Angola

Angolan Developments,

pre-and post-Portugal.

updated 29/12/2013

1920s-1955

When the Portuguese took the first motor vehicles to their massive West African colony of Angola is not recorded, but we might expect it to have been in the 1910s or 1920s.    They established their capital on the Atlantic coast at Luanda and for the first many years, the few vehicles there were, were registered there, using an L prefix, followed by up to five  numerals.   Oddly, for a Portuguese territory, those numerals were not split in to pairs by the characteristic dash – though evidence shows that the Luanda letter  L  was so separated from the serial number (below).     Mozambique, Madeira and the Azores also dodged the numbers’ dash separator in those early years, finally adopting it .    One of only two pictures Europlate has of that Luanda series is supplied by John Pemberton, who saw this Nash in London in the 1940s.    (and RPWO shows late issue L-11006)

L-7234 shot by EU83 in the 1940s, when the international oval for Portuguese West Africa (Angola) was PAN, but the oval was never seen and cars bore the P oval when abroad.    This owner had a separate alloy nameplate cast - great!     The image was almost illegible, but the clever manipulation of Antonio in Barcelona recovered this good picture.

L-7234  shot by EU83 in the 1940s, when the international oval for Portuguese West Africa (Angola) was PAN – but that oval was never seen and cars bore the P oval when abroad.    This American Nash owner had a separate alloy nameplate cast – great!      This photo was originally almost illegible, but the clever manipulation of Antonio Barragan Lopez in Barcelona recovered this good picture.

 

1955?-1996?

In about 1955 the system changed to AAA 12-34.    A letter from the motoring association there in 1960 advised us that there were no regional codes – everything was licenced from the capital.

This correspondence with deceased member Roger Anderson advises 'no regional codes - just alpha sequence.

This correspondence with deceased member Roger Anderson advises ‘no regional codes – just alpha sequence.   Note the reference to the ‘new’ series – we believe it had commenced 5 years before, in 1955!

And so, between 1958 and 1978,  we saw AAD (1976), AAK (’90), AAV (’64), ABA (’78), ACR (’64), ALA (’69), ALV (’58), ATE (’58), ANR (’64), AVM (’69).

From 1961,  Angolan rebels fought the Portuguese colonial military for independence, until, in 1974, a military coup détat  in Portugal itself resulted shortly after (1975) in that former dictatorship surrendering all their African ‘overseas provinces’  to home rule.     The end of that war after the Carnation Revolution military coup of April 1974 in Lisbon resulted in the exodus of hundreds of thousands of Portuguese citizens – plus military personnel of European, African and mixed ethnicity from the former Portuguese territories and other newly independent African nations.      From May 1974 to the end of the 1970s, over 1 million citizens left these former colonies, and would restart their lives predominantly in Portugal, South Africa, North America, the rest of Western Europe and Brazil (Wikipedia)

It is no surprise, then, that plate spotters of the 60’s and 70’s were able to see a few Angolan plates circulating in other countries, as many people who were able, left that unhappy land – probably with their cars laden with whatever possessions they could pack, and escaping by crossing land borders between Angola and Zaire, Zambia, and (now) Namibia.      Doubtless a windfall for customs and immigration opportunists at those border ‘offices’……

(AN 55-96)_AAD 70-12_VB197606_resize

Angola’s second series,which commenced in 1955, is exemplified by AAD/7012, seen in Paris in 1976 on a Mazda.    The roofrack would have been useful for the evacuation!          Brumby archive

(AN 55-96)_ATE 01-69_comp_VB1958

ATE 01-69 on a Borgward Isabella estate car in 1968 London.   The question arises: How come, in only the 3 years from  the 1955 series start, Angola issued alphabetically as far as ‘T’ – IF indeed, their plates were issued in serial order – AAA, AAB, AAC etc?    Was the ATCA auto-club letter wrong?    Or was it only referring to Luanda-registered vehicles?                    Brumby archive.

 

AVM and ATE:  There are no city or county names in Angola which begin with T or V  – so  what might they be?

ACR could possibly be from Cabinda, the Angolan exclave within DRCongo and bordered by Republic of Congo-Brazzaville.   See:     http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cabinda_Province

 ATE – Cabinda has the local name of Tchiowa.  Unlikely the Portuguese would have referred to that in a code.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

In the Johannesburg military museum is an army lorry captured in one of the many 60s-70s scraps in Angola, still with the military plate, though illegible.    Brumby archive

?3-12-81  ..  In the Johannesburg military museum is an army lorry captured in one of the many 60s-90s scraps in Angola, still with its Portuguese-looking military plate, though frustratingly, partly illegible.                 Brumby archive

 

1996-2004

Eventually, peace reigned and motor registrations resumed, but now, the three-letter prefix was altered to use the  two first letters to code new regional licencing offices, and one serial letter to follow.      Many specialist vehicles were brought in from overseas to rebuild the ruined infrastructure, including the mine-clearance trucks built in South Africa, pictured below.     The green background shows that the lorry has been imported free of import duties, and if it is not re-exported, but sold locally when withdrawn from service, it would have to re-register with normal white on black plates.

(AN 96-04)(0tax)_LDI-42-55_comp_VBpr

LD is for Luanda in the 1996-2004 series, in green to indicate its duty-free import status. LDI-42-55. Brumby archive

(AN 96-04)(0tax)KK.Menongue-Longa road_resize

LB is for the independently-registered city of Lobito – 1996-2004.     A tax-free import Land Rover LBA-33-88 engaged in mine-clearing, with The Halo Trust.        (Looks like a Czech Tatra or a Russian truck in the ditch…..)     Brumby archive via Peter Renwick

All in a days' work for some brave volunteers.

LBA-45-51 .. All in a days’ work for some brave international volunteers.

2002 sighting in Namibia was this possible Luanda reg.

LDN/62-97  –  2002 sighting in Namibia was this  Luanda-registered Isuzu tourist.      Brumby archive

and another Namibian-based sighting.   Cabinda can also be spelled with a K - is this from the exclave?

and another Namibian-based sighting.   KE=Cunene province.

2004 ~

sees the current series introduced, using the new two-letter area codes from the 1996 series – and now with a two-letter series suffix.    Here a duty-free and a duty-paid examples, both from the capital.

(AN 2004~)(0tax)_LD-79-79-AE_cu_RPWO (AN 2004~)_LD-17-12-AE_comp_VBpr_resize

So little is known about this benighted country and so few records are likely to have survived the decades of war that any slight information or images which readers might be able to add, would be a most valuable contribution.

END OF ANGOLA – FOR NOW.

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3 Responses to Angola

  1. Nico says:

    The Portuguese Wikipedia says that there were regional codes from 1955 onwards, for example AA until AI for Luanda. There even is a picture of the pre-1955 system on the page. See here: https://pt.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matr%C3%ADculas_de_autom%C3%B3veis_em_Portugal#Matr.C3.ADculas_nos_antigos_territ.C3.B3rios_ultramarinos_portugueses

    Best regards from Germany…

  2. I have a photo taken in 1930 when my Grandfather was in Angola showing a car (likely a late 1920s Dodge or similar touring car) bearing the registration N-714

    • That has got us guessing! No previous ‘N’ code seen – John Weeks thinks it could code Northern Province in an early code type. Thanks a lot for this unique photo, ‘thingsforsaleinbrittany’!! Let’s hope some more info follows from members or any other source.

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