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basically this is a break down of what the numbers mean

the first letter is - Emissions

if it starts with C it meets Euro 1 emission legislation
X it meets Euro 2
Y it meets Euro 3
Z it meets Euro 4 which is the current legislation that new cars have to meet

if it has no letter its an engine from before the legislation came into force

the second two numbers are - Engine Capacity

so a 1.4litre astra would be 14
a 2litre carlton should have 20
a 3litre carlton GSi will have 30
a 3.6litre Lotus Carlton will be 36

the next letter - Compression

each letter relates to the compression ratio
G= 8 to 8.5:1
L= 8.5 to 9:1
N= 9 to 9.5:1
S= 9.5 to 10:1
X= 10 to 11.5:1
Y= 11.5+:1

last letter - Fuel System

the last digit refers to the type of fuelling system

D= Diesel
E= Multi-point Injection
V= Carburettor
Z= Single-point injection

Certain engines have further engine numbers these explain what they mean

C= Corporation ignition system
F= Vehicles for Authorites
H= High Output/Supercharging
I= Irmscher
J= Throttled Output
K= Komplex
L= Low Output/Supercharging
P= Twinport/Power Adapted
R= Increased Output
T= Turbo
U= Uruguay
V= Volume Model
W= Venezuela
2= Family II engine

Some examples

C20LET - Calibra

C = Euro Emissions 1
20 = 2.0 Litre
L = Compression Ratio 8.5-9:1
E = Multipoint Injection
T = Turbo

Z14XEP - Corsa C

Z= Euro Emissions 4
14 = 1.4 Litre
X = Compression Ratio 10-11.5:1
E = Multipoint Injection
P = Twinport/Power addaprtive

16NV - Mk1 Astra

16 = 1.6 litre
N = Compression Ratio 9-9.5:1
V = Carburettor

NB car made in 1982 before Euro emissions regs so no code.
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