Every vehicle has a unique identification number, modern cars have a 17-digit number that includes all kinds of information abut the vehicle while at the same time its unique to each vehicle. The VIN contains information about the country of origin, manufacture, engine, transmission, model year and a unique identifier for that vehicle.
VIN’s were first used in 1954, but prior to the VIN, cars were issued a not so unique engine number. Each manufacture created their own engine numbers and used that to identify that vehicle by the manufacturer and model. During this period there was no standard for VIN’s and even within the manufacturer there was no consistency.
In 1981 the US National Highway Safety Administration required all vehicles sold in the US to contain the standard 17-Character VIN system we use today.
It’s important to note that the current standard does not use the letters I, O or Q as these characters are easily confused with numbers.