Body & Engine Numbers

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Making sense of body & engine numbers:


Three types of body numbers:

There are three different types of body numbers used on the America.

  • Chassis Number (VIN):  Coding that specifically identifies the car and is used for licensing and registration. VIN=Vehicle Identification Number, which is the term used here in the USA.
  • Commission Number:  Coding that specifically identifies the car for BLMC internal purposes.  Also used for ordering replacement parts.
  • Body Shell Number:  Coding that specifially identifies the car's body shell for BLMC internal purposes.

Chassis Number (VIN) locations:

The Americas have up to 3 VIN locations: 

  • On 1970 and 1971 cars, a date stamp along with a chassis number (VIN) on a metal plate attached to the "B" pillar of the driver's door jamb. (The "B" pillar is the pillar in the middle of the car that the door closes against.) Included in the VIN is the production number and a location code which designates the factory where the car was built. All Americas were built in the Morris factory at Cowley Oxford, in England.
"B" Pillar VIN plate
Found in the driver's door opening of '70 &'71 models.
  • On all year models, there is a metal tag on the inside of the left "A" pillar, which contains just the chassis number (VIN). 
"A" Pillar VIN stamp on all cars

Located on the left (driver's side) lower corner of windshield

  • A metal tag is located on the front cross support member on the battery side.  (Sometimes called the "Slam panel" because it houses the hood latch.)  It is black and silver, and held in place with 2 screws.

Engine compartment VIN plate
Attached to the right side of the "slam panel."

Determine the year of your America:

As a rough guide, if your VIN starts with:

"A/A 2SU" . . . . .  you have a '68
"A/A 2SA-U" . . .  you have a '68
"A/A 2SD" . . . . .  you have a '69
"A/A 2SD-U" . . .  you have a '69
"A/A 2SD-UA" . . you have a '70
"A/A 2SD-UB" . . you have a '71

Reading the Chassis Number (VIN):

The VIN is a code which provides some specific information about the car.  A typical America VIN looks like this one from a car that was built in June of 1970:


First A = Austin
Second A = A-series engine
2S = 2 door sedan (saloon) body style
D = Deluxe trim
U = USA specification
A = 1970 model year ("B" = 1971model year)
10,039 = Production Number
M = Manufactured at the Morris plant in Cowley.

Chassis Number (VIN) Series:

A-A 2SAU - 101 M      thru    15267 M
A-A 2SD - 15268 M    
thru    37835 M
A-A 2SDU A - 104 M  
thru    13327 M *
A-A 2SDU B - 101 M  
thru      7616 M *

* Note the change in the VIN numbers begining with 1970 production year models.  Due to federal regulation changes, the VIN had to include a letter indicating that the vehicle was built to conform to USA specifications ie, the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. In 1970 this included side marker lights in amber for the front fenders and red for the rear fenders, along with rubber clad bumper over-riders front and rear. Also beginning in 1970, the VIN had to include a letter to indicate the year model.  Hence the addition of the "U" to indicate USA Spec. and the "A" to indicate 1970, the first year of the requirement.  In 1971, this final letter changed to a "B".  Subsequent BLMC vehicles sold in the USA market continued this pattern.  For example a 1974 MG Midget will have a "U" and an "E" to indicate USA Spec. and 1974.

Commission Number locations:

Commission Numbers are located on a metal plate, which is riveted onto the inner fender just above the battery on cars up to the 1970 year model.   From the 1970 year model onward, the plate was mounted on the front panel cross member right next to the VIN plate.  In this configuration, the 2 plates shared the same screw in between the two and the VIN plate overlapped the Commission Number plate.

The Commission Number plate looks similar to the VIN plate, except that it is red and natural aluminum. A second location for the Commission Number is on the top of the left rocker panel a few inches back from the lower door hinge.  In this location, the number is stamped directly into the body.

Engine compartment Commission Number plate
Located on the inner fender or the "slam panel"


Reading the Commission Number:

The Commission Number (CN) is also a code which provides some specific information about the car. A typical America CN looks like this one from a 1970 model:

AU  162S A - 10039  M

A = Austin
U = Possibly USA specification

16 = BMC Internal Reference Code meaning "ADO-16"
2S = 2 Door Sedan (Saloon) Body
A = 1970 year model  (B would indicate 1971 year model)

10039 = Production Number (began with car #104)

M = Morris Factory at Cowley

Commission Number series:

AU 162S - 101     thru  37835 = 1968 & '69 model year
AU 162S A - 104  thru  13237 = 1970 model year
AU 162S B - 101  thru    7616 = 1971 model year

Body Shell Number location:

Body shell numbers are located above the battery on a long narrow metal plate that is riveted to the inner fender.  On 1968/69 cars it was located next to the Commission Number plate.  The body shell number plates are painted over during the building of the actual body shell and are usually difficult to read.  Here is a photo of an actual Body Shell plate from an America built in late August 1970.  Although it is unknown when the body shell was actually built because they were stockpiled until needed.  Also, note what appears to be an inspection tag that is rivited next to the Body Shell plate:


Reading the Body Shell Numbers:

Body shell numbers contain a special series of numbers that were significant to BLMC's internal use only. When BLMC began producing Mk2, 2 Door body shells in 1968, the body shell number series was started with "18001" as the first body and counted up from that point. A typical America body shell number looks like this one from an America built in October of 1969:

2S 092072 P

Here is a second example from an America built in June of 1970:

2S 108715 P

2S = 2 Door Sedan (saloon) Body
108715 = Production Number of the body shell
P = BLMC Internal Reference Code (Possibly because the body shell was built by "Pressed Steel Fisher" who made the shells in Cowley Oxford. 

Pressed Steel Fisher placard

Located on bulkhead under rear parcel shelf upholstery panel
Special thanks to the contributors:
I could  not have created this page without the huge contributions of time and knowledge from the following long standing British car enthusiasts!  Thank you again gentlemen!
  • Declan Berridge in London, England - for taking the time to research his vast archives and type the large amount of information into several emails.
  • Chuck Heleker in Washington State, USA - for taking the time to not only research my numerous questions for engine code information and send me emails with the answers, but he also loaned me his very rare BMC 1100/1300 factory micro-fiche.
  • Peter Williams in Wick, Vale of Glamorgan, Wales, England-for taking the time the answer my my sometimes endless questions about the origins of these cars.


Austin America Engines:

All Americas came with a 1275cc A-series engine.  The engine code is reverse stamed into a metal plate that is riveted to a boss on the top of the engine block, just below and to the right of the #1 sparkplug.  The engine codes used in the America engines are somewhat different than those used for other BMC or BL models of the time and are written as follows:

12H291B - H1234

Engine Number stamp

Located on flange below #1 sparkplug

First & Third prefix group coding:

The first prefix group:
= 1275cc
H = Transverse mounted

The third prefix goup:
1234 = The engine's production number.  All engine production number groups began with engine number "101" as the number of the first power unit produced in the series.  The production numbers counted up from there.  The production numbers are always the last numbers listed.

Second prefix group coding:
The second set of prefix numbers and letters represent the items attached to the engine and what the compression ratio was.  These are the codes used for the America engines.


157 = Ra + Ub + Ud + Ta
185 = Ra + Ub + Ud + A
291 = Ra + Ub + Ta
292 = Ra + Ub + A
393 = Ra + Bf + Ta
394 = Ra + Bf + A
452 = Ra + Bf + Ug

Ra = Exhaust Emission Control (Air Pump)
Ub = Lucas C40 Generator (Dynamo)
Ud = Crankcase ventilation
Bf = Lucas 16AC Alternator with negative ground
A = Automatic transmission
Ta = Standard ratio remote control all synchro gearbox

B = Positive Crankcase ventilation
E = Carburetor Crankcase ventilation

M = Carburetor Crankcase ventilation with evaporative loss control

H = High compression ratio (which is actually a standard 8.8:1 compression ratio, but there was a "Low" compression 8.1:1 engine available in Europe.)

-1969 America - pos. ground & 4spd. manual trans.

12H157 - H6570

157 = Lucas C40 generator (dynamo), crankcase ventilation, exhaust emission control, standard ratio remote-control gearbox with 4-syncro transmission.

-1970 America - neg. ground & 4spd. manual trans.

12H393E - H6233

393 = Exhaust emission control, Lucas Alternator with integral voltage regulator, carburetor crankcase ventilation, standard ratio remote-control gearbox with 4-syncro transmission.
E = Carburetor Crankcase Ventilation.

-1970 America - neg. ground & automatic trans.

12H394E - H1163

This would be the same engine as above, except mounted to an automatic transmission.

Let me know if you have any VIN or engine number information to share.