How to Determine the Year of a Johnson Outboard

by Lisa Campbell
Determine the Year of a Johnson Outboard

Determine the Year of a Johnson Outboard

Trying to figure out what the year is of your Johnson outboard can be a frustrating but not impossible task. The year is in code on the Johnson outboards as well as the Johnson Evinrude outboards. Johnson and Evinrude are two of the oldest American made outboards. Invented in the early 1900s, the two companies joined together under the OMC brand (Outboard and Marine Manufacturing Co.) in 1935. They then became part of the Bombardier company. The year is encrypted in the serial number or model number on almost any Johnson outboard. From 1980 to present the year is coded in the serial number. If the Johnson or Johnson Evinrude is older then 1980, you can find the year of the outboard using one of several methods.

Find the serial number or code number. It will be found on the nameplate located on the outboard itself, on the mounting bracket or on the silver core plug on top of the power head. Remove the cowling by lifting the release levers found on each side or front and rear of the outboard to find the core plug. The serial number is typically a mixture of letters and numbers or a series of letters alone. Write the number down.

Decode the number. The number to the far right is the model run or suffix. The next two letters to the left are the part of the code that determine the year. Johnson Evinrude uses a simple code if the outboard is a 1980 to the present model. It is INTRODUCES. I=1, N=2,T=3,R=4,O=5,D=6,U=7,C=8,E=9,S=0. For example, a 1999 mode would show xxxxxEEx. The EE is 99 or 1999. This is only for a 1980 model year or after 1980.

Decode for an earlier model, if the INTRODUCES code is not fitting. From 1969 to 1980, the year is in the model number by year. For example, a 1976 outboard has a 76 in its model or serial number, such as xxxx76x.

To decode motors 1968 and earlier, go to the Bombardier website for your outboard's year. It is easiest to look up the horsepower and year online. Bombardier acquired OMC and the Johnson and Evinrude brands in 2001.

Items you will need

  • Pen
  • Paper

About the Author

Lisa Campbell has been writing green-living and boating articles since 2005. She has been published in "Healing Garden Journal" and "Water Life," as well as several websites. Campbell studied English literature at the University of South Florida.

Photo Credits

  • toy outboard motor image by pearlguy from