Andrew Turnbull presents

The History of School Transportation in Mercer County, WV


Technical Information: Deciphering VINs

International

school bus

1966-early 1973

416370H951287

Positions 1-4: Model

Technically this was part of a "specification code," which was an complex identifier I've yet to find a good reference source for. The leading digits, however, are fairly straightforward:

4163 Loadstar 1600

Note the "3" at the end. International Harvester had a decades-long tendency to use "3" in its model numbers to identify a chassis-cowl. Likewise, a Loadstar 1600 school bus chassis was technically a "1603;" though badged as 1600.

Positions 5-6: Unknown

The trailing portion of the "specification code," possibly pertaining to engine choice or other details. I've confirmed both "60" and "70" on school buses.

Position 7: Assembly plant

H Springfield, Ohio (US)

Position 8: Production year

International Harvester didn't technically have model years in this era, and the corporation often made production changes whenever they felt like it. Nevertheless, VINs of this era did contain a year character, albeit linked to the calendar date rather than model year.

6 1966
7 1967
8 1968
9 1969
0 1970
1 1971
2 1972
3 1973

Positions 9-13: Production sequence

The sequence appears to have (probably) reset at 00001 each year.

Scouts transitioned to a VIN format with a model year code in 1972; however, Loadstars persisted with the old system until early 1973.


1973-early 1981

At this point, International reluctantly adopted a model year system for medium-duty trucks.

13682CHA53416

Positions 1-4: Model

Note that the designations for the Loadstar changed partway through 1975.

1368 Loadstar 1600 (1973-75)
D081 Loadstar 1600 (1975-78)
D082 Loadstar 1700 (1975-78)
BA17 S1700 (1979-81)
BA18 S1800 (1979-81)

Position 5: Engine

2 Gasoline
5 Diesel

Position 6: Model year

Model years typically began in August of the preceding calendar year, with the exception of the 1974MY, which started late:

C 1973
D 1974
E 1975
F 1976
G 1977
H 1978
J 1979
K 1980
B 1981

Position 7: Assembly plant

C Chatham, Ontario (Canada)
H Springfield, Ohio (US)

Positions 8-13: Production line and sequence

Starting in 1973, International changed its serial numbering to incorporate a production line indicator: "A" or "B" for Springfield, and "A" for Chatham. Each sequence progressed in parallel, and reset at 10001 each model year.

Starting in 1974, the build date was added to the International warranty plate. Around the same time, the warranty plate began to be positioned in a visible underhood location on the curb side of the cowl...though since the plate is held in place with screws, it is sometimes missing.


1981-early 1984

Very early in the 1981 model year, International Harvester adopted the uniform 17-digit VIN format being imposed throughout the industry. Additional characters were added, but the format initially changed little otherwise.

1HVBA1851BHB12965

Positions 1-3 and 11: Manufacturer and assembly plant

International's Chatham plant discontinued bus chassis production after 1982.

1HV-H International, Springfield, Ohio (US)
2HV-C International, Chatham, Ontario (Canada)

Positions 4-7: Model

BA17 S1700 (1981-84)
BA18 S1800 (1981-84)
EA18 S1800 Forward control

Position 8: Engine and brake system

A little more information than before, though still non-specific about engines:

2 Gasoline Air
5 Diesel
B Gasoline Hydraulic
E Diesel

Position 9: Checksum

0-9 or X, calculated from the other digits.

Position 10: Model year

Model years generally began in August of the preceding calendar year:

B 1981
C 1982
D 1983
E 1984

Positions 12-17: Production line and sequence

Serials continued to use the "A" and "B" production line indicators, followed by numerics that reset at 10001 each model year.


1984-1989

At this point, the VIN format was changed to include information about gross vehicle weight ratings and specific engines.

1HVLNHGLXEHA50648

Positions 1-3 and 11: Manufacturer and assembly plant

1HV-H International, Springfield, Ohio (US)

Positions 4-5: Model

LM S1700 (1984-86) Gasoline
LN S1700 (1984-89) Diesel
LP S1800 (1984-89) Diesel

Positions 6-7: Engine

Some engines were denoted by multiple code designations, likely owing to minor year-to-year or model-to-model specification differences.

CE 5.9L I6 Diesel (DT360)
CF 5.9L I6 Diesel (DT360)
D4 5.7L V8 Gasoline
HG 6.9L V8 Diesel (IDI)
HX 9.0L V8 Diesel
HY 9.0L V8 Diesel
TV 7.6L I6 Diesel (DT466)
UX 7.6L I6 Diesel (DT466)
ZR 7.3L V8 Diesel (IDI)
ZW 5.9L I6 Diesel (DT360)
ZZ 7.6L I6 Diesel (DT466)

Position 8: Gross vehicle weight rating and brake system

K 19500 lb 8900 kg Hydraulic
L 26000 lb 11800 kg Air
M Hydraulic
N 33000 lb 15000 kg Air
P Hydraulic

Position 9: Checksum

0-9 or X, calculated from the other digits.

Position 10: Model year

Model years generally began in August of the preceding calendar year except for 1989, which both began and ended early:

E 1984
F 1985
G 1986
H 1987
J 1988
K 1989

Positions 12-17: Production line and sequence

Initially, serials continued to use the "A" production line indicator followed by numerics that reset at 10001 each model year. It appears the "B" line at Springfield ceased building bus chassis by 1984.

By February 1987, the line indicator was discontinued in favour of an all-numeric sequence starting at about 470001 and working forward. International also stopped resetting serials at the start of each model year, allowing serials to continue upward to 699999 in 1989. Because of discrepancies between planned and actual production order, there was a slight amount of numeric overlap from one model year to the next.

Partway through 1986, International Harvester Corporation became known as Navistar International Corporation. This change had no direct impact on the VIN format.


1990-2004

Navistar International introduced the new 3000-series chassis with the 1990 model year. The underlying VIN format did not change apart from the introduction of new code designations.

1HVBBCFN3LH236116

Positions 1-3 and 11: Manufacturer and assembly plant

A small number of 2003-04 chassis were produced at the IC Bus plant in Oklahoma, although the bulk of production remained in Ohio to the end.

1HV-H International, Springfield, Ohio (US)
4DR-B IC Bus, Tulsa, Oklahoma (US)

Positions 4-5: Model

BA 3700 (1990-94)
BB 3800 (1990-2004)
BC 3900 (1992) Forward control
BD 3600 (1992-98) Thomas Vista
BE 3400 (1996-2001) Full cab cutaway

Positions 6-7: Engine

Some engines were denoted by multiple code designations, likely owing to minor year-to-year or model-to-model specification differences. (Let's hope I didn't make any mistakes...)

AA 7.6L I6 Diesel (DT466)
AB 7.3L V8 Diesel (T444E)
AC 6.7L I6 Diesel (DT408)
CF 5.9L I6 Diesel (DT360)
ND 5.9L I6 Diesel (DT360)
NE 5.9L I6 Diesel (DT360)
NG 7.3L V8 Diesel (IDI)
NK 5.9L I6 Diesel (DT360)
NM 5.9L I6 Diesel (DT360)
NP 5.9L I6 Diesel (DT360)
NR 5.9L I6 Diesel (DT360)
NS 7.3L V8 Diesel (IDI)
NT 7.3L V8 Diesel (IDI)
NU 7.3L V8 Diesel (IDI)
PE 5.9L I6 Diesel (DT360)
PH 5.9L I6 Diesel (DT360)
PL 5.9L I6 Diesel (DT360)
PN 7.6L I6 Diesel (DT466)
PP 7.6L I6 Diesel (DT466)
TV 7.6L I6 Diesel (DT466)
Z7 7.6L I6 Diesel (DT466)
ZR 7.3L V8 Diesel (IDI)
ZW 5.9L I6 Diesel (DT360)
ZZ 7.6L I6 Diesel (DT466)

Position 8: Gross vehicle weight rating and brake system

K 19500 lb 8900 kg Hydraulic
L 26000 lb 11800 kg Air
M Hydraulic
N 33000 lb 15000 kg Air
P Hydraulic
R 55000 lb 25000 kg Air

Position 9: Checksum

0-9 or X, calculated from the other digits.

Position 10: Model year

International varied its model year schedule throughout the 1990s and early 2000s. Most model years began between May and July the year before; however, 1990 and 1995 production began extra-early in January or February. The 2003 and 2004 model years also started slightly early.

L 1990
M 1991
N 1992
P 1993
R 1994
S 1995
T 1996
V 1997
W 1998
X 1999
Y 2000
1 2001
2 2002
3 2003
4 2004

Positions 12-17: Production sequence

Very early 3000-series chassis had serials in the high 690000s, continuing the semi-perpetual numbering that had begun in 1987, before resetting to 200001 early in the 1990 model year. The 200001-699999 serial range was then used from 1990 to 1995, reused from 1995 to 1999, and run through a third time from 1999 to 2004. An unusually-large block of serials in the 400000s was skipped over in 2001.

Because of discrepancies between planned and actual production order, there was always a slight amount of numeric overlap from one model year to the next.

The chassis VIN label was located on the curb side of the cowl through 1995, and the driver's side of the cowl from late 1995 on.


Epilogue

After the 2004 discontinuation of the 3800 chassis, International chose to consolidate all future school bus chassis production at the IC Bus plants in Conway, Arkansas and Tulsa, Oklahoma. This included bare chassis intended for Blue Bird or other third-party body manufacturers. Newer International and IC VINs may be deciphered on the AmTran and IC page.



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