Page 1 of 1

model year / VIN at 'facelift' ?

Posted: Thu Nov 11, 2021 2:36 am
by MoBrighta
Hello all,

I need some help figuring out when BMW changed the design of the back lights on E21 models... I believe the change-over date is Sept 1979, but I am looking for the VIN number marking the last car made with four light sockets, and the first made with five light sockets. Online parts sources show a 9/79 and later date of manufacture having different rear lights. BUT the site does not indicate where in the VIN numbering this change happened.
If someone knows (or knows where to find) a VIN that is the last car with the early lights, I will be MOST grateful!

Early lights have five sectors, with the center one reserved for the harness connector, and only FOUR bulbs.
Later lights have five sectors also, with the center one a large 'rear marker' or running (US: 'tail light') light, and sockets for FIVE bulbs.

I have some of each light version, which I am restoring, in the shop -- and adding upgrades for larger, brighter, more reliable tail and brake lights.
This is of course to increase visibility and reduce the chances for crunching noises from some idiot's front bumper... and ALWAYS done with safety first, and a 'Do No Harm' approach (my Auto-Hippo-Cratic oath). I have done this upgrading and restoration for years now, from E3 to E28 cars. I don't want this E21 model to be left out in the cold, so that's why I ask.

Once I get these lights done, I will post some pictures, and see if anyone wants rear lighting improvements for greater safety on the road.



Re: model year / VIN at 'facelift' ?

Posted: Thu Nov 11, 2021 8:37 am
by Manitoba
Can’t help you on your VIN question but I think it’s a good idea thinking of better visibility for the old ladies. Looking forward to your ideas and pictures. Good luck!


Re: model year / VIN at 'facelift' ?

Posted: Thu Nov 11, 2021 10:28 am
by Jeroen

Re: model year / VIN at 'facelift' ?

Posted: Thu Nov 11, 2021 10:51 am
by nic65
I think it's difficult to find the exact number Vin, maybe we can get closer if we do a census of ours if needed, mine is February 80,is it useful? 7020935

Re: model year / VIN at 'facelift' ?

Posted: Thu Nov 11, 2021 11:14 am
by Jeroen
But what would be the added value? Sofar I have not seen that BMW worked that precisely so they could draw a line at a certain chassis number, first occasions I have seen that to be possible was with the E30. Lots of facelift changes have come in effect a few months earlier up to even a year later.

Re: model year / VIN at 'facelift' ?

Posted: Thu Nov 11, 2021 11:57 am
by nic65
I believe that even writing the Vin on ETK and looking at the set-up you can get to the truth ... but what is the use?

Re: model year / VIN at 'facelift' ?

Posted: Thu Nov 11, 2021 7:27 pm
by MoBrighta
nic65: "... mine is February 80,is it useful? 7020935"
-Thanks, nic- I'll start my spreadsheet with yours.

Jeroen: " ... what would be the added value?"
nic65: " ... what is the use?"
-Jeroen, nic- to learn how to tell 'early' or 'late' from DOM (month/year) and VIN, so I can speak more intelligently when contacted. Sometimes folks want to swap lights, some will send theirs in for the work. This will help me pick the correct version. A picture of their lights will also serve, that is best.

This raises the question - are these lights interchangeable (backwards compatible)? I will do some measuring of the lights I have, see if I can tell that way. Feedback and direct knowledge is invited.

Glad to see there is some interest in this!

Thanks, Bedankt, Vielen Dank, Tack, Kiitos, Gracias, Merci beau coups!