A Holden car has either two or three distinct numbering systems depending on the time it was built. They are concerned with either the manufacturing or the assembly process. First and foremost is the Body Number. The second is the Vehicle Serial Number. Last (but by no means least) is the Production Serial Number introduced in 1962, and then morphed into the Vehicle Identification Number in 1968. These numbering systems are very different to one another and are of equal importance when trying to determine from where and exactly when a specific Holden came.
Body Number. This number is assigned in sequence to a Holden body and appears on the Body ID plate. The number is derived from the Master Schedule where each entry was given the next number – 1,2,3,4,5, and so on. Over time, this system was subject to several variations as additional models were added to the Holden range and new manufacturing plants came on line. Regardless of the numbering process, it is always continuous – increasing upwards in an unbroken sequence. This numbering method harks back to Holden’s Motor Body Builders practice of assigning each job lot with the next available number in an attempt to keep an accurate account of all production. It is this number from which the milestone Holdens are determined.
The 1,000,000th ‘Body by Holden’ was an FE Station Sedan (wagon). This body was the one millionth produced since Holden’s motor body manufacture started with the first vehicle body bearing #1 in 1917. The 1,000,000th Holden (an EJ Premier) is a completely different vehicle and for very good reason. Both feats are hugely significant milestones for GM-H.
Vehicle Serial Number. This number is assigned in sequence to a Holden after the body is placed on the line to be assembled into a complete car. This number is derived from the cumulative total of a particular model series built at a specific assembly plant. With assembly plants in all mainland Australian states, a Holden can feature a serial number from either of five locations – all of these having unique identifiers. The actual location and timing of this number allocation on the assembly line varies from plant to plant. Some were assigned at the start of the process, whilst others at another point later on.
Up to and including EH, this number started at 1001 at each plant. With the HD model series in 1965, the number started at 00001 at each plant, but in a break with tradition was stamped into the firewall of the bodyshell at the Body Assembly plant prior to the body entering a Vehicle Assembly plant. As a result, an additional stamping that identified the final assembly plant was also included.
The HQ series featured another variation on the Vehicle Serial Number. By now it was referred to as the Chassis Number and is stamped on the perimeter front ‘chassis’ of the car. The final assembly plant identifier was included following the serial number.
Production Serial Number. With the advent of computers, an additional identification number was introduced at the assembly plants. The purpose of this new system was to number each vehicle in sequence as it was produced. GM-H plants assembled all manner of General Motors’ vehicles during the time Holden models were in production. The Production Serial Number (PSN) is also known as the Plant Sequence Number, as that is exactly what it was.
Vehicle Identification Number. Commencing with the HK series and then including all GM products assembled from start of production 1968, the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) was an advancement on the previous system. The VIN incorporated the PSN as well as the vehicle body identifiers. As such, complete identification of a GM product was possible from this one number. Initially comprising 13 digits, a revised VIN was introduced from October 1972.
The revised VIN comprised 14 digits and now included a new model designation system along with an engine identification code as well as a model year code. A more detailed description of the vehicle was possible with this new VIN.
Over time, the PSN component of the VIN became the Body Number so that any given Holden only had two numbers – a Production Serial Number and a Vehicle Serial Number (Chassis Number).