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?



French Guiana

French Guiana





*  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……    

Tahiti Consular CC IT 4

October 25, 2011

Tahiti isn’t much seen outside the islands.   In 53 years, I have seen it twice in France and once in New Zealand, PLUS this very unusual Consular Corps version, un-noted in any official references to the islands’ plate systems.     This Volvo Amazon was captured by VB in London around 1962

and the cheerful owner advised that he was the Danish consul in Papeete.

I went over there in 2000 and square-searched Papeete for any remaining evidence of consular plates, but there were none – just regular registrations with  separate black on green ‘CC’ ovals.     And Air New Zealand wouldn’t give me my money back!

The typical  ‘TAHITI’  silver on red plate was carried at rear, used in the absence of a dedicated international oval, though officially, I suppose it should carry an ‘F’  oval.

(As should St. Pierre et Miquelon and Guiane etc. etc. etc.  but how dull that would be!)

Anyone else seen a Tahiti vehicle outside the islands?

Addendum Nov 2011:     Recent contact with the island motor bureau reveals that they are sure no such series has existed!     They are sure CC IT 4 is not from Tahiti!      (I wonder where that Dane is today?   He could fill us in….)

8011 A - This E-type Jaguar was seen in Auckland in 2002    Brumby archive

8011 A – This E-type Jaguar was seen in Auckland in 2002 Brumby archive


1250-P seen in Antibes during the 1980s, displaying the TAHITI alloy label often used when travelling abroad.     Brumby archive.

1250-P seen in Antibes during the 1980s, displaying the red TAHITI alloy label often used when travelling abroad.                     Brumby archive.