There you are, at a local swap meet. You wander over to table and "pickup" a part (pun intended). You think to yourself.... "will this fit my bus?" You ask the seller what it's for and he asks you what you got. You tell him a 58 double cab and he says "oh yeah yeah,  it fits that. In fact that's exactly what I took it off of!"....Sound familiar? Worse yet, did it even sound convincing? Well understanding the parts numbering system may make your latest swap meet buy a little more secure and final.
Below is just a little research on part numbers, there's is much much much more. If anyone has any info they'd like to pass along or important things I left out, please let me know thanks

Most parts have 9 digits in them, "211 943 027" which will be our example.


211 2 meaning Type2 and 11 meaning model 11 (Panel bus, 211) , with cargo doors on the left. But more then likely it will fit many many other models (which in this case it does) The first 3 numbers typically are from the low end model (panel),so expect to see 211 alot, unless it is a deluxe only part or a special or certain model part. On the reverse side, if it *doesn't* have a 211 number, such as 241 or etc, you can probably bet that it *wont* fit a panel or at least isn't stock(correct) for one.


This set of numbers represents the "group" of the part: engine, brakes, clutch, etc.There are 10 main groups. Each Main group has Sub-Groups due to the amount of parts in each Main group.

In this case 943, which tells you it is part of the #9 "Electrical group" and 43 which falls into the "Lighting" Sub-group. The Groups are broken down like this:
GROUP -1XX - Engine
            SUB   01 - Crankshaft housing, Cylinder, Cylinder head
                   05 - Crankshaft, Connecting rod, Piston, Crankshaft bearing
                   09 - Camshaft, Valves
                   15 - Oil pump, Oil filler
                   17 - Oil cooler
                   19 - Air cooling, Cover plates
                   27 - Fuel pump, Fuel pipes
                   29 - Carburetor, w or w/o accelerator pump
                   41 - Clutch
GROUP -2XX - Fuel, Exhaust, Heater
          SUB   01 - Fuel tank
                   09 - Fuel reserve lever
                   51 - Exhaust pipe, warm air pipe
GROUP -3XX - Tranny
          SUB   01 - Transmission case, Gears, Shafts
                   05 - Same as above, w/synchromesh
GROUP -4XX - Front axle
         SUB    01 - Axle
                   11 - Torsion spring
                   13 - Shock absorber, Front
                   15 - Steering, Left hand drive
                   16 - Steering, Right hand drive
GROUP -5XX - Rear axle
         SUB    01 - Axle
                   11 - Torsion bar
                   13 - Shock absorber, Rear
                   17 - Differential
GROUP -6XX - Brakes
        SUB    01 - Road Wheels
                   09 - Brakes
                   11 - Brake Cylinders and Lines
GROUP -7XX - Frame, Hand and Foot levers
         SUB    03 - Frame
                   04 - Frame (right hand drive)
                   07 - Bumper
                   15 - Hand lever system
                   19 - Foot lever system
                   20 - Foot lever system (right hand drive)
GROUP -8XX - Body
         SUB   01 - Floor fittings - Roof
                   02 - Floor fittings - Roof (right hand drive)
                   05 - Front panel
                   06 - Front panel (right hand drive)
                   07 - Side and rear panels
                   08 - Side and rear panels (right hand drive)
                   19 - Sealing strips
                   27 - Engine compartment lid
                   29 - Hinged rear and loading panels
                   35 - Front cab door's
                   39 - Window parts
                   41 - Door wing
                   45 - Window glasses and weather-strips
                   53 - Molding and protection strips, Holding rails
GROUP -9XX- Electrical
         SUB    03 - Generator
                   05 - Starter
                   17 - Ignition
                   27 - Instrument board and switches
                   41 - Lighting
                   51 - Horn
                   53 - Semaphores
                   55 - Wipers
                   57 - Speedometer
                   69 - Electrical wiring
                   70 - Electrical wiring (right hand drive)
GROUP -0XX - Accessories
        SUB     11 - Jack
                   12 - Tools
                   16 - Accessories
027 The last set of numbers dictates where it goes on your Bus. The very last digit of this set tells you what side the part goes on (left, right center etc). If the last number is odd, that is for the drivers side, Even number is for the passenger side. There is some sort of weird grouping that I haven't quite figured out, between these 3 digits and the previous 3, Which has to do more with precise location. Anyone know more about that?
Anyway here's an example:
261 829 011 - Left (drivers side) gate
261 829 012 - Right (passenger side) gate

Works in most cases until you get into things in the center of the bus, like the SC roof panel, which ends in a 7 and the truck tailgate which ends in a 5....

Well? did you figure out what part 211 943 027  was and where it went? heheh prolly not since that's not exactly a good example to use, but it was fresh on my mind when I wrote this article, since I'm looking for a set. It was a trick part number. The part number is for rear Reflectors for 52-55 trucks and 50-55 buses. See how they grouped Reflectors into the "electrical system" group? Must be because they are associated with the taillights. Now lets discuss some of the extra's that VW slapped onto the end of the part numbers.....
found only on the end of some part numbers.

A, B,C,

A thru D means an updated or superceded part. Can also dictate color differences in the earlier years.
Example 1:
211 941 115          is for Barndoor headlight fluted glass.
211 941 115 A      is for USA non-fluted glass starting in 55 when they started importing to the states.
Two totally different pieces of glass, nothing but a letter separating the styles.
Example 2:
241 931 109       Is a black Barndoor semaphore switch
241 931 109 A   Is a white Barndoor semaphore switch

X X states that it is an Exchange part or a Factory rebuild. Dealer prolly would've sent in your core (starters and etc)
00X In the later years, sometimes there is an additional 3 digit/letter code that states what color or pattern is on the part.

Any other info is appreciated, send it to me - thanks!