The outside mirror was mounted on the leading edge of the door, just like the '67s.  Oh, and it was 12 volt. So it was obvious that BMW was using up all those pieces that wouldn't be legal for US cars that were produced after 1 January.  But they must have run out of inside mirrors.

 

Another oddity at Ofest was a '72 tii, VIN 2760007--it came from the factory with no sway bars!  And it had some small parts that the parts book indicate weren't first installed until many months later...the owners think it might have been the LA Auto Show display car...

 

And moving on to the modell 71 cars, Steve, I tend to agree with you on the changeover from (on 2002s) 166/167xxxx VINs to the 257xxxx VINs for the modell 71 cars.  I've seen early modell 71 cars with no lower side moulding, with silver dollar instruments and several other features that were supposedly begun with VIN 2570001.  It would be helpful for folks on the FAQ with low 257 VINs ) below 2570500 or so) could chime in with what features their car has.  

BMW made lots of running changes during a production year--both large (like switching cylinder heads) to small (like the rear quarter window latches--there are three distinct styles, one of which was first used sometime in January 1973--mid-year for '73 cars)

 

Some years ago, for a Roundel story, I extrapolated model year VIN cutoffs when the actual numbers weren't evident.  I did this by taking the calendar year production, dividing by 12 and then multiplying out by 8, the number of months (Jan-Aug) that a model year car was produced in a calendar year.  When I tried my scheme on known VIN years, it was pretty close.  

 

Then to further muddy the waters for owners, some states allow an "essentially identical" car from the previous model year to be sold as the next model year if the sale occurred after a certain date (usually in the fall).  Thus a "leftover" 1970 2002--built before 31 Aug 1970--but not sold until, say November 1970--would be titled (in some states) as a 1971.  

 

OK, I've prattled on long enough on this topic.  It ain't easy to grasp, but (as with most things German) there is some logic lurking somewhere...

 

cheers

mike

 

'69 Nevada sunroof-Wolfgang-bought new
'73 Sahara sunroof-Ludwig-since '78
'91 Brillantrot 318is sunroof-Georg Friederich 
Fiat Topolini (Benito & Luigi), Renault 4CVs (Anatole, Lucky Pierre, Brigette) & Kermit, the Bugeye Sprite

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Mike, Steve, thanks to you both. Next beer's on me...

The new book The Best Of The Hack Mechanic available at https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0998950742, inscribed copies of all books available at www.robsiegel.com

1972 tii (Louie), 1973 2002 (Hampton), 1975 ti tribute (Bertha), 1972 Bavaria, 1973 3.0CSi, 1979 Euro 635CSi, 1999 Z3, 1999 M Coupe, 2003 530i sport, 1974 Lotus Europa Twin Cam Special (I know, I know...)

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8 hours ago, mike said:

Yep, here I am...

 

I've been researching (and puzzling over) this whole VIN thing for 20+ years--and BMW's propensity for using calendar years for production numbers vs our (US) more normal use of model years for production figures. And Steve has your answer...in the early years of Federal requirements--both emissions and safety equipment--BMW waited 'till the last minute--1 January--to comply with the new Federal requirements, which were to take effect on...guess what...1 January.  Thus the "first series" and "second series" 1968 and 69 models.  

 

There were few new safety requirements mandated after January 1969--nothing like 1968 and '69--until the bumper requirements took effect with the 1973 cars, and (I think) somewhat earlier requirement for a seat belt warning light.  By then, I think BMW must have realized that it would be much easier from a replacement parts supply standpoint to go ahead and implement any new requirements at the beginning of the model year, rather than create two different models for a single year.  Thus the first '73s (produced in Sept 72) had the required 2.5 mph bumpers.  But BMW continued to use up parts, and make running changes during a model year.  

 

For example...At Ofest this year I had an opportunity to closely examine a very early US spec 1968 model year 1600 (VIN 15606xx, IIRC) that was assembled sometime in October 1967.  And while it was a US specific model, and 1968 production year, it had the chrome trim on the dash, chrome plastic surrounds on the instruments, shiny wiper arms, no side markers or seat headrests--just like a '67.  But it did have the "safety" breakaway inside rear view mirror--a (not until) 1 January 1968 safety requirement.  The outside mirror was mounted on the leading edge of the door, just like the '67s.  Oh, and it was 12 volt. So it was obvious that BMW was using up all those pieces that wouldn't be legal for US cars that were produced after 1 January.  But they must have run out of inside mirrors.

 

Another oddity at Ofest was a '72 tii, VIN 2760007--it came from the factory with no sway bars!  And it had some small parts that the parts book indicate weren't first installed until many months later...the owners think it might have been the LA Auto Show display car...

 

And moving on to the modell 71 cars, Steve, I tend to agree with you on the changeover from (on 2002s) 166/167xxxx VINs to the 257xxxx VINs for the modell 71 cars.  I've seen early modell 71 cars with no lower side moulding, with silver dollar instruments and several other features that were supposedly begun with VIN 2570001.  It would be helpful for folks on the FAQ with low 257 VINs ) below 2570500 or so) could chime in with what features their car has.  

BMW made lots of running changes during a production year--both large (like switching cylinder heads) to small (like the rear quarter window latches--there are three distinct styles, one of which was first used sometime in January 1973--mid-year for '73 cars)

 

Some years ago, for a Roundel story, I extrapolated model year VIN cutoffs when the actual numbers weren't evident.  I did this by taking the calendar year production, dividing by 12 and then multiplying out by 8, the number of months (Jan-Aug) that a model year car was produced in a calendar year.  When I tried my scheme on known VIN years, it was pretty close.  

 

Then to further muddy the waters for owners, some states allow an "essentially identical" car from the previous model year to be sold as the next model year if the sale occurred after a certain date (usually in the fall).  Thus a "leftover" 1970 2002--built before 31 Aug 1970--but not sold until, say November 1970--would be titled (in some states) as a 1971.  

 

OK, I've prattled on long enough on this topic.  It ain't easy to grasp, but (as with most things German) there is some logic lurking somewhere...

 

cheers

mike

 

Mike,

In which issue of the Roundel was your story? Sounds like it'd be a good read for all...

Thanks,

-Bob   

-Bob
(current: 1972 Malaga 2002, VIN 2584644, build date July 26, 1972)

 

Previous: 1973 Sahara 2002 #2585896 (RIP), 1969 1600, 1971 2002, 1964 Triumph Herald convertible, 1965 Triumph Herald convertible, 1961 Triumph TR3A, 1967 Triumph TR4A-irs, 1959 Austin Healey 100/6, and about 10 other cars (most of which were quite boring)...

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One of the more surprising and strange 02 versioning things (speaking of VINs, bumpers, changeovers) I've tripped across is that Wegweiser's tii and my tii were built one day apart in June '72.  My car is the euro version, his is USA version.  Neither one has been modified that anyone can tell.  

 

The F Bomb has plastic runners, the 121 head, the smaller front bumper guards - kind of what you'd expect.  Mine has the E12 head, aluminum runners, and pointy front bumper guards.  

 

One day apart.  

 

I've had this thought a million times - we need to find some people that worked in that factory or worked at BMW and were close to the cars at that time!  I have a feeling a couple of conversations with people that worked there would clear a lot up.  It might be getting too late, though.

 

Scott

Edited by saaron

02ing since '87

'72 tii Euro  //  '21 330i x //  '14 BMW X5  //  '12 VW Jetta GLI

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3 hours ago, saaron said:

One of the more surprising and strange 02 versioning things (speaking of VINs, bumpers, changeovers) I've tripped across is that Wegweiser's tii and my tii were built one day apart in June '72.  My car is the euro version, his is USA version.  Neither one has been modified that anyone can tell.  

 

The F Bomb has plastic runners, the 121 head, the smaller front bumper guards - kind of what you'd expect.  Mine has the E12 head, aluminum runners, and pointy front bumper guards.  

 

One day apart.  

 

Hey, Rob,

 

Don't let Scott with his sophisticated Euro version tii confuse you with extraneous facts.  I can do that all on my own!  ??

 

Regards,

 

Steve

 

 

1976 2002 Polaris, 2742541 (original owner)

1973 2002tii Inka, 2762757 (not-the-original owner)

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In the 60s MB also used the calendar year production as the model year as we call it but they also switched production to the US model year every September.  I maintain the e9 coupe registry and the change to the 73 bumpers happened just like with the 2002.  The first 73 US coupes were produced in September of 72 and the DOT/EPA sticker also states the year of compliance with these regs.  I e-mailed the BMW Archive for the build dates of these first model year changeovers, the same could be done with the 2002 changeover VINs.  But beware, VINs are not built sequentially and can be as much as two or three weeks apart for two consecutive VINs.  Maybe this was because the same color cars were painted at the same time, I am not sure.

 

As to the 68 model year 1600 for the US built in late 1967, they all had wide seats, no headrests and no side markers, same for my former 11/68 build 69 2002.

HBChris

`73 3.0CS Chamonix, `69 2000 NK Atlantik

`70 2800 Polaris, `79 528i Chamonix

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3 hours ago, Conserv said:

Hey, Rob,

 

Don't let Scott with his sophisticated Euro version tii confuse you with extraneous facts.  I can do that all on my own!  ??

 

Regards,

 

Steve

 

HA!  You can say whatever you want about my car - it doesn't speak English, so it will never know.  It IS very upset that the USA 2002 people are putting on euro bumpers, lights, turn signals, etc.  He doesn't like that.  I think he feels less special.  So we don't discuss that.  Just avoid that.  Try to only park near cars with big bumpers, etc, at places like Vintage.  

 

Scott

02ing since '87

'72 tii Euro  //  '21 330i x //  '14 BMW X5  //  '12 VW Jetta GLI

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I found Paul's info.  I kept it.  

 

I've spent a fair amount of time deciphering the parts books, when I worked at Maximillian, on this particular topic. Here's what I believe occurred. It's as if they found some spare plastic runners, used them during the middle of the metal runner production run, then returned to the updated metal ones. maybe the first batch of metal ones had a problem?

Or... they ran out of plastic ones, then found out they worked more reliably, and decided to change over later?

USA VINS used for reference:

2760001-2761944 = plastic runners

2761945-2762014 = metal runners

2762015-2762372 = plastic runners

2762373 on = metal runners.

Of interest here:

There's a cylinder head change between 121ti and E12 that corresponds with this intake change.

Trivia....yeah, I have lots of that.

Paul

02ing since '87

'72 tii Euro  //  '21 330i x //  '14 BMW X5  //  '12 VW Jetta GLI

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12 minutes ago, saaron said:

I found Paul's info.  I kept it.  

 

I've spent a fair amount of time deciphering the parts books, when I worked at Maximillian, on this particular topic. Here's what I believe occurred. It's as if they found some spare plastic runners, used them during the middle of the metal runner production run, then returned to the updated metal ones. maybe the first batch of metal ones had a problem?

 

Or... they ran out of plastic ones, then found out they worked more reliably, and decided to change over later?

 

USA VINS used for reference:

 

2760001-2761944 = plastic runners

 

2761945-2762014 = metal runners

 

2762015-2762372 = plastic runners

 

2762373 on = metal runners.

 

Of interest here:

 

There's a cylinder head change between 121ti and E12 that corresponds with this intake change.

 

Trivia....yeah, I have lots of that.

 

Paul

 

 

Thanks for digging this out, Scott!

 

And, obviously, Paul has tremendous credibility when it comes to such matters.  And yes, but, I purchased and parted 2762204 (manufactured July 10, 1972) in 1974 -- totaled, but not by me!  And it had aluminum runners, so it was an exception to the exception!

 

I'll bet the truth is even more nuanced than Paul's excellent analysis presents.

 

Best regards,

 

Steve

 

 

1976 2002 Polaris, 2742541 (original owner)

1973 2002tii Inka, 2762757 (not-the-original owner)

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15 hours ago, RAS-2002 said:

Some years ago, for a Roundel story, I extrapolated model year VIN cutoffs when the actual numbers weren't evident.  I did this by taking the calendar year production, dividing by 12 and then multiplying out by 8, the number of months (Jan-Aug) that a model year car was produced in a calendar year.  When I tried my scheme on known VIN years, it was pretty close.  

 I think it was in the December 2002 BMW CCA Roundel magazine.  If not please post and I'll check my Roundel collection.

 

mike

'69 Nevada sunroof-Wolfgang-bought new
'73 Sahara sunroof-Ludwig-since '78
'91 Brillantrot 318is sunroof-Georg Friederich 
Fiat Topolini (Benito & Luigi), Renault 4CVs (Anatole, Lucky Pierre, Brigette) & Kermit, the Bugeye Sprite

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The article in the December 2002 Roundel is titled "Car of the Year of the Car."  Outside of James Taylor's book "BMW 2002 The Restorer's Reference," it remains to this day the best, most concise but thorough list of the series-to-series and year-to-year differences that I have seen.

 

The question of tiis switching between plastic and metal intake plenums is one that I asked in the tii VIN thread, but I posed it a different way:

 

If the first 1973 tii is VIN 2762630, as Mike deduces from the VIN of the change to pointy bumper overriders for the tii listed in the parts catalog, and if cars from 2762373 on had metal intake plenums, then doesn't that mean that there are model year '72 tiis with metal plenums and close-in bumpers (e.g., the pre-2 1/2 mph bumpers without the pointy overriders)? I always referred to these as "late '72 tiis," but I've recently learned that I've had many things wrong, so I began to wonder whether this was true.

 

I believe it is. Laying out my hypothesis:

 

start of tii 1972 US model year 

2760001-2761944 = plastic plenums, 121 head, and close-in bumpers -- 1944 cars

2761945-2762014 = metal plenums, E12 head, and close-in bumpers --  70 cars

2762015-2762372 = plastic plenums, 121 head, and close-in bumpers  -- 358 cars

2762373-2762629 = metal plenums, E12 head, and close-in bumpers  -- 257 cars

start of tii 1973 US model year 

2762630                = metal plenums, E12 head, and 2 1/2 mph bumpers

 

If that is correct, it would mean that there were:

 

2302 '72tiis with plastic plenums, the 121 head, and close-in bumpers

327 '72tiis with metal plenums, the E12 head, and close-in bumpers

 

making it the rarest US-spec tii configuration, considerably rarer in fact than the much-touted early '72tii with plastic intake plenums.

 

I killed a bunch of time last night looking online trying to find one. The only example I found was the automatic-swapped tii sold by Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day that was up on BaT (http://bringatrailer.com/2013/12/09/auto-swapped-1973-bmw-2002tii/). The comments included a lively discussion of this exact point, with Delia Wolfe chiming in with the same set of VINs for the intake plenum back-and-forth, and concluding that model-year 1972 tiis with metal plenums probably do exist, but are rare. 

 

This is kind of cool, because with the VIN range, it lets you think of it this way: 

 

If your car is a '72tii, and it has metal plenums, and the VIN falls into one the two ranges above, and the engine VIN matches the body, and it has an E12 head, it probably came that way. I'd argue that if the engine VIN matches the body and it has an E12 head and the VIN is very close to the two ranges above, it probably came that way.

 

But if the head and the plenums don't match, or if the VIN isn't close to the ranges, someone probably put on metal plenums to solve a persistent vacuum leak problem at the o-rings of the plastic plenums.

 

Fun, huh?

 

--Rob

 

 

The new book The Best Of The Hack Mechanic available at https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0998950742, inscribed copies of all books available at www.robsiegel.com

1972 tii (Louie), 1973 2002 (Hampton), 1975 ti tribute (Bertha), 1972 Bavaria, 1973 3.0CSi, 1979 Euro 635CSi, 1999 Z3, 1999 M Coupe, 2003 530i sport, 1974 Lotus Europa Twin Cam Special (I know, I know...)

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So going back to the tii vin thread, you could start putting dates to those vins if you wanted to, since some of those posts had the info from BMW - the vin and production date info.  But you could start narrowing down the points in time when the changes happened, or at least a range, if you started matching back the above info re the head/intake flip flop, and the production dates of those vins.  

 

Scott

02ing since '87

'72 tii Euro  //  '21 330i x //  '14 BMW X5  //  '12 VW Jetta GLI

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