Life after Stoel

December 13, 2017

Sorry, Bloggers, but the digitisation of the images from the Stoel and other albums has kept me away from posting new stuff on our Blog, though there’s plenty of historical material to interest us therein.    So – a start to the catchup…….


We start with an American Jeep photographed in Prague between 1945 and ’47, registered P-1323, which is painted on to the tailgate.

It also carries white-on-black plate AA 161, which is not presently identified, but the stencilled UNRRA below tells us that the Jeep belongs to the (first to set up) section of the all-new United Nations.   UNRRA  existed from 1945 to 1947 (see Wikipedia/United NationsRRA).   That international body undertook Relief and Rehabilitation Administration, to help move-on or to repatriate the myriad Displaced Persons who found themselves marooned out-of-country at the end of WW2.

This Jeep team would have been working in the Czechoslovakian/Austrian zone.   Note an apparent petrol shortage?





Bloggers may not know of this excellent-quality book published by Czech enthusiasts  Zeleny and Feuereisl which gives chapter and verse on the CS systems from 1919 to today and covered the former lands of  Moravia, Bohemia, Silesia, Slovakia and Carpathian Ruthenia.     The quantity and quality of photographs is marvellous, and the data of codes and dates is most professional.      Good thing too – the history of plates there is a minefield!

The authors are friends of our own Czech Mate, Alexander Kavka, who may have copies for sale – that’s where I bought mine.




Another extraordinary labour of love is represented by this excellent-quality book on the plates of Latvia created by the people of the Automobile Museum of  Riga.     Again the quality of the photos is good – some very good – and though the data is much less detailed that in the Czech book, nothing important seems to have been left out.    The period covered is from 1900 to the present day.

Member Rein Valdi brought this volume to the attention  of the Blog for which, thank you, Rein.      He stopped in London during December 2017 and we enjoyed a few pints whilst nattering about plates.     As a fluent Russian (and perfect English) speaker,  he specialises in the Soviet bloc.


Titulaire Temporaire

Found among the French albums of the Stoel collection, among the red TT plate series used by foreigners in France from 1933-54, is this image of an Austin A40 Somerset from pre-independence Algeria, 32 TT ZZ.      The only written reference to this series is in the all-encompassing French Club’s website, Francoplaque, and I don’t think any previous pictures have surfaced until now.     The giveaway Algeria code is ‘ZZ‘ and in this case, the ‘3’ probably dates it as a 1953 issue.     Temporary import no. 32!

It is all the stranger because it was never a common thing for the French motorist to buy a British car – nor really any make from outside France.     Le Land-Rover was an exception, as there were no domestic manufacturers of such cross-country vehicles.

But because the TT series was also used to register used cars arriving from abroad for extended visits to France and her territories, we may perhaps guess that this Austin belonged to a Briton working in Algeria in some NGO or aid capacity, and who brought his own car with him.


This 1950s New Caledonia E 50 shot is of a new import to the French Pacific territory, carrying the trade plate of the importing dealer, who has just collected the Fiat Multipla from the vessel ‘Polynesie’.      The NC dealer code ‘E‘ had not been previously known before this pictorial evidence!    (Essai/Trial/Delivery/Dealer)




Seen awaiting the Corsica Ferry from Nice in the 1970s is a Morris 1100 (another British make with a French address!) in transit to the island zone B (Bastia).    Its Corsica dealer plates show 104 W2B and represent the 1976-93 dealer layout.     

France used the letter ‘W‘ for Dealer plates from the very beginning, probably because it is a letter which doesn’t actually exist in the French language/alphabet, except for use in imported words, such as ‘wagon’, ‘weekend’ and ‘sandwich’.      All borrowed from perfidious Albion – which took  its entire dictionary from The Rest Of  The World – and probably 50% directly from French, and in turn, Latin……


Below:   20 W 2 represents the 1952-76 Corsica Dealer layout, in which 20 then coded the whole island.    A new-looking Fiat 1100, circa 1957.




The last French oddity is this 1950s government Delivery/Provisional.    Here ‘D‘ abbreviates ‘Domaine’ or government region.

This Peugeot 203,  5805 WWD is on delivery from the supplying dealer or government motor pool to the provincial operating office, where it will spend its working life, having been first permanently registered with a simple ‘D‘ suffix




This fuzzy shot of Granada GR-3454 from the 1930s could well be the legendary Karel Stoel interviewing a Spanish voyager in the Netherlands..   Is that a US Ford?




Who should breeze in to London during November 2017, but James “McGuinnessy” Gordon, Honourable Member for Mount Tom Price?     He had come by a rare Trieste motorcycle plate in Europe which he really wanted to show to someone, so I dashed up to the capital and the only place we could find to talk about it and xeno-autonumerology in general was a pub  – so that just had to do!

Thanks for the visit, Jim!

=========Pretty Barmaid archive========



For no special reason, except that it is a little-seen San Marinese variant, here is (RSM) Dealer 195 on a Mini-Cooper a few years ago.

nb   In 59 years of plate-spotting in GB, I have never seen ONE RSM vehicle !


And finally, for this session, Uruguay.

 The next-to-never-seen Uruguay international oval (U) in Holland in the 1960s.                 7-47  on a VW Karmann-Ghia VW.   The letters ‘CD’ and ‘CC’  were not shown on Uruguayan plates until the 60s or 70s.    Simply ‘Montevideo’ either over or under the number, the second component of which was probably the embassy code, and the leading number, the serial.  So, Mission 47, car 7.

(Now apparently using (ROU) – but we’re not likely to see that oval either!)

(ROU)(cd 50s).Montevideo_9-64_comp_(bl.w)_M-B.France1958VB

This Benz was snapped in southern France circa 1960, when the (U) dip. plate colours were light blue on white, as per the national flag.

========= (Brumby archive)==========

BELOW:    1955 saw a new ROU president taking a ride in his new company car, below.  Probably in white on the light blue shades of the national flag.

(What is that car?)

19 Dec 2017 –  A Dodge Custom Royal Lancer, advises member Rein.

(ROU)(off 55).Montevideo(gv-pres.)_1_(bl.w)_UScar.vbU162.KS

===========  (Stoel archive)============

And who can offer an analysis of this unusual Uruguayan plate 4-03, seen in Europe, we can assume, from the architecture and the international ‘U’ sign, carried by a mid-1940s US Ford Sedan.     Possibly blue on white.

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

=========  (Stoel archive)==========



The RPW online-pictures site TEHA2 is full of these rare and unusual plate shots captured by the early collectors and photographers, and it is updated daily, as new material arises.   It can be a useful aid to identifying your unrecognised plates.

The Blog pictures are mostly selections from that repository of about 30,000 images which covers every country from the start of motoring to the mid-seventies  (save for continental USA and CDN, which would be a life’s work on their own).

All paid-up Europlate members should peruse TEHA2.    In future, it will be contained within the passworded Europlate website, we earnestly hope, but for now, if you would like it sooner  – just email me for the standalone link:



ps.    No news yet on the Europlate website, which is suffering from a (nervous?) breakdown at the hosting outfit in the US.      We understand that Mr, Trump is taking the matter up with them.

 18/12/17   NOW RESTORED – hallelujah!



VB – Streatley, Dec 14 2017.


















Malaysia Dealer change

March 21, 2014

When Kuala Lumpur exhausted its three-letter/four number series in September 2013, with WYY 9999, a new series began with W 9999 A, in which the suffix A would alphabetically proceed to B, C etc., as far as W 9999 Y.      (Z will be excluded in case of confusion with the military, which always uses Z.)    Other suffix exclusions are I, J and O – oddly, suffix Q is used even though it is associated as an identifier for Malaysian Sarawak. By mid March 2014, the letters in suffix are almost used up!      T is the latest seen but we believe there are some U’s and V’s  out there….   (now confirmed March 30, 2014).     We know W suffix starts in May or June.    Then X and Y will complete this cycle and the next batch will be WA 1234 A-Y, then WB etc.

W 3767 T

W 3767 T is the latest seen, as at 21/3/2013.    W codes Wilaya, the title of the autonomous zone of Kuala Lumpur within Selangor state.     Brumby archive

this was the Wilaya dealer plate layout which was found to conflict with the new regular plates, so had to be redesigned.

This was the former Wilaya dealer plate layout which was found to conflict with the new regular plates, even though normals are black and the Dealer ones are dark blue,  so the Dealer layout had to be redesigned…..

and this is the replacement  Trade Plate for new issues, which will probably replace the former.

….and this is the replacement Trade/Deale pllate for new issues, which will progressively replace the former design, but for now, only in the W region of Malaysia.    Still silver on blue, and retaining the 1950s British font.     I wonder where they are made?

An  interesting sighting related to the Motor Dealer category of  the Malaysian system, has been this towing-plate, properly constructed and possibly an authorised type, though the first ever seen and photographed.

Photo missing)


April 10, 2013



Never one to shirk La Dolce Vita,  my plate-researcher’s soul was ever  drawn to warm, safe places and I felt  it could be left to other, bolder members to deal with Chechnya, DRC, CAR, North Korea, Nigeria and New Guinea.   In modern times, Mr Ralidis appears as a heroic figure, who chances life and limb to snatch plates from the jaws of  cruel zones such as Iran and Pakistan.    A medal may one day be his.      The islands of the Indian Ocean always seemed to appeal on hedonistic  grounds, and save, now,  for the marauding bandit sea-pirates off the Somali coast, it remains one of the world’s fine zones.

British Airways catapulted me to Mahé Island, and to the capital village, Victoria in 1991.     For a tiny place,  it had a pleasing variation of plates, designed after the style of the British, who controlled the islands from 1903 until independence in 1976, when they fell under the stultifying spell of Russian communism.    From the first cars there, about 1937, straightforward white/silver on black plates with an S prefix followed by up to four serial numbers were, and remain, the normal private series (though now using five-digit serials).

Most plates were properly made, but here is a painted variant.    Brumby archive

Most plates were properly made, but here is a painted variant. Brumby archive

S 234 is a plate from the Mas collection

S 234 is a plate from the Mas collection

Seychelles permits retention of voided numbers and low numbers are always re-used.    Brumby archive

Seychelles permits retention of voided numbers and low numbers like S 5  are always re-used.    Motor cycles use normal car plates, but smaller.         Brumby archive

Musician/Beatle George Harrison had invested in a grand hotel project with Peter Sellers and others on Mahé – and in the British rowing town of  Henley-on-Thames, where he lived, near my home, I saw his gold Rolls-Royce Corniche  convertible on Seychellois plates AND sporting an SY oval – clearly a souvenir of the islands which he had had flown home!     Sadly no photo – he was driving the other way – and George was no slow driver!   Among his many quick cars was one of the first V12 6-litre F1 McLaren streetcars.

Taxis carried normal plates, supplemented by this specially-manufactured Hire Vehicle plate with its unique authorising number.     Brumby archive

Taxis carried normal plates, supplemented by this specially-manufactured Hire Vehicle plate with a unique authorising number.       Brumby archive

Seychelles Government employ a serial from the national series, on black, using a G prefix.    Brumby archive..

Seychelles Government plates employ a serial from the national series, on black, using a G prefix, removable when withdrawn from service..    Brumby archive..

Government vehicles used the same series, but with a red background, repainted black when sold in to private use.    Brumby achive

Parastatal (semi-government) vehicles used the same series, but with a red background, repainted black when sold in to private use. S 1537.  Brumby archive

(SY1)(para)_S 8333_VB1991_resize

Diplomats plates were also taken from the main system, but yellow-backgrounded, and with CD or CD appended to the plate in a random way.    Brumby archive

Diplomats’ plates were also taken from the main series, but yellow-backgrounded, and with CD or CC appended to the plate in a random way.   S CD 6266.   Brumby archive

Uncoded CD 2046 CD

1991. Uncoded Seychelles Diplomatic Corps  S 2064 CD

the less-fequently-sen Consulat variant, CC S 1884.    Brumby archive

The less-frequently-seen Consular Corps variant,                 CC S 1884.       Brumby archive

the very rare sight of a UN variant UN S 6993 is characterised by a green background - a change from UN Blue!

The very rare sight of a CD  UN variant UN S 6993 is characterised by a green background – a change from UN blue!     Brumby archive.

A handful of motor dealers exist on Mahé island only and use test plates to legally move untaxed vehicles.    What a fine plate!      Brumby archive

A handful of motor dealers exist on Mahé island only and use red  Seychelles  Test plates to legally move untaxed vehicles.    What a fine plate!      Brumby archive


Mpumalanga or not?

February 8, 2013
Dealer (trade) plate from Mpumalanga Province, ZA.

Dealer (trade) plate from Mpumalanga Province, ZA.

Here is an example of the dealer plate for the South African province of Mpumalanga, characterised by the letter ‘A’ starting the trio of registration letters, and of course the MP suffix of the province.

So when I was cruising the streets of Knysna (ZA) today, and saw a BMW parked, registered ACE 668 MP, I stopped the scooter and went back to photograph it, as MP dealer is quite unusual.(MOC)_ACE 668 MP_ VB2013_resize (MOC)_ACE 668 MP_cur_ Knysna VB2013

Well, it caught me out!     Perhaps you other members were quicker to recognise my mistake?

Who will be first to explain by commenting below?


Did you know that South Africa doesn’t issue plates with any vowels – because without vowels, no vulgar words can be formed – which saves the authorities the headache of  contemplating possible word meanings in many African and other languages.

One day, when they see how much money they can make from adding vowels, and then being able to sell stupid letter combinations to vain citizens, I expect they will change their minds!      Even Sweden succumbed to the demon vanity plate industry, a country I always assumed was too ‘straight’ to do such a thing.    Germany and France still proudly sidestep the temptation to mine this income source – bravo!

Which Argentine series is it?

September 27, 2012

Seen in Buenos Aires in 1989, I never did find out what category of plate this was.     Any ideas?

Thanks to Bernt – see Comment below.

Unknown RA m/c

This Argentine Dealer plate was an oddity – and what a great thing to see!   (see Comment)

Argentine Dealer plate on locally-built Fiat

Because Argentina made its plates so well in years gone by, many survive in excellent condition, as has this San Vicente enamel example from 1929.   I found it  in a massive old milk factory in which a man named Nestor Corsi made new Ford Model T’s out of original parts which he gathered in from farms all round Uruguay and Argentina.    He manufactured anything he couldn’t find, including any style and colour of body, and sold them all to collectors abroad, mostly in USA and Switzerland, he told me.

1929 enamel plate from Argentina (VB collection)

It used to be at least twice a year we would see Argentine cars in London, during the 1960s.    Here is a Beetle near Putney, as always in  those times, carrying an international oval!

Cordoba-registered VW in London in 1968.

And a big American car of the period, from province of Buenos Aires, rather than from the city area.   It displays the usual very large RA oval which owners obtained from the Automobile Club of Argentina, as witness their shield.  Seen in Kensington, 1960s.

The oddest Argentine sighting for me was a 1920’s car bumbling along the road from Kuching to Lundu in Sarawak, in January 2011!     It belongs to a family which is circumnavigating the world.    Their movements are documented in several sites, one of which is:–Couple-Herman-Candelaria-Zapp-travel-world-11-years-having-children-way–theyre-going.html

Is there a new Italian type?

September 27, 2012

Victor Brumby in Italy in September 2012.

I followed a tractor and trailer in the countryside at dusk near Orvieto last week, which had both tractor and trailer plates in medium BLUE on yellow, not black on yellow as usual.     The trailer carried the same registration as the tractor (which I seem to have lost!), but had the red ‘R’   for Remorque (trailer).  These were both pressed plates, not painted.      It was too dark to take a photo, and indeed, my Italian would have been inadequate to explain to the rustic worthy who piloted the machine, the bizarre concept of xenoautonumerology – and his part in extending the boundaries of the science.    In other words, I couldn’t stop him, explain and photograph.    BUT – I DID follow him for about 6 kilometres before giving up.

Days later, I saw another blue on yellow tractor plate, that time without my camera (I am too old to use a smart-phone with built-in film unit) and the system was identical.     However, most of the many other ag. tractors and trailers I saw were as we usually expect, viz: black on yellow.

I await a response from out Italian pals, who may know of this type.

March 2014……Well –  no-one else  has reported this blue/yellow ag. plate AND I have been back to Umbria to search for it, during 2013 – so I must explain my faulty experience by reference to one or more of the Italian beers which I enjoy before I go spotting in the Republic!      

Moroni, Moretti and Magneto Marelli can all share the blame!!

BC 418T – Normal agricultural tractor series since 1999. No regional identifier.

Rimorchio Agricola (Trailer Agricultural). Current series since 1999.


The paper temporary plates are still sometimes to be seen – see 27140 P 5.    The first I photographed was in 1965,  51962 C 1, so that type has been running for a long time!

P5 is the regional code for Viterbo interim plates, used on this Fiat awaiting technical approval.

Circa 1965, this new Fiat 850 carried temporary plates while it awaited inspection and allocation of its permanent plates.      Code C1 is for Bolzano region.                                             Brumby archive


RPWO mentions that personalised Dealer plates are permitted, which explains this oddity, seen at the customs yard at the Adriatic port of  Ancona.     Perhaps this dealer trades in importing and exporting vehicles?

2012 personalised Italian Dealer plate.   Brumby


In Trento, just before commencing the Brenner Pass into Austria, I paused for lunch (at an excellent Japanese restaurant – unusual for Italy!)  and found this this specially-plated Civil Defence 4wd with the TN code for Trento.

Trento is one of the three areas issuing these official Civil Defence PC plates, with Bolzano and Aosta.


An unusual DAF 33 belt-drive car from the 1960s was awaiting photography in Orvieto, bearing the old black series plates.       In amazing condition, and clearly the owners’ pride and joy.

Dutch-built ‘Daffodil’ model 33 car from the 1960s, still working in Italy 2012.

DAF 33 rear plate from TR – Terni.      VWB

Canada – odd pre-war Quebec bus plate

July 6, 2012

            … The now-defunct but much-respected old vehicle journal in England, Old Motor, depicted this shot of an AEC bus in Québec in 1933, and it shows an X prefix, which is not noted elsewhere.     Could ‘X’ have been a code for service/city buses?  (now see John weeks’ reply.)

Until the 1970s, British vehicles were very popular in Canada, even though US factories had plants there, building several brands of tough US models.    A visit by the writer in the 1970s reminds of some common British makes in service then – an Austin 1300 (named Austin America for export to North America) and the bigger Austin 1800 (dubbed The Land-Crab) with a Vauxhall Vict0r, consecutively registered in Ottawa, Ontario.

This Austin America carried a ‘Q’ international oval, to display the owner’s pride in his province and perhaps his wish to secede from Greater Canada, the better to develop the bizarre patois of the ancient French language, which the Québecois have made their own..

    .               .




British Commer lorries were represented in Canada, as this 1954 photo shows of a Government vehicle in Ontario – where the small ‘C’ stood for Cargo (or Carrier (or Commercial) vehicle).    Several interpretations worldwide of the letter!   .

Antigua & Barbuda

March 17, 2012

A day visit by cruise ship to Antigua (St. Johns) on Feb. 3, 2012, rendered some new items of interest.

First, the original  Dealer (Motor Trader) plates had been changed a few years back, from red on white with Dealer initials and a low number (usually painted).                    ASM 3 is a 1981 example:

These changed to US-dimensioned,  pressed plates, thought to be in annually-varying colours, which showed the abbreviation  DL, followed by the initials of the Dealership (LR for Land Rover),  and then a serial number.

Antigua Dealer during the 2000s - Land Rover agency

2012 sees another Trade Plate change, with a complex all-silk-screened design, printed black, green and green on a white backgrounded US-size plate as shown below.   This dealer, Premier Motors,  has plates 1, 2 and 3 for their use.     This plate is un-drilled, as it is displayed loose from inside the vehicle, through the front or rear window.

Antigua/Barbuda  Dealer 2012 (annually issued)

In 2007, Antigua hosted a round of the World Cup Cricket series, and the authorities issued a batch of commemorative plates for the most important participants/ distinguished visitors.

I don’t think they remain valid for Antiguans to use, but this plate survived for the pleasure of  Europlate members!   (Update) CWC 028 was among those to pass through the Europlate Easter auction at Trezzo and is now in the hands of a keen collector.

Cricket World Cup Commemorative 2007.

Current government plates for senior people are in a very pleasing colour combination of green on dusky yellow.   Ministers have yet another series, without any legends, in yellow on royal blue, MP and a low serial.

Antigua Government personnel from 2000, pictured 2012.

Antigua Member of Parliament


None of the old AG prefix plates remain, though I did see one of each ‘P’ and ‘PA’ , which were subsequent issue, on scrapped cars.

Until 2000, when the new, US-style series began, Antigua often used a characteristic letter style, which helped to separate them from the identical  ‘P’  registrations issued by neighbouring islands in the West Indies and elsewhere.    They made up the digits with straight lines replacing the curves of numbers and letters.

Antigua Government vehicle, pre-2000, with stylised digits.

The smart annual tax disc for the country, below:

Antigua tax disc 2012

An excellent visit, where we found the Antiguans to be most hospitable and cheerful – and no grim looks when they see us photographing licence plates!     Members may know that we risk being arrested in many places these days, as we go for that  special shot!