All about the VIN

Any Registry is all about the VIN, this is the car's pedigree and Manufacturers go to great lengths to identify their products by the VIN using an industry standard. There are a few differences between VIN systems used in Japan, Australia and North American


The FMVSS (Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard) VIN format is used in North America, whereas the Australian VIN format is the ISO (International Standards Organisation) format.  Both formats consist of 17 digits but the allocation of digits is different, of course the JDM - Japanese Domestic Market - vehicles use a totally different non 17 digit format.


Some owners are very protective of their VIN even though it is prominently displayed through the windshield and other locations. I'm aware of at least one Owner who went to the trouble of taping over it (which is illegal by the way) so as not to share sighting privacy and vehicle safety concerns.


Keeping it to yourself may seem secure but in fact, just the opposite is true.


The serial number or VIN that each car carries does more than identify that particular car and when it came down the assembly line. When coupled with the known owner's name and location it serves as a form of insurance. If a registry of VINs is kept up to date it becomes virtually impossible for these cars to be stolen and resold because the registry lists the current owner. Professional car thieves realize this and car clubs that utilize registries experience very little thefts reported.

So the VINs breakdown as follows:

VIN Breakdown 3.JPG

As you can see in the chart above the most critical digit of the VIN is the eighth as this is a unique MSM "identifier", only North American MSMs have the number 4 in this position. In Australia it is the fifth position which identifies the Series number 4.

Note: Although all turbo NBs are 4 Series NBs not all Series 4 NBs are turbos.




VIN locations on the North American MSM  (Click on flag to go to Australian VIN locations) 

Front drivers side on dash under windshield (plate)


Door jamb next to strike plate on driver's side (sticker)

Fire wall (1/4" tall stamped letters on welded plate)

On the base of the engine oil pan.

engine vin.jpg

On the tail shaft of the transmission 

VIN location transmission (9)_LI.jpg

The USA MSMs also have small VIN stickers in the following locations:

  • Next to door latch on both sides (Driver's side only)

  • Underside of hood (sticker)

  • Front fender in water run-off gully on both sides (sticker) 

  • Inside front bumper, passenger side, just under turn signal (sticker)

  • Underside of trunk (sticker)

  • Inside rear drivers side fender just in front of bumper under gas fill hose (sticker)

Unlike its American siblings Canadian MSMs do NOT have these VIN stickers at all.

IMAG0244 std Miata example only.jpg

All new vehicles imported into Australia are fitted with a Manufacturers build plate or label, but must also be fitted with an additional ‘Compliance plate’ which confirms that the vehicle complies with Australian Design Rules (ADR’s) and is therefore eligible for Australian registration. 


On the Australian delivery MX-5s, both the Manufacturers plate, and the compliance plate are fitted on the driver’s side – RHD vehicles – of the firewall/plenum chamber and are aluminum plates attached with rivets. Also on this same panel and further towards the centre of the vehicle is the stamped in VIN (same as US delivery vehicles). Australian delivery vehicles do not have a VIN plate on the engine or the gearbox or any of the component labelling as in North America.


Australian delivery vehicles – unless they use the FMVSS VIN system – do not have the VIN in the windscreen. 


The  Australian MX-5 SE has three VIN locations.

On the back  firewall 1/4" tall stamped letters same as North American models

There are two ID plates riveted to driver's side firewall 

 1) The VIN plate which identifies VIN, Build Month and exterior Colour code

404589 (3).JPG

 2) The Compliance Registration plate indicating VIN and date vehicle was initially registered to be sold in the country

404589 (2).JPG