Burma, Vietnam

Another long-standing Europlate member, John Grabham, took a very few photos during his long spotting life, which, sadly, ended a few weeks ago, in January 2013.     He had allowed Vic Brumby to scan two of his photos, which are reproduced here:

A Land Rover seen in the 1970s.  A painted Rangoon 11838 translation plate had been added for travel outside Burma.

A Land Rover seen in Wales in the 1970s. A painted Rangoon ‘ri 1838‘ translation plate had been added for travel outside Burma. (JG)

There is no evidence of another Burmese plate sighting in Britain since the 1950s.   Unless YOU know otherwise……


NG*1249 below was John’s other very rare photo, from 1970s Viet-Nam, of the series created for diplomats.

NG abbreviates the Vietnamese Ngoai Gaio, translating to  “Foreign Affairs” – the international equivalent of ‘Diplomatic Corps’.        Though RPWO has a full embassy code list from that time, it remains difficult to attribute the plates of which Europlate has pictures,  to that list.       As a (presumably) British embassy car, this Sunbeam should have 01 in the registration, but it shows either 12 or 49 for a code…….

Usually these were green on yellow – this one, oddly, is black on yellow.

Sunbeam car from the British embassy in Saigon, seen in Cardiff, Wales.  John Grabham.

1970s Sunbeam Rapier car from the an embassy in Saigon, seen in Cardiff, Wales by  John Grabham during the 1970s.


Thanks to John for seizing these two rarities.~~


VN (cont.)

About the same time, Nip Thornley saw a similar diplomatic Ford Fiesta NG 0942  in Britain, but the code doesn’t indicate the British embassy (01)…..

NG.0942 came from Saigon embassy 09 or 42!

NG.0942 came from Saigon embassy 09 or 42!


This Land Rover Y*00137 was shot in Saigon by Murray Bailey  at the British Embassy in Saigon, during the 1970s and is one of the few we can be sure of, attached to a specific embassy.   Here, the 001 must(?) be for GB, car 37, possibly?

Later unknown CD or semi-CD type, using Y or T and five numerals.

Y*00137  Later, unknown CD or semi-CD type, using both Y and T and five numerals with leading zeroes, circa 1976.    Brumby archive, via Murray Bailey.

The 'T'  variant on 1970s Vietnam diplos.

The ‘T’ variant on some  1970s Vietnam diplos.


Below:  The first Vietnamese I ever saw, was in Cannes in 1957 and is the only one I have ever seen with a VN – and with Chinese script included in the plate.    Apparently it reads ‘”Viet Nam“.   The N indicates the North of the country (Hanoi) the B was the code for cars and the M was serial.

No such ideogram-embellished plates existed in Viet Nam, I am sure; this smart American Ford Fairlane  had been specially plated to bring home to France by a departing French senior colonial administrator, I would suggest.

1957 North Viet Nam seen in France.

1957 North Viet Nam seen in France.  White on black.

Finally, below, the unidentified category of embassy or foreigner plate represented by this single example I saw in Saigon in 2008.    Can anyone help?           YES!

Feb. 2013 – Alex Kafka finds the definitive answer to this QT question in his detailed comment below, dated 25/1/2013 …..QT stands for “quốc tế” (‘international’)

QT - Unidentified type in Saigon, 2008.

QT – Unidentified type in Saigon, 2008.   Now see Alex’    International Organisations explanation.       Brumby archive  

3 Responses to Burma, Vietnam

  1. eu575 says:

    Where would we be without the Internet?!
    An on-line Vietnamese dictionary (www.vdict.com) and some Googling might bring us a tad closer to a solution of the NG-NN-QT mystery.

    Referring to RPWO paragraph (c), the dictionary translates “Ngoại Giao” as ‘diplomatic’.
    “Nhà Nước” means ‘state’, as in state government.

    Now if you Google something like “ngoại giao NG QT”, you soon find this very interesting article:

    which for anyone with a basic university degree in Vietnamese is a goldmine of information. For the rest of us, there is at least a photo of a car with an NG number plate, and this at the top of the page:

    … ngoại giao (NG), nước ngoài (NN), quốc tế (QT)

    Now back to the dictionary, and we find that “Nước Ngoài” means ‘foreign country’. “Quốc Tế” means ‘international’.

    In conclusion (if we can believe all this):
    – RPWO is right that NG plates are for diplomatic staff, and the letters NG do stand for “ngoại giao”, but this means “diplomatic” rather than “foreigner”.
    – RPWO is right that NN plates are for non-diplomatic foreigners etc., but NN stands for “nước ngoài” (‘foreign country’) rather than “nhà nước” (‘state’).
    – QT stands for “quốc tế” (‘international’).

    My theory is that the QT plates are for international organizations. Indeed, Vic’s QT plate has “embassy” code 546, which we know denotes international organizations in the official code list.

    On a more serious note, I am very sorry that this all was prompted by the sad news that John Grabham has passed away. I’ve met John at three or more Europlate conventions but unfortunately lost contact with him several years ago.


    • A *delight* to hear from you, Alex –

      and *most worthy* research results proffered, which I will plumb deeply *au matin*, it being 2329 here and *ich bin ein peu fatigué.* * * Il Commanderia di placquajeros. Somewhere in Africa * *

  2. Member Douglas Wilson (hand-writes) that he also saw a Burmese vehicle – in Oxford in 1975/6 – bearing Burmese characters only and sadly, not photographed.
    So – that’s TWO Burma sightings by members…….

    Victor Brumby for Doug Wilson 23/6/13

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