Australian Morris 850

Identification Plate

An identification plate was fitted to each Morris 850. The small aluminium plate was stamped with the details of the car when produced:

  • type
  • car number
  • engine number
  • colour

The plate is often referred to as an 'I.D. plate'.

BMC Identification Plate

BMC Australia identification plate.

Plate codes and numbers

Type

The ‘Type’ code represents the car model in code. For the Morris 850 Sedan, the code is YMA2S1.

1st Letter - Origin of Manufacture:      Y = Australia

2nd Letter - Make:                               M = Morris

3rd Letter - Engine Cubic Capacity:    A = 800 - 999cc

4th Letter/s - Body Type:                     2S = Two Door Saloon

5th Letter - Model Series:                    1 = 850

Car Number

Depending on the age of the car, a Morris 850 may have one or more numbers in the ‘Car No.’ field.

  • All cars were given a local Australian Car Number, beginning at 501.
  • An ‘English Chassis Number’ for Complete Knock Down (CKD) kits sourced from the UK precedes the car number on approximately the first 31,500 cars (or to car number 32,000; refer BMC Aust. 1959, Mini Car Club of NSW, 1999).
  • A single ‘9’ precedes both other numbers on the first ~2800 cars. This is a dating digit used by BMC to identify a specific period of production, with ‘9’ corresponding to the period 1/12/1960 to 30/11/1961 (BMC Aust. 1959). The use of dating digits was however discontinued before the end of the 1961 period (potentially in June; Sneddon, 2016, p215).

Engine Number

​The engine number is made up of both a prefix representing the engine specification in code and a unique serial number (8AM/U/H 123456 for example). The number should match that stamped on the engine block if the original engine is fitted (found on the main engine block below the number one spark plug).

​Originally engines were sourced from the UK with the prefix 8AM/U/H, however once the engines changed over to Australian numbered units, the prefix became 8Y/U/H.

​1st Group Cubic Capacity, Make, Type 8 = 848cc
AM = Austin/Morris (ex. UK), or
Y = Morris (Australian assembled)
2nd Letter Gearbox and Ancillaries U = Centre gear change gearbox
3rd Letter Compression H = High compression

The changeover from 8AM to 8Y engines occurred at approximately car 41886 (Sneddon, 2016, p55), however there appears to have been a changeover period when either engine could be fitted as old stocks were used up.

Engine Number

​The engine number is made up of both a prefix representing the engine specification in code and a unique serial number (8AM/U/H 123456 for example). The number should match that stamped on the engine block if the original engine is fitted (found on the main engine block below the number one spark plug).

​Originally engines were sourced from the UK with the prefix 8AM/U/H, however once the engines changed over to Australian numbered units, the prefix became 8Y/U/H.

1st Group - Cubic Capacity, Make, Type
8 = 848cc
AM = Austin/Morris (ex. UK), or
Y = Morris (Australian assembled)

2nd Letter - Gearbox and Ancillaries
U = Centre gear change gearbox

3rd Letter - Compression
H = High compression

The changeover from 8AM to 8Y engines occurred at approximately car 41886 (Sneddon, 2016, p55), however there appears to have been a changeover period when either engine could be fitted as old stocks were used up.

Colour

In addition to a paint colour name, the plate is stamped with a prefix and suffix. The prefix indicates the type of paint while the suffix is for the paint supplier. For the Morris 850, paint is typically enamel (1) supplied by Berger (3).

See Paint Colours for colours used on the Morris 850.

Plate location

Identification plates were fitted on the firewall in the engine bay, affixed with two pop rivets.

The plate was located on the passenger (left) side of the firewall ​for approximately the first 17,000 cars.

The plate was then positioned on the driver side of the firewall, above the brake and clutch master cylinders. Note that the plastic windscreen washer bottle was then relocated to the original plate position.

The later positioning of the identification plate continued on to other Mini models, including the Deluxe, Matic and Cooper S.

Passenger Side
Driver Side

Identification plate locations on the firewall - left (top) and right (bottom).

Plate stamping

The method used to stamp the identification plates changed throughout production, with stamping occurring from with the front or reverse side.

Front stamping

For approximately the first 19,000 cars (just after car number 19,500), the plates were stamped from the front by hand.

Front stamped identification plate

Identification plate stamped from front side.

Reverse stamping (except engine)

After the first 19,000 or so cars, machine reverse stamping of the plate was employed (except for the engine serial number which was still hand stamped from the front). Plates produced in this manner are notably more uniform then those produced by the former method.

Reverse stamped identification plate

Identification plate stamped from reverse side.

Other combinations

In some case plate stamping did not follow the above two standards.

Cars have been observed with plates entirely reverse stamped, including the engine serial number, while others are entirely front stamped despite being manufactured after the introduction of reverse stamping.

A logical explanation for the former is an error existed that needed correction on the plate at a later date, and so it was restamped (with the engine installed the serial number was known and could also be reversed stamped). For the latter, the machine used for stamping may have been out of service necessitating a return to hand stamping.

Stamping errors

Occasional errors, particularly spelling in the colour field, have been noted on some cars. It is also not uncommon for an incorrect stamp to have been used, such as an upside down W for M or an I for 1 in the type code (YMA2S1).

References

See References for details of resources used to compile this page.

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