N°Série M201 CHASSIS NUMBERS

 

ONE JEEP - TWO CHASSIS NUMBERS - EVEN APPARENT DUPLICATES!

There can be few vehicles with quite as many different numbers stamped on the chassis in various places as the Hotchkiss M201. Quite a bit of individual vehicle history is locked up in these numbers but they can also cause confusion so I have created this page by way of an explanation.

To start with each M201 actually has two 'chassis numbers'! An explanation for this is given in the French Army manual MAT 3541 'CATALOGUE DE PIECES DETACHEES' ¹

The first of these numbers is a true serial factory production number given to each jeep by Hotchkiss, the second is an inventory serial number given to jeeps owned by the army. Their locations are given in the following diagrams but be aware that they are sometimes lost under the layers of paint!

HOTCHKISS SERIAL CHASSIS NUMBER (e.g. 21968 in the diagram below)

The Hotchkiss serial chassis number is exactly that. It is a unique sequential factory number stamped on each M201 on the production line by Hotchkiss. This number places all M201s in the exact order that they were made and in theory the year that the jeep was actually made can be worked out using the table (right).

The table is based on factory production figures given in the book "Hotchkiss 1870 - 1970 petit dictionnaire du juste milieu" by Daniel Tard. There is a slight discrepancy between the factory total of 27614 and the army derived figure of 27,628 jeeps having been produced.

Hotchkiss Serial Nos.
  YEAR   First - Last  
  1956   00001 - 00882  
  1957   00883 - 04060  
  1958   04061 - 06653  
  1959   06654 - 09349  
  1960   09350 - 13075  
  1961   13076 - 17591  
  1962   17600 - 21961  
  1963   21962 - 25336  
  1964   25337 - 26927  
  1965   26928 - 27385  
  1966   27386 - 27614  

ARMY SERIAL CHASSIS NUMBER (e.g. 19990 in the diagram above)

Hotchkiss sold the vast majority of M201s to the army, some were sold to the air force and a few were sold to other government agencies. There is no evidence that any were sold to other countries (it was after all WW2 technology) though the French government did lend M201s to the armies of former colonies.

Unfortunately the French army decided not to use the Hotchkiss factory serial number when keeping records of their jeeps, instead they issued each jeep with an army serial number which was stamped on the top of the front chassis rail (19990 in the diagram above). It is this number that was used on all official documentation e.g the army log book or 'carnet' (left),  on the 'Certificat de vent' when the jeeps were sold at auction, and the number transferred to the civilian 'Carte Grise' in France or 'V5' in the U.K.

As the army serial numbers were not issued until after the jeeps had left the Hotchkiss production line they are not always in direct sequence with the Hotchkiss serial numbers. In a way this is a minor issue compared with the fact that the air force did not renumber the vehicles at all, instead they used the Hotchkiss serial number which, now that the M201s are in private hands has resulted in some genuine duplicate numbers on official documents. These are apparent in the database of over 6000 jeeps that I have been collating over the past twelve years but only occasionally come to light when owners attempt to register vehicles in the U.K.

Fortunately, there were never a large number of air force jeeps and with M201s ending up in private hands mainly across different European countries, the fact that apparent duplicates exist has rarely caused an issue. On the few occasions it has occurred,  one of the other numbers stamped on the jeep may have been used, the most common being the frame number.

HOTCHKISS FRAME NUMBER (e.g MV 11216 in the diagram below)

The frame number is stamped on the side of the front chassis rail as shown in the diagram. It is simply a unique identity given to the frame when it was made and as the frames were not used sequentially on the production line there is no direct  correlation between this number and the chassis number.

The frames of early M201s simply had a number. From about mid 1958 a new series began prefixed by the letter 'M' probably indicating that a revision to the frame design had been made. In 1960 a second new series prefixed 'MV' appeared that continued until production of M201s ceased.

The only other letter to appear in the prefix occasionally is an 'S' as in 'MS' or 'SM'. It is possible that these frames were strengthened as there is a link between these and the Sahara jeeps made at the factory which are Known to have had a strengthened frame. If you have a jeep with an 'S' in the frame number please do let me know as I need more examples to prove this theory.

HOTCHKISS BODY TUB NUMBER

Hotchkiss body tubs were given a unique serial number at the point of manufacture. When they were used to assemble jeeps on the production line they were used from stock in no particular order and did not match either the Hotchkiss jeep serial number or for that matter the army serial number. I have come across only one example of an early 6 volt un-rebuilt jeep where there is a match and that would have been by pure chance. Early tubs have a number, later tubs a number preceded by 'H'

  The database I have built up shows that from new the tub numbers and chassis numbers varied by a figure of anything up to several hundred indicating the amount of the stock of tubs held at the factory. The photo (from Ross Savage) shows one of the last tubs to be made by Hotchkiss. It was not used in production but held by the army as part of its replacement stock.

From time to time on jeep discussion forums I have read statements to the effect that 'if a Hotchkiss tub number and chassis number don't match up then the jeep must have been rebuilt'. This is a myth and simply not true as I have now explained! I am asked from time to time if I can provide the date of manufacture for a particular body tub. The answer is yes but an approximate year only.

ARMY REGISTRATION NUMBER

The custom of stamping the registration number on the rear chassis leg of new jeeps had been used for the Delahaye VLR and was continued with The Hotchkiss M201. This practice was not used on WW2 jeeps or ITM jeeps made from recycled WW2 parts. This number did of course also appear painted on the front bumper and on the rear registration plate.

On very early M201s it was stamped as indicated in the diagram with 50s registration number 088 234. Most examples of M201s have it in the slightly higher and further forward position as illustrated by the 60s style registration 221 4431. There are a few examples of M201s without this number being stamped here. I am not yet certain of the reason for this.

When jeeps were rebuilt they received a new registration number on reissue but this was not stamped anywhere on the frame.

 

EXAMPLES OF CHASSIS NUMBERS

Hotchkiss chassis
 number '3472'
Army  chassis
number 02745
Rare example  - number
stamped on wrong side.
Rare example of ITM
number stamped here

MALT PLATES

All jeeps (MB / GPW / ITM & M201) passing through the rebuild programme at la Maltournée received a works number which was recorded on a plate welded to the chassis. The location of this plate is shown below. If the glove box data plate has been removed from your jeep then it is still possible to work out when it was rebuilt from this number using the data I have collected so far.

Photo and location diagram - JLM

MALT   Year   MALT   Year
23842 - 1963   35526 - 1971
24066 - 1964   36423 - 1971
25727 - 1964   36909 - 1972
25808 - 1965   37491 - 1972
27634 - 1965   37916 - 1973
27662 - 1966   38635 - 1973
29553 - 1966   38928 - 1974
29790 - 1967   39399 - 1974
30969 - 1967   39543 - 1975
31104 - 1968   40578 - 1975
32492 - 1968   40753 - 1976
32561 - 1969   41215 - 1976
33685 - 1969   41337 - 1977
33793 - 1970   41630 - 1977
35129 - 1970        

FINAL POINTS

It is not always possible to read the chassis numbers without first removing the layers of grease or paint that have built up over the years but it is worth doing if you want to find out something of the history of your jeep.

More information about  jeeps that were rebuilt at la Maltournée and have the MALT plate described above are given can be found on the page dealing specifically with rebuilt jeeps.

Much of the information about dates and numbers that I have included in this section of the site has been gleaned from a database that I started about 1998 and my thanks go to all who have provided me with details of their jeep.

If you own an ex-French army jeep (MB / GPW / ITM or M201) you could help make this section even better. If it is an M201 please use the guide and form below to return your information  if it is an ITM / MB/GPW please contact me and I will explain how you can help.

A full guide to locating all the chassis numbers can be viewed or downloaded here.

A form to enter the chassis numbers for return can be viewed or downloaded here.

Thanks to JLM for the use of his excellent drawings of the locations of chassis numbers.

Reference ¹ MAT 3541 'CATALOGUE DE PIECES DETACHEES'

"Le numéro de sortie de chaine donné par la Société HOTCHKISS est frappé au niveau de la fixation AV du moteur sur la partie supérieure du longeron gauche."

"Le numéro de série de châssis donné par l'Amée se trouve frappé sur la partie supérieure de l'extrémité avant du longeron droit du châssis ainsi que sur la plaque d'instructions. Ce numéro est celui qui détermine les tranches de véhicules pour lesquels seules certaines pièces sont viables dans ce catalogue."