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How to Look Up the VIN Number for a Motorcycle From the '70s

Updated April 17, 2017

Locating and obtaining the vehicle identification number (VIN) on a motorcycle from the 1970s can provide a potential buyer with a wealth of information. A VIN is assigned today to every vehicle produced so the Department of Transportation can obtain ownership information and prevent fraudulent titles. The VIN before 1981 did not provide ownership information and previous accidents, but was coded to identify information such as the make, model, year and engine.

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  1. Look for an 11 to 17 sequence of characters stamped on a tag on the motorcycle frame. Typically, the tag is on the right side of the frame close to the steering stem. This is the motorcycle's VIN.

  2. Write down the sequence of numbers and characters for decoding the motorcycle's personal information.

  3. Contact the manufacturer of the 1970s motorcycle and provide the VIN number for decoding or if the VIN is 17 characters, input the VIN on Motoverse.com for decoding. The website will translate the character sequence as long as the VIN is 17 characters.

  4. Tip

    Before 1981, no universal coding standard existed. For example, a number or character used on a 2005 BMW motorcycle may not have the same assembly code as a 1978 BMW motorcycle built in the same assembly plant.

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About the Author

Julie Duncan

Julie Duncan has worked in the legal profession for over 15 years as a paralegal, owner of a court reporting business and now a law graduate. She was also recognized for her research and writing by the South Carolina Political Science Association in 2006.

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