Unknown African and French IT plates

September 29, 2012

In the 1970s, a much-travelled pal of mine, Murray Bailey, photographed this yellow on green IT plate 008-IT-22, but he forgets where, only that it was in West Africa.       It may be Senegal, but confirmation welcomed!     What a shame the moped behind is not in full picture, to give us a clue…

Senegal – or elsewhere??

About 1963, I saw this American car in London, IT 0623.    It could have been from any of the overseas French territories of the period – but which??

IT=Importation Temporaire

Unidentified temporary Importation plate for a French territory-1960We used to think that all the green IT plates we  saw were French Diplomatics, and only learned much later that they were given out to any category of foreigner who was in a country temporarily (possibly with the vehicle let in without payment of import taxes).    Aid personnel and non-diplomatic embassy staff were among the groups registered so.

 

 

 

If they really were diplomats or consular officials, they would carry a separate oval plate or even have the letters CD or CC made into their IT plate.       (Were the French IT plates coded for the users’ country of origin, then

French Temporary Import of Diplomatic vehicle, in Paris, 1960s.    The zeroes probably indicate the ambassadorial car…  The boot/trunk  label on this American-made 1950s Ford Sedan tells us that this was a manual gearbox car with an optional overdrive, before automatic transmission became standard on all US cars.

A non-diplomatic temporary importation to France, in  1964 London, on a then-ubiquitous Renault 4L.

And finally, just for interest….

The R-R Silver Shadow of the British Ambassador in Paris 1970s.

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All the Same?

September 27, 2012

Is it just me, or is the influence of  Herr Utsch* and the computer slowly creating a homogeneous plate system?    Against the wishes of their voters, these countries have removed the regional codes and given new vehicles a soulless computerised tag, some of which are almost identical.

The ex-Soviet  ‘stans have other examples of lookalike plates, so thank goodness they all include the country codes within the new plates.

 

Here we compare current plates issued  by Italy, France, French Guiana and Albania.   No much difference, is there?

Italia

Italia

French Guiana

French Guiana

France

France

Albania

Albania

*  The German Utsch company has devised a popularly-received design-and-build licence-plate package for the many countries which are modernising their various national departments and systems, but which  know little about the complexities of modern motor vehicle registration.    The Utsch system donates a country such as Zimbabwe a plate-stamping machine and some rolls of alloy sheet which they ally with various colours of 3M adhesive nylon(?)  tape.    Subsequent shipments of the consumable metal and plastic have to be paid for, of course, and that is how Utsch eventually make some money from the idea.      I suspect that actually, the German government pay for the original machine and material for the first few plates, and give them by way of international aid to the recipient states.    

I hear that the privilege of supplying Zim with the new style replacement plates was given to Robert Mugabe’s sister, as a sure-fire way of her making loads of dough.    Every vehicle in the country had to change plates within six months, or very severe penalties ensued.     When she ran out of the sample sheets, she hadn’t kept enough pocket-money  to pay for the next supply of materials, and so the diktat that everybody must change plates by a certain date, melted away in the confusion which is Africa.       Later she must have borrowed some more money from someone – or came by some more aid from a generous donor – China is courting Zimbabwe for its minerals –  and the system has recommenced.

The thing I don’t understand is that Utsch must have made the system security watertight , so that for example, duplicates could not be made and sold under the counter.    That would not suit many – or most – of the world’s developing nations’  Transport Ministers and senior personnel.    Vehicle licencing has always been a marvellous cash cow for the head of department given the job – but ‘poor’ people are by necessity, exceedingly inventive, and can usually find a way to make a small profit, even from a highly efficient German scheme!

Incidentally, what a waste of the unfortunate citizens’ money, to force re-plating for no good reason……