Here's How To Tell The Year Of A Mail Truck Instantly

Illustration for article titled Here's How To Tell The Year Of A Mail Truck Instantly
Illustration: Jason Torchinsky

As you may be aware, we’re currently in the waning days of the most-common vehicle you’re likely to see that’s not from a company known for building cars: the Common North American Mail Truck, also known as the Grumman Long Life Vehicle (LLV). We’ve already seen the venerable LLV begin to be replaced by (slightly disguised) Mercedes Metris vans before the still-undecided, all-new replacement shows up. So, before it’s gone, here’s a fun little LLV Easter egg you can use to impress almost nobody!


While some LLV arcana I already knew (it’s based on a Chevy S10 pickup with an Iron Duke engine, has no a/c, that kind of thing) and there are some details my very own mail carrier told me that he prefers to the Metris (the LLV has a passenger-seat area load tray, the Metris does not; also, The Metris is less roomy in the rear to stand and move in) more of these I learned from this little interesting post over at, unsurprisingly, Why Is This Interesting?

That’s where I learned about the incredible lengths LLV drivers would take to stay cool in these drivable aluminum EZ-Bake ovens in the summer, including soaking shirts in rivers, shoving ice packs down pants, making ersatz gas-station-cooler a/c units, and my favorite one, a mail carrier who had a friendly meat packing plant en route that let him park his LLV in the giant freezer during his lunch break.

OK, but here’s the fun easy Easter egg: You know how none of these postal trucks have a license plate, but instead a number, that you can see above the windshield?

Well, the first digit of that number tells you how old the LLV is! The first digit will be be either a 7,8,9,0, 1, 2, 3, or 4, corresponding to the years 1987 to 1994, when the LLVs were built.

So, if you see one with a 7, you know that’s one of the oldest, a 33 year-old truck from 1987. If you see one with a 4, you know it’s a comparative baby, delivering the mail for only 26 years.

Illustration for article titled Here's How To Tell The Year Of A Mail Truck Instantly
Screenshot: Deseret Times

This random LLV I found in a Deseret News article? Well, I know it’s a healthy 30 years old, because that leading 0 tells me it was built in 1990.

Illustration for article titled Here's How To Tell The Year Of A Mail Truck Instantly
Photo: Creative Commons

One of the trucks from the Wikipedia article? It’s from 1992.

I’m not exactly sure why, but I liked knowing that little bit of information. It makes me feel like I’m getting a peek into how the hidden mechanisms of the world work, and even better, I can finally know if my mail carriers are telling me the truth about how old their trucks are.



Senior Editor, Jalopnik • Running: 1973 VW Beetle, 2006 Scion xB, 1990 Nissan Pao, 1991 Yugo GV Plus, 2020 Changli EV • Not-so-running: 1977 Dodge Tioga RV (also, buy my book!:


Along with Martin, Dutch Gunderson, Lana and Sally Decker

How about a little love for the alternate USPS delivery vehicle, the Ford Explorer-based Utilimaster FFV?