Undiscovered series from the past

update 3                   7/04/17

Predominantly from the camera or the scissors of the pre-war collector Karel Stoel, plate types previously unknown, and/or known but un-photographed, have come to light.    There are too many new finds to list them all in the Blog – which makes careful scrutiny of our Club Historic Archive so interesting – but here we choose a few at random to give the reader a taste:

(UAE-Dub) – TEST 109  —  Thought to be the first series of Dealer plates in Dubai, starting 1964.        Subaru 360 minicar.     Taken  c.1969 by our stringer Murray Bailey down by the old camel park, where the Hilton now is.                                        (Brumby archive)

(NL-Utrecht q-51)_LZ-319_Austin fire tender.vbNL164bKS

(NL) LZ 319  —  Utrecht province is not listed as having issued its code L with a suffix, if and when it reached L-99999.    So LZ-319 is a puzzle, shot in 1940s Holland, but could it possibly be an early number from such a continuation series which started and soon stopped, when the 1951 series LL-NN-NN took over?      We know that North- and South- Holland provinces G & H used the continuation suffixes Z, and then X; so maybe Utrecht just squeezed in a run of LZ – Dutch boffins to the rescue, please!

Its an Austin K van often supplied as a very basic fire tender post-war.

(NL)(mil 44-45 CNF)_M-5845586 + CNF 1_Jeep.vbNL200bKS

During the mopping-up months after September 1944 as Holland returned to peace, the office of the Commander of the Netherlands Forces carried a second plate, usually painted or stencilled, with the code CNF.

Is this Jeep’s main military registration M 5845586 on the hood/bonnet from the US or GB issues?   Both countries’ military systems used 6 and 7-numeral serials following M, whereas Holland used M and no more than five numerals.

(NL)(mil 44-45)_CNF=Commander, NL Forces_M-B.vbNL196bKS

(NL) CNF  —  No normal Dutch plate showing on the Prince’s CNF Mercedes coupé of unknown model. but a grand car probably kept somewhere safe during the ‘unpleasantness’ and then liberated.     Or a gift from a departing German visitor……

q(NL)(mil q)_C 4525_(l.d)_Austin Ten.vbNL196bKS

(?)   C – 2545  —  No Idea.   The only clue to this C-prefixed plate filed among the Dutch military is that C was used on some Australian army cars in the immediate post-war period.    Who knows?     Looks like an Austin Eight or Ten.     

(GBG 03-07)(dlr-limited)_Z 3 + 5687_r_Standard14 m.vbGBG8aKS

Similarly, a Standard 14 uses Limited Trade plates whilst waiting to re-tax Guernsey 5687.

(GBG)  —  Z 3  —  A little-photographed shot of Guernsey’s Dealer ‘Z’ series.                             A Standard 14?

(GBG 03~)(timp)_V 5 + 261LMT_mc.vbGBG7bKS

(GBG) V 5  —  A motorcyclist from the mainland (Middlesex) carries his long-stay Guernsey Visitor plate V 5, in black on yellow.

(GBG 03~)(Lt.-Gvr)_G 2_f_Standard 10.vbGBG9aKS

Possibly the Lt.-Governor’s wife, carrying G 2 on a Standard 10 estate car.

(GBG)  —  G 2                G is not normally used in Guernsey.    Special Issue.        This van-conversion Standard 10 estate car was called a Companion.

(ROU)(off 50c)_A-403(ambulance m)_(r.w)(U oval)_FordCustomSedan.vbU167KS

(ROU 40s) – A + 4-03  —  Perhaps a doctor in post-war Montevideo?    An unlisted format, almost certainly light blue on white, as were many official Uruguayan plates.   Is this a circa 1948 Ford?   It’s a 1949 (US) Ford, David Wilson assures us!

(F)(NewCaledonia 50s)(dlr)_E 50_(Essai)_FiatMultipla.vbKS

(F)  French Oceania  —  Never previously suspected, E 50 is evidence of  1950’s New Caledonia’s having a Dealer type, this one on a new Fiat Multipla, fresh from the hold of MV Polynesie.

E=Essai=Trial/Test – Demonstration.    ?Perhaps this was for Dealer 5 and the zero is the first of a number of  Trade Plates he was entitled to use?    There could not have been 50 dealers, surely?

(F)(prov-off).national_WW D 5805_Peu.203.vb162KS

(F)  5805 WW D  —  A French new-vehicle ex-factory delivery plate with a difference.    Instead of the usual numeric départment code following WW, the letter D tells that the vehicle is being delivered to a branch of government in any part of the country.      Peugeot 203.

(DZ)(timp 51-54,53-F).Algeria_32 TT 3ZZ f_negs_AustinA40.jfvbKS

(F  32-53) – 32 TT 3 ZZ  —  (silver on red)   Noted in Francoplaque’s most detailed website, but not illustrated, there, or anywhere else, we believe, is this 1934-?  Transit Temporaire showing 3 to date its 1953 issue and ZZ (or Z)  for French Algeria.     RPWO gives it that serial numbers 1-3999 were allocated to Algiers, 4000-6999 to Oran and 7000-9999 to Constantine.       If Algiers had reached only  32 between 1934 and  1953, we may assume that those big allocations were optimistic!

Concerning the car, an Austin A40 Somerset or Devon (or Dorset), it was always extremely odd to see a British marque circulating in a French territory.   Perhaps this was a UK citizen in Algeria on a special mission.     Maybe  James Bond on his first assignment, even.

(CS 45-53).Prague(UNRRA 43-45)_P-1383 (+AA161)_(b.w)_4wd.vbCS23bKS

(CS)  —  P-1323 is a strangely low number for a c.1945-6 Prague registration, painted on to an imported US Jeep by the UNRRA   sic

United Nations’ Refugee Relief and Rehabilitation Administration 

which operated from 1945-47, thus helping to date this photo.    The additional plate AA 161 is not understood and theories are requested.

q(Rus-SU 15-q)_24_(w.b)_1915photo.anonVB

(R)   24  —  Before the revolution, Russia had no national registration system, and each area/town licenced the very few local vehicles in varying ways.   Member Rein Veldi advises us that this Benz is actually carrying a plate issued in Chisinau, Moldova (then Bessarabia), which the car used to complete an overland expedition to Moscow – a heroic feat in times without roads between towns.

The few extant pictures of pre-1917-and-later Russian vehicles are all-numeric and often black on white, like Lenin (the worker’s hero) carried on his proletarian Rolls-Royce 236  below.

(TO 60s-80s)(trac)_G271_comp_2005VB(Tonga)  G 271  —  Your forthcoming visit to any jungly garden in Nuku’alofa on Tongatapu should throw up an old agricultural tractor, awaiting spares or the enthusiasm to get it working again.    The G-prefix was used for agric. vehicles from the 1960s until the 1980s, but is no longer.     Another item for the history books.

(GB)(timp 31-49)(RAC 48c)_QC 8825_(+Tangiers)_Standard 14.vbJP(MT)  T-4145  —  Tangiers was an international Zone in Morocco between 1924-1956 and issued its own plates, mostly manufactured in the British style and size.    Only the private T-series was officially known, such as carried on this British Standard 14 below.

Here, the car has been brought back to Britain and been given QC temporary-import plates at the port of entry, as Tangiers probably wasn’t a member of the Go-Anywhere Club.     The QC code was issued by the Royal Automobile Association from 1931 to 1949 and 8825 is probably from 1948.

T.W.1  —  Mr. Stoel, however, has passed us an image of a Morris Minor Tourer  at Christmas 1952, driving by a crowd of schoolchildren in the city.     Amazingly (to the writer, anyway) it bears a French-influenced Dealer plate, in which one  W letter-code is supplemented by a T, giving us T-angers/W-dealer/1 and the 1952 year of validity.

Tangiers Dealer – who ever thought they’d see one of those?????

(D 07-50)(temp).Prussia_31205_UScar.vbKS

(D)  31205  __  Germany had used a special oval plate for visitors’ vehicles since 1907 and ran it through to 1950, when the new ‘Z-plates’ (Zoll=Customs) replaced them.     They were mostly used by visitors from the USA, because the US government had not participated in the international agreement on trans-border traffic which allowed entry without carnet and plate-change.    This meant that when a US citizen wished to ship his car to Europe for work or leisure, he must obtain some local plates  to entitle him to circulate in Europe.    Each European country had a system by which a temporary importation could be plated.        The serial numbers of these German oval timp plates were batch-identified to the city of issue; here, 31 coded Hamburg, the great port.

(RI)(cc honcon 62-77).Jakarta_B.7178 K CC_comp_mb1970sVB

(RI) –  B.7178 K CC  —  Indonesia continued the plate system introduced by the Dutch during their tenure of the archipelago.

Consular Corps personnel used normal plates (B=Batavia=Jakarta, in this case) with an added red on white CC following.   This Beetle is outside the Djakarta Hilton circa 1970 – before the current, (flimsy) pressed-alloy plates with slim lettering started in 1977.


PK 68, 140, 1184 & 1784  —  Some Malayan states had their own early 2-letter codes between 1906 and 1948, when a unified system started, using single letter codes.     Perak State was given ‘A‘ and all the previously ‘PK‘ -registered vehicles had to replaced their plates, even pictures of which are now very rare.    However, in this shot, we see four of that long-lost Malay format.

At that time, Ipoh, the main town of Perak state, was the centre of the rubber and tin industries and boasted a higher population than the capital town, Kuala Lumpur (which means ‘muddy estuary’).   Thus there were plenty of prosperous motorists and their car-clubs, as depicted here.                                                           (Douglas Fox archive)


(BUR) –  RD 1802  —  Burma’s independence from Britain in 1947 permitted foreign legations to open, mostly in Rangoon.    Embassy staffers used normal plates (RA/RB/RC to RD) with Latin cyphers, supplemented by a CD oval which included the Burmese script for CD.    This Packard Clipper is thought to be from 1948.  DW corrects this to a 1951 model.   In 1953 to 1958 the plates all changed to Burmese script only, the diplomats still mounting the separate CD oval.


Zephyr Six

(-)  EG 75  —  Eritrea Government plate captured on  a c.1951 Ford Zephyr Six.    Another Ultimate Rarity!


(AOF) –   M 43  —  The first and only known picture of an early French-era registration in modern Mauritania, when it was the colony of French Sudan in Afrique Occidentale Français and would have used the international oval AOF.     (the oval never pictured – nor AEF!)


(F)  CC IT 4  —  This Volvo was photo’d in London in the 1960s and the owner, whom we interviewed, was a Dane living in Tahiti.    It is not thought that French Polynesia had a consular series at that time, and recent visits have confirmed that there is still no such thing – but here is evidence that something did exist – perhaps an Honorary Consul….    Yet the plate itself is made up in exactly the correct form, as if it had been ordered from Paris!

(F)(Tah)(cc 60s)_CC IT 4_compr_wee_London.c1962.VB

(Ray King had a photo of IT 1459, identified as a Foreign Resident , maybe from the 1960s.)                                                                                                        Ray King archive

(F)(Tahiti)(for.res 60s)_IT 1459_(b.g)_press_vbRK


(YU)  —  Thought to be from the little-seen 1956-61 Yugoslav diplomatic series, CD-70-20 was spotted in London circa 1962 on an MGA sports.    Recalled as black on white, with red star before the embassy code 70.            Are there any others pics of this period series?                                                                                       (VB archive)

TEHA website


(AOF) 42-1-CD  —  On a rare Austin A40 Sport, made for the US export market and based on the Austin A30 pan, with body by Jensen Motors, we finally devined that a confusing series of black-on-green CDs with a ‘1‘ anywhere within the plate, were from Senegal.    Plates’ formats varied, sometimes using IT, sometimes CD (even one with neither, 29-1) , and with the ‘1‘ in any position along the plate, plus some serials with leading zeros.      Eventually, our amalgamated collections’ dozen different pictures were recognised to be from the common source of Dakar, the diplomatic centre of French West Africa in the 1950s.

TEHA website

(BW 24-50s)(BPmaybe)_B 141_Gweta Botswana_RPW_resize

B 141 is said to be the original series for Bechuanaland – but the jury is still out.    What is it?    Picture taken in Botswana’s bundu recently.     It’s a Dodge.

PHS 23-1ADN 223 (ADN 60s_BL)

(ADN)  PHS 26  —  Pre-independence Aden used the code 1 preceding the registration, to indicate government/official vehicles    But what is the meaning of the Land Rover’s second plate reading PHS 26?

(ME dd-56)-7689_AG

(ME)  ME-7689  —  Spanish Morocco only stopped issuing its own plates in 1956, having begun in 1922.    It had its own oval, (ME), but no picture exists of that oval.         How many members are old enough to have seen these in circulation?     These girls are proud of their 1951-DW Studebaker Commodore.

TEHA website

(AN 55-96)_ATE 01-69_comp_VB1958

(PAN)   ATE-01-69  —  was an exciting find in 1958 London, though I had no idea it was Angolan until I obtained Keith Marvin’s seminal book a few years later.    We have never been able to divine the ‘TE’ code and a web-search for settlements in that benighted country beginning with T or TE, gives no clues.   The handsome wagon is a Borgward Isabella. Thank goodness for that early camera – and an unaccustomedly steady hand that day!    I never saw another Angola (in Britain) again.          Note London’s traffic in the 1950s.


Another Austin, an A40 model, retired to an outdoor museum in Kota Kinabulu, Sabah, but sporting 1960s plates from Labuan Island.

L 567  —  There are none of the old ‘L’ plates still in Labuan island, but fortunately the museum in Kota Kinabulu, ex-Jesselton, saved this 60’s Austin A40 Farina and gives us a glimpse of the Labuan plate format from 1905 to c1963.   The very few cars which might have left the island in that 60-year period, would have carried changing international ovals as the status of the island changed: 1906-46=Straits Settlements (SS), 1946-59=North Borneo Colony, then N.B. State (CNB,SNB), then maybe a 60s period using (FM) & (PTM), then 1963-current, Malaysia(MAL).

The A40 Farina was manufactured between 1958 and 1967 – in AUS, MEX, ZA and NL as well as in England.

TEHA website

(IR)(cd 41-52)(oos).Tehran_T 58-CD_r_(r.w)_('Political' oval)_Sunbeam-Talbot.csKS

(IR) T 58 CD  —   The stuff of dreams!     A  1940s picture of a (thought-to-be) 1939 Sunbeam-Talbot 3-litre 6-light Sports Saloon (also badged Hillman Hawk) working from the British embassy in Teheran.    The left-mounted oval reads ‘Political Staff’,  the Farsi way to convey ‘Corps Diplomatique’.    The serials were probably not embassy-coded in those times.   

But there were legation offices in other big centres and the rarest diplomatic shot which Mr. Stoel’s Iran album proffered, is this Standard Vanguard Phase 1,  from the late ’40’s.      TABRIZ 2 CD.          What a find!!

(IR)(cd 41-52)(oos).TABRIZ 2 CD_(r.w)_Vanguard.csKS

(NL-S.Holland 28-51)_HZ-76719(cc)_Liberian Consul,Opel.vbNL145aKS

The Consulate-General of Liberia in the Netherlands.

(NL 1928-51)  HZ-76719  —  Before Holland discontinued its 1906-51 plate series, and adopted their characteristic typestyle in the new 1951 LL-NN-NN series, this US-built Consular car (or Opel?) carried a  home-made panel in place of a normal CC oval.      Why on earth the benighted territory of Liberia warranted a presence in post-war Netherlands, I cannot conceive, but presumably some lucky chap enjoyed a two-year spell away from mosquitos, serpents, kidnap and road kill.           After reaching H 99999   South Holland’s code area H had been extended in 1928 with a Z suffix, .          

(Europlate Archive, former Stoel)

Pre-51 registration, post-51 style.   The slim dies used in the making of this particular number-plate, and some others from around the switchover time, are those which characterised the forthcoming 1951 series, yet using the pre-1951 registration, HZ, of South Holland province.    Both periods adhered to white on dark blue. 

TEHA website

(GR 14-54)(mil-af)_EA 205_f_Hillman10.plKS

(GR)  EA 205  —  The Greece Police still use their own plates and we see from this 1944 photo that it started a long time ago.    A high-spec Hillman Minx  of the period.

EA is the abbreviation of Elliniki Astinomia = Greek Police.


Greece had some assistance from Britain in the 1940s and their vehicles were allocated a separate plate format, of which we only have this glimpse…….British Mission        Any ideas?

(GR 40s-50s)(GBfGR q)_V 5319_plKS

(GR Query – V 5319  —  And an unknown Greek type, which has a coloured ‘V’ painted over a GB-style pressed-alloy plate CN 5319.    (The CN could have been from Kitts and Nevis, but is much too high a serial, or from Ceylon – but it was too early to have been part of the CE/CE/CY/CL/CN series there.)

That leaves 1932 Gateshead (GB), and it could be possible, as the car could well be of that vintage.     Might the V be a tax-exempt Visitor sign, for what we now deem Foreign Resident?


That’s all for now………..send any comments – and please keep sending your old (pre-1975) photos for entry to the Club historic archive.

TEHA website

I have checked this draft for errors and omissions, and all seems well.    However, the moment I press ‘Publish’, I will find clangers incomprehensibly still present.    Ho Hum.

Told you so.        Several ‘enhancement’ made already – and only 16 hours had passed!

And more, with new pics – 17/04/2018     Further edited 27/4/18

9 Responses to Undiscovered series from the past

  1. David Powell says:

    32TT3ZZ is on an Austin A40 Somerset. This was an upmarket version of the A40 and had a slightly more bulbous and heavy body. Although it had the same mechanical parts as the slightly smaller Dorset (2 door) and Devon (4 door, estate,van and pick-up) all of which had a slightly smaller, more angular body. The Somerset had a slightly tuned up engine to cope with the extra weight etc.

    • I had opined that it was a Somerset, but entered the other two models to the ‘possible’ list, as I couldn’t judge the length of the car – and had always believed that the front end was common to all three Austins. Thanks, David.

  2. David Wilson says:

    Very interesting blog entry Vic; thanks for sharing. And you were pretty close on the Uruguayan Ford (but no cigar)… it’s a 1949. The Packard was not quite so close… it’s a 1951. And, since you asked so politely, the Studebaker is also a 1951.

  3. douglasfox1 says:

    O Oracle,

    Splendid stuff!

    I take issue with “During the mopping-up months in 1943-4 as Holland returned to peace” as the Allied forces did not reach Holland until September 1944. Perhaps “1944 – 5”?

    Similarly “United Nations’ Refugee Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (q.v.) which operated from 1943-47” as the UN was not founded until October 1945.



  4. Bruno Vernhes says:

    Great pictures Vic Thanks.
    The Peugeot can also be read 5806 WW0
    0 was the code from Paris area.

  5. David Powell says:

    Re Guernsey G2, this was part of a series used for official and semi-official vehicles. They were never very plentiful and one was issued to the Royal Mail van during the German occupation. Royal Mail were responsible for the postal service on GBG (incl Sark and Alderney), GBJ and GBM until the island governments took over the service in about 1970, Royal Mail and Post Office Telephones vehicles on GBJ and GBM were re-registered in the island normal series but the GBG ones retained their London registrations as used on the UK mainland, one odd feature of this was that GBG AND GBJ sometimes exchanged vehicles to cover breakdowns and extra work etc. Guernsey vehicles moving to Jersey acquired GBJ normal series plates but Jersey vehicles moving to Guernsey would have their old London registration re-activated.

  6. David Powell says:

    Austin A40 L567 these were licence produced by Innocenti in Italy but because of Italian Import laws UK produced ones would have been very expensive. The Innocenti version sold fairly well as it had bodywork designed by Farina however Innocenti slightly restyled the front to distinguish their product from the Austin whose ‘Countryman’ estate version had a curious split tailgate arrangement with half going up and half down. The innocenti model had a full height lifting tailgate and was said to be the first Hatchback Supermini when it appeared in 1960 it outsold the 2 door saloon version for most of the time that it was in production

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