Whether it is simple curiosity or your quest for replacement engine parts that has drawn questions about which VW engine you have, here is all the information to solve the riddle of the aircooled VW engine number fitted to your car, camper or bus.
Where can I find my Type 1 aircooled VW engine number?
Finding your aircooled VW engine number is quite straight forward. But you should be aware of a few different varieties of aircooled VW engine. On ‘Type 1’ engines (upright fan housing) this can be found stamped, or on a riveted plate just below the alternator / dynamo stand facing the rear of the vehicle. Once again, this should match your registration documents, but with aircooled VW engines being so easily swapped over, this isn’t always the case.
Finding your VW Type 4 engine number
For owners of vehicles fitted with the ‘Type 4’ engine the number can be found just in front of the distributor, on the fan shroud and also behind the fan shroud on the engine case too. We suggest checking both to ensure they match and take the number from the case as the best guide to what it might be, if not.
How do I know if I have a 1641cc engine?
One of the beautiful things with the aircooled VW engine is its simplicity and the fact that the capacity (and in turn power) can be increased by fitting bigger barrels and pistons. 1641cc is the first step up for most engine builders and 1641cc top-end rebuild kits are available for owners to do this conversion themselves. Engine capacity on a Type 1 motor can be increased to more than 2000cc although more complicated machining is required for above 1776cc. Generally speaking, if this has been done as a DIY job, the engine number will remain as per the original case, and won’t indicate any performance upgrades. The fitment of twin carburettors and an external oil cooler kit or filter may point to the engine being a little more sporty than standard.
What does my Type 1 aircooled engine number mean?
There are a lot of different codes for VW engine numbers. We’ll try and cover the majority here. In short if your engine number starts with a letter, it was produced after 1965. If your engine only has numbers, then it is likely to a be a Type 1 1200cc, unless the dynamo stand is integral to the engine case, in which case it could be a ’25hp’ or ’30hp’ version as fitted to cars and busses up until 1960.
A = 1200 30bhp | D = 1200 34bhp | E = 1300 37bhp | F = 1300 40bhp | H = 1500 44bhp | L = 1500 40bhp | AB = 1300 44bhp | AC = 1300 40bhp | AD = 1600 50bhp | AE = 1600 48bhp (US) | AF = 1600 46bhp | AG = 1600 44bhp (Type 181) | AH = 1600 48bhp (US) | AJ = 1600 50bhp (fuel injection) | AK = 1600 48bhp (US) | AL = 1600 48bhp (Type 181) | AM = 1600 48bhp (Type 181, US) | AR = 1300 44bhp | AS = 1600 50bhp
What about Type 3 engine numbers?
Whilst a lot less common (unless you own a Type 3) due to their ‘flat suitcase’ design you could find yourself the proud owner of an aircooled VW with a Type 3 engine bolted in the back (which may have been converted to run an upright fan housing). Here are the codes to keep an eye out for.
O = 1500 | KO = 1500 54bhp | MO = 1500 52bhp | PO = 1600 50bhp | TO = 1600 | UO = 1600 (fuel injection) | U5 = 1600cc (US) | X = 1600 (US)
Decoding my Type 4 engine number
Volkswagen’s Type 4 engine was introduced in 1969 with the 411 and originally came in 1700cc format. Later this was revised to 1800cc and then 2000cc. From 1972 the Type 4 engines was fitted as standard to all Type 2s in the USA and offered as an option in the UK alongside the trusty 1600cc engine.
V = 1700 68bhp | Z = 1700 6bhp | W = 1700 80bhp | CB = 1700 | CD = 1700 | EA = 1700 | EB = 1700 (fuel injection) | EC = 1800 | AN = 1800 | AT = 1800 | AW = 1800 | AP = 1800 | ED = 1800 | GD = 2000 | CJ = 2000 | GE = 2000 | CU = 2000 | CV = 2000
We hope that this article has helped you to answer your aircooled engine number questions. We are aware that many engineers have rebuilt these engines over the years, so it is still possible you have an aircooled VW engine code that we haven’t touched on above. By all means please comment below and we’ll do our best to try and help.