Decoding Koenigsegg VINs

Some of you might be wondering why I place so much emphasis on finding the full VINs of the Koenigsegg cars we identify, as opposed to simply being satisfied with the chassis number.  I believe that once you discover the key information that a VIN can hold, a VIN is a useful tool to learning about a specific car.  For example It was the VIN that told us that the CCXR Trevita in Switerland was originally a South African RHD car.

So if you're wondering how VINs are constructed, and the significance of all those letters and numbers, I’ve decided to put together a post explaining just that.  Here I will also examine what Koenigsegg VINs can tell us about each individual car.

Prior to 1981, all automobile manufacturers had different methods of assigning VINs and serial numbers to their cars. Beginning in the 1981 model year, nearly all vehicle manufacturers began adhering to a new, standardized 17-digit VIN structure established by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE). This VIN structure is still in use today, and applies to all road-legal vehicles, including automobiles, motorcycles, medium duty trucks, and even trailers. Each character of the VIN represents or indicates various aspects of the vehicle, allowing it to be positively identified by government agencies, licensing agencies, insurance agencies and law enforcement agencies. I will break down the various components of the VIN and how their characters are derived.

The Basics

The first three digits of the VIN are the World Make Identifier (WMI). Every manufacturer is assigned its own WMI by the SAE, which is unique to that manufacturer. The first character of the WMI (and thus the first digit of every VIN) designates the country of origin (see Appendix A). For Sweden, this digit is Y. Digits 2-3 of the VIN are then used to further identify the manufacturer; these could be letters or numbers.  However, in the case of a manufacturer of less than 1000 vehicles a year (such as Koenigsegg, Spyker, Bugatti), digit 3 will always be 9. This is the only circumstance where you will see a 9 in a WMI.

In most cases, digits 12-17 (the last six digits) of the VIN are allocated for the manufacturer’s sequential production number (serial number, or chassis number). However, in the case of a manufacturer who builds less than 500 vehicles a year (such as we have indicated above), the first three digits of these last six are used to further identify the manufacturer. In other words, digits 12-14 of a small manufacturer become a further component of the WMI.  So a large manufacturer will have a three digit WMI, but a small manufacturer's WMI is actually six digits, in two different places in the VIN.  So Ferrari's WMI is ZFF and Porsche's is WP0 (yes, in the eyes of the SAE those two are large manufacturers!).  However, as small manufacturers, Bugatti's WMI is VF9/795 and Spyker's is XL9/363.

An interesting tidbit: Lamborghini's WMI today is ZHW.  However, before mid-2003 (upon the introduction of the high-volume Gallardo model), Lamborghini was classed as a small manufacturer, and their WMI was ZA9/A12.

Koengisegg's WMI is YT9/007, and has been used without variance on every Koenigsegg car produced.

The remaining digits of the VIN are to be used by the manufacturer in a manner to represent each car it builds, in a manner that will prevent VIN duplication over a period 30 years of production.  The SAE provides some rules regarding the application of specific digits to these VINs that are followed in most cases.  But there are examples where these rules are only followed by some manufacturers for their North American market cars.

The Koenigsegg CCX was designed from the outset to be sold in the United States.  Thus, upon the start of CCX production, Koenigsegg began using a different VIN structure than it had been previously (more on early Koenigsegg VIN structure in the next section).  The CCX-Series and later Koenigsegg VIN structure follows SAE standard, and since it is the one we know more about, is the one we will talk about first. 

CCX-Series and Agera Series VIN structure

By SAE regulation, digit 11 is used by the manufacturer to identify the plant the vehicle was assembled at. For Koenigseggs built at the Angelholm facility, this digit is A.

By combining Koenigsegg's WMI and the plant digit of A, we can establish that the base VIN structure for any Angelholm-assembled Koenigsegg CCX-series (or later) car will always be YT9xxxxxxxA007###.

Further, digit 10 indicates the vehicle Model Year (see Appendix B). It is not the same as production date. Model Year is a concept seen more in the U.S. than perhaps other parts of the world.  In the EU it is not uncommon to see a vehicle referred to as a certain "year" based on the year of its first registration.  For the purpose of our discussion we are talking about Model Year in the U.S. sense.

Vehicles must be built to conform to certain regulatory specifications in many worldwide markets. As far as any government or licensing agency is concerned, digit 10 indicates the model year of that car, and it must conform to regulations in place for that model year. Some small, boutique manufacturers who hand-build their cars (such as Morgan or Spyker) will sometimes make running changes to their production which will lead to some confusion as to what year a car is. But the 10th digit of the VIN is word.

In the U.S. a car cannot be offered for sale more than one New Year’s Day ahead of its calendar model year. The most extreme case of this is the 1997 Ford F150 pickup truck. Ford began shipping 1997 F150’s to dealers on January 2, 1996. This means that there are 1997 Ford F150’s with production dates as early as Fall of 1995.  Another great example is the 2012 Lexus LFA, which began deliveries in January of 2011 and continued on sale well into 2013 (In the LFA's case all units sold as MY2012's in calendar year 2013 were already built before the end of 2012).

The ninth digit of the VIN is the check digit. The check digit is used to identify cases of VIN fraud, and is calculated through a complicated formula that I will not get into here (there are other sites to find this formula). For our purposes it is enough to know that the 9th digit, the check digit, can only be numbers 0-9, or X. 

There is a hitch among Koenigsegg VIN check digits, however.  It was discovered by Ferrari expert and VIN wizard Edvar van Daalen that for some reason Koenigsegg was not calculating these check digits correctly until chassis #067!  Before then the check digits are one to two values off from what one would expect them to be.

The Fun Stuff

This leaves digits 4-8, which are used by the manufacturers to identify the specific vehicle and how it is equipped, as specified by certain rules.  These characters will vary by manufacturer, although it should be noted that most major U.S. manufacturers use digit 8 to identify the engine. Beginning Model Year 2010, the NHTSA has required that the type and position of all passenger safety restraint devices also be described in the VIN, in addition to information such as body type and engine type.  Furthermore it is specified that passenger car VINs for years 2010-2039 must have a numeric digit in position 7.

In the U.S., regulations require that all manufacturers must submit VIN decoding information for all models sold in the U.S. to the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration. The following information comes from documents submitted by Koenigsegg to the NHTSA in 2008, as found on the NHTSA website.

Koenigsegg stated they were using the following VIN positions and characters to define their cars:

Digit 4, Car Line/Variant:
C = CC
E = CCX Edition
G = CCXR Edition
S = 4 Door Coupe

Digit 5, Engine:
A = 2101-001 (CC8S)
B = 2103-001 (CCR)

Digit 6, Chassis:
1 = EU LHD
2 = EU RHD
3 = US LHD
8 = Other LHD
9 = Other RHD

Digit 7, Certificaion:
1 = EU WVTA Small Series
3 = US
4 = Canada
5 = Australia
6 = South Africa
9 = Other

Digit 8, Restraint System:
A = 3 point belts, driver airbag
B = 3 point belts, driver and passenger airbags
J = 4 point belts, driver airbag
K = 4 point belts, driver and passenger airbags

Careful examination of this format versus the Koenigsegg VINs that we have found will lead one to the quick conclusion that Koenigsegg is not necessarily adhering to this format exactly in all cases. For example, according to the format, a U.S. spec CCX should have a VIN structure of YT9XD33B, when in fact all of the U.S. spec CCX's found thus far have the structure YT9XH33B. Even more strange is the fact that the letter H is not found anywhere in Koenigsegg's official VIN decoding document, for any position. Further, both U.S. spec Edition cars have the structure YT9ED33B, when it is indicated that the CCX Edition and CCXR Edition cars should be identified differently. Other such inconsistencies can be found for Australian market cars.

I find it also interesting to see the engine digits of A and B identified to the NHTSA; neither the CC8S nor CCR were ever certified for U.S. sale. Also, note the S in the Car Line section; is this the stillborn Quant? From this document, it is nice to finally know the meaning of digit 8, although I should point out that so far we have only seen A and B in use in this position.

As noted, the format outlined above does not hold in every case. What we can take from this document is the meaning of each digit; from there we can make certain conclusions about a particular car (such as which market it was originally built for). 

We have not yet found any official VIN decoding information regarding the Agera series. Early Ageras were using YT9HE for regular Ageras and YT9JF for Agera R's.  We have found a couple more VINs since the debut of the "2013" Agera series, which are showing different formats from the early Agera series cars.  At this time unfortunately the sample size of Agera VINs is too small to decipher the significance of these VINs.  Hopefully in due time we will; that's the fun of VIN hunting!

CC8s and CCR Series VIN structure

For the early Koenigseggs, the VIN structure is much different.  

There are some cases among other auto brands where non-North American-market VINs do not adhere to the SAE format, for example with many EU-market Ferraris and all Pagani Zondas.  It appears that this is the case with early Koenigseggs as well.  All of the early Koenigsegg VINs we have found so far have digits 4-9 of M1G0V8.  This means that Koenigsegg was not supplying their early VINs with a SAE-formatted ninth check digit.  Again this is not that unusual and has precedent in many other EU-market cars. 

However, Koenigsegg's early VINs do not adhere to SAE standard in the application of their 10th and 11th digits either.  Looking at some of these VINs will show that the 10th digits (which typically indicate Model Year) could not possibly be correct to standard, given what we know about Koenigsegg's production timeframe.  Furthermore, the 11th digits of these early VINs do not carry A to indicate the production plant of Angelholm (where the majority of these cars were built), and in fact show quite a bit of variance.

At this time we do not know the significance of these early VINs' digits 4-9, although reasonable guesses would be that in some way they represent the type of car and engine.  However, since digits 4-9 are the same for all the early VINs they don't hold nearly the mystery that digits 10 and 11 do.  For many years I had speculated that digit 11 was being used to indicate Model Year (or production year), as that pattern seemed to hold true for about when the (at the time) known cars had been built.  But I could not make any sense of the wildly varying 10th digits and what they could represent.

However, one of our top researchers J_C may have finally cracked the code.  He believes that the 10th and 11th digits are represented in a progressive alphanumeric code to indicate Production Month and Year.  In other words, for digit 10 a character of A would indicate January, on through L for December.  Digit 11 then would indicate the year as a number, just as I had previously suspected. 

Using this theory, we can decode the production date of CC8S #001 to be March of 2001.  Keeping in mind that cars are not necessarily always built in chassis number order, if you look down the list of these early VINs that we have identified, you will see a fairly regular progression of these 10th and 11th digits down the production sequence.

It also explains how we see certain Koenigsegg cars (#009 and #021) with the letter "I" in the 10th digits of their VINs (typically "I" is not allowed for use in VINs); Koenigsegg was using "I" to represent September.  Furthermore, using this alphanumeric system and looking at the list of early VINs we have thus far identified, you will notice that we have not yet found any VINs that would reprensent a 2003 build.  In fact there are only two "open" spots we would expect a 2003 build to fall - #012 and #013.  Koenigsegg are apparently a superstitious lot and did not build car #013, and the VIN car #012 (the CCGT) has not yet been found.  Given that the FIA rules for which the CCGT was built, we can surmise that it has a full VIN as required.  It's anyone's guess when the CCGT was built but it's probable that no cars began production during 2003 at all. 

It's no coincidence then that 2003 was the year Koenigsegg's factory burned down.

J_C's theory sheds a lot of light on Koenigsegg history and production.  There are still some questions to answer, such as, at what point in the build is the VIN assigned?  But the Month-Year theory (J_C calls them "MM digits") is a great development, and while we don't have confirmation on it yet personally I think he's right.

I hope you have found the above information interesting and informative. We can gain a lot more information with more verifiable VINs. If you are spotting for us, make sure to get a clear photograph of the VIN plate of any cars you come across; this is the most accurate and provable evidence. At the very least, write down the VIN. Thanks everybody!

This section was last modified on October 27, 2013, and will be updated as new information becomes available.

Appendix A

First digit of VIN, Country of Origin:
1 – United States of America
2 – Canada
3 – Mexico, Costa Rica
4 – United States of America
5 – United States of America
6 – Australia
7 – New Zealand
8 – Argentina, Chile, Ecuador, Peru, Venezuela
9 – Brazil, Colombia, Paraguay, Uruguay, Trinidad and Tobago
A – South Africa, Ivory Coast
B – Angola, Kenya, Tanzania
C – Benin, Malagasy, Tunisia
D – Egypt, Morocco, Zambia
E – Ethiopia, Mozambique
F – Ghana, Nigeria, Madagascar
J – Japan
K – Sri Lanka, Israel, South Korea
L – China
M – India, Indonesia, Thailand
N – Pakistan, Turkey
P – Philippines, Singapore, Malaysia
R – United Arab Emirates, Taiwan, Vietnam
S – Great Britain, Germany, Poland
T – Switzerland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Portugal
U – Denmark, Ireland, Romania, Slovakia
V – Austria, France, Spain, Yugoslavia, Croatia, Estonia
W – Germany
X – Bulgaria, Greece, Netherlands, Russia, Luxembourg
Y – Belgium, Finland, Malta, Sweden, Norway, Belarus, Ukraine
Z – Italy, Slovenia, Lithuania

Appendix B

Tenth Digit of VIN, Model Year, 1981 and Newer

B – 1981 1 – 2001 M – 2021
C – 1982 2 – 2002 N – 2022
D – 1983 3 – 2003 P – 2023
E – 1984 4 – 2004 R – 2024
F – 1985 5 – 2005 S – 2025
G – 1986 6 – 2006 T – 2026
H – 1987 7 – 2007 V – 2027
J – 1988 8 – 2008 W – 2028
K – 1989 9 – 2009 X – 2029
L – 1990 A – 2010 Y – 2030
M – 1991 B – 2011 1 – 2031
N – 1992 C – 2012 2 – 2032
P – 1993 D – 2013 3 – 2033
R – 1994 E – 2014 4 – 2034
S – 1995 F – 2015 5 – 2035
T – 1996 G – 2016 6 – 2036
V – 1997 H – 2017 7 – 2037
W – 1998 J – 2018 8 – 2038
X – 1999 K – 2019 9 – 2039
Y – 2000 L – 2020