Unlike the auto industry which has specific model years for their products, most specifications for a given Fender instrument model, change little if any, through the lifetime of the model.
While there have been periods where dramatic changes have occurred, for example: the transition periods between Leo's Fender and the CBS years, as well as the transition between CBS' Fender and the current ownership, generally speaking, most models are feature specific and do not change from year to year..
So, you can't afford that '54 Strat, or that '64, or even that '74 for that matter.
Most notably, production dates have been penciled or stamped on the butt end of the heel of the neck of most guitars and basses, although there were periods when this was not consistently done (1973 to 1981, for example) or simply omitted.
instrument production history, production dates have been applied to various components.
Therefore, while helpful in determining a of production dates, a neck date is obviously not a precisely definitive reference.
Most specifications for a given Fender instrument model change little (if at all) throughout the lifetime of the model.