Bill McGrath Maserati
Cracking the Code

A Guide to Biturbo
Chassis Numbers

Special thanks to Andy Heywood of Bill McGrath Limited for his permission to reproduce this article that first appeared in the Nov/Dec issue of the Maserati Club Newsletter, of which he is the Editor, and a fine job he does of it! My thanks extend to Richard Jordan, Parts Manager at Maserati UK, who assisted Andy in the compilation of this feature.

When the time comes for trainspotting (and it afflicts us all at one time or another), Maserati chassis numbers can be a constant source of excitement and perplexion. Not only the racing cars (most of us are still trying to work out the 250F sequence!) but also the classic road cars. However when one applies the same logic to Biturbos it would seem that all is lost. Don't panic, they do make sense and this is how.

Lift your bonnet and you will see a chassis plate either on the bulkhead or on the bonnet slam panel. The longest sequence of digits is the actual chassis number and for instance will read:

* ZAM 333 B00 * JA 190149 *

The first series of digits ZAM is the new version of the old AM which meant ALFIERI MASERATI. All road vehicles manufactured since 1977 possess a unique Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). The VIN comprises 17 characters: the first 3 (or in some cases 6 letters) denote the World Manufacturers Identifier (WMI) i.e. the company which built the vehicle, and the remaining characters are specific to each vehicle manufactured (make, model, year and place of manufacture etc.).

In Italy codes start with the letter Z  and here are some examples:

WMIManufacturer WMIManufacturer
ZAMMaserati ZARAlfa Romeo
ZARFiat ZA9 A12Lamborghini
ZBBBertone ZC2Maserati/Chrysler
ZDMDucati ZFAAlfa Romeo
ZFAFiat ZFFFerrari
ZGUMoto Guzzi ZHUHusqvarna

The second series of digits denotes model type as follows:

331 2 door coupe
332 425/430
333 Spyder 2.5/2.8
333 OPAC Spyder
334 228
336 Ghibli
337 Quattroporte IV
338 3200 GT
339 Karif
339 Shamal

The B00 stands for BITURBO and is also common to all types for obvious reasons.

The next letter J shows the year of manufacture:

C 1982
D 1983
E 1984
F 1985
G 1986
H 1987
J 1988
K 1989
L 1990
M 1991
N 1992
P 1993
R 1994

The next letter A or B shows the place of manufacture:

A Made in Modena
B Made in Milan

From this we can see that our * example is a 1988 2.5 Spyder built in Modena (as the Karif and 2.8 were not yet released, and hopefully you would be able to tell the difference anyway on viewing the rest of the car!!!). This information can be useful when buying a car or registering it as in the UK market, the cars were sometimes slow to sell when new and therefore a considerable amount of time could have passed between building and registering.

To put things into perspective, I once saw a pair of 228s together, one registered on a G (i.e. 1989/90) and the other on a K (i.e. 1992/3).

I feel that I ought to point out to overseas browsers that here in England we can identify the car's year of registration by the prefix on the vehicle's registration number.

The two cars were for sale and the asking price for the for the K plate was considerably higher. However, by comparing the chassis numbers, it turned out that the G plate car was actually the newer car! I have also seen a a K plate 425 which would appear to have been a 1992/3 car, however the 425 was not produced past 1988 and by looking at the chassis number, it was established that the car was actually four years older than the registration suggested.

But what happened after 1994, I hear you ask? Unfortunately, for reasons best known to Maserati themselves, they just labelled all the cars '00' so to my knowledge, there is no way of determining age. A case of history repeating itself.


"Dear Enrico,

A small extra info for your site on the page cracking the VIN code for the Biturbo range.

My - Shamal- Opac Spider has the following VIN code ZAM333B00--NB102291.

This means that it is a Spyder (and it is) so on your page you can between the spyder2.5/2.8 and Karif add the Opac Spyder.

Greetings Jan Piet."


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