Saturday, 8 October 2011

Mini Blog: How to Research the History of your VW

A customer asked me earlier this week how he should go about finding out the birth date of his early Baywindow Campervan, and how he could find out the original colour code. It struck me that many VW owners may be wondering the same thing, so I decided to share my reply with you all in this mini blog.
Firstly, if you are unsure when your VW was built, you can apply for it’s birth certificate directly from Volkswagen.
This is not only interesting to have, but on occassions it can also add to the value of your VW if it turns out to be a slightly earlier model than suggested by the registration number. This could be particularly important if your VW is on a 1973 plate, as if you can prove that it was ‘born’ before the end of 1972, then it should qualify for Historic Vehicle status with the DVLA and therefore be road tax exempt. It may also be of interest if you have a very early VW, or are close to a change over year, for example, the early bay in question here is on a ’68 plate, but if it turns out to have been built in 1967 then that would make it one of the very first Baywindow T2s ever made, and thus more rare and desirable.
You can apply for a birth certificate by writing to the Wolfsburg Museum and sending them a cheque or your credit card details,
AutoMuseum Volkswagen
Dieselstrasse 35
D - 38446 Wolfsburg
Or alternatively, follow this link and fill in the request form on their website:
The birth certificates cost €50 and take around 6-weeks to arrive.

The owner of the '68 Bay has now sent off for the birth certificate, so we will look forward to finding out when it's actual birthday is.
Alternatively, if you have a VW Transporter but you don't have a spare €50, you can find out much of the information contained in the birth certificate from your vehicle M-Plate. This is a small metal plate, usually located on the cab side of the front bulkhead, behind the right hand seat.
Analyse the M-Plate of your VW.
The M-Plate is a vehicle ID plate that was placed in VW Transporters from October 1958 onwards. This plate can tell you the exact date of manufacture of your vehicle, factory options, export destination, paint and upholstery colours, the model number and interior layout.
At first glance, the information on the M-Plate seems pretty meaningless, just a bunch of numbers and letters, but don’t worry, there are several sites on the internet that will help you decode them. provides a good overview of how the M-Plate works:
But even better, this site: does all the hard work for you; just enter the details from your M-Plate into the decoder at the top of the page and hit the decode button.
Having just tested it on a 1972 Westfalia that we are currently restoring, I am pleased to report that it worked perfectly, and having just stripped the van down to bare metal, I definitely can vouch for the original colour being correct!

Here is a photo of the M-plate (which has unfortunately been painted over!)

Here is the information as I entered it into the decoder:

And here are the results:

Alternatively, if you prefer to do all the hard work yourself, and maybe become a master of m-code reading, there are some excellent reference books on the market that can help you. I like these two:
VW Transporter and Microbus - Specification Guide 1950-1967 by David Eccles

And for Baywindow owners:

VW Transporter and Microbus - Specification Guide 1967-1979 by Alexander Prinz 

And although VW Beetles are not coded in the same way, there is also an excellent book in the same series for VW Beetle owners:

VW Beetle Specification Guide 1968-1980 by Richard Coping

I hope you find this information useful.......Happy Decoding!!!


  1. Very interesting - thanks for that. I will definitely be applying to Volkswagen for Betsy's birth Certificate.

  2. Great article! Thanks for the links.