Singapore’s plates continue as shown in RPWO and a wide variety of colours and codes are enough to keep a keen spotter occupied for some long time. Two of the outer islands have been allocated their own plates – Sentosa and Ubin – and these cannot be used on the ‘mainland’ of Singapore. If they must go over there, for repairs etc., they will carry SGP trade plates for the journey.
Sentosa’s colourful plates have been known to us since about 1998.
This Vespa RU 1115 Y is one of few two-wheelers registered on Sentosa. Brumby archive 1987.
RU 2424 Z is the Restricted Use plate for Sentosa Island, a hundred metres off Singapore’s coast. Brumby archive 1987
The Sentosa Development Corporation, whatever that is, has a few buses, which are allowed on and off the islet, and have a special SDC code issued!
SDC 26 M is one of the island buses, registered on the ‘mainland’ . Brumby archive 1987
But we have only recently become aware of the special plate colour given to the few vehicles on Pulau Ubin (Ubin Island), which is a mile off the North-East coast of Singapore, by Changi airport. The island is lightly populated by fishermen and kampong farmers and has completely escaped the rapid advance to the six-star first-world status now enjoyed by the Republic of SGP. There are about ten mopeds on Ubin, of which half still work and about 15 minibuses, which carry the islanders and some of the weekend visitors along the narrow island roads to various camping sites and hiking/cycling trails, for which Ubin has become a popular, rat-race getaway.
The fourth motor vehicle registered on Ubin Island is a Honda moped, still in running order, PU 4 P. Brumby archive 2013
One travels to Ubin by bum-boat, for 3 ringgit ($1US) which takes fifteen people at a time on old vessels which you would not expect to be still in service, but which are the pride and joy of their rough-looking but friendly owners. Since registrations started on Ubin, perhaps in 2000, and originally only for a few small motorbikes which had previously run plateless, about 135 total registrations have been made, of which perhaps 15 to 20 remain in use. The system is that of the Singapore mainland, using the PU area code, a serial number (current highest 137) , and a check digit, all in white on a pea-green background.
One of the Ubin island minibuses, PU 102 P. Brumby archive 2013
PU 130 H is just six off the highest number on Pulau Ubin, the latest minibus seen, being PU 137. Note that all the plates are properly made, even though this island is quite primitive….
Brumby archive 2013
There are a few special purpose vehicles on Ubin, such as Police Land-Rovers and a couple of biggish lorries for construction jobs, and as these are there temporarily, they retain their normal Singaporean plates.
QX 5045 K is a standard Singapore police plate, coded by the special code QX. This is one of two allocated to Ubin island – surely an easy posting for the island coppers! Brumby archive 2013
The SGP government is sponsoring experimentation in clean/non-emission vehicles and has allocated a dedicated ‘Research and Development’ numberplate to the handful of cars being tested on the island.
A Renault experimental electric car RD 3073 K, one of two seen at the Renault distributor in SGP. April 2013. Brumby archive 2013
RD 6096 A is carried on a Mitsubishi minicar and has a 100km range, recharging 80% in 20 minutes. It says here. Brumby archive 2013.
There may be up to 50 vehicles on test, each of which is connected by wifi signal to a central office, in which its location, performance, battery-condition, range etc is transmitted every 5 seconds for analysis.
This category uses such high numbers that they must be split in some way, perhaps the first two or three numerals indicating a code for the few participating bodies in the experimentation. Certainly there are not more than a hundred of these low-emission category vehicles in the whole country, so 6096 seems optimistic….
It is of mild interest to note that Singapore vehicle owners can choose for themselves whether they plate their vehicles with the original silver/white on black plates, fore and aft, or Euro-style black on white (front) and yellow (rear). About 20% favour white on black, I estimate.
Light goods vehicle code G seen here with both plate colour options. Brumby archive 2013
TR – Singapore trailers are now up to TRE, having exhausted TR and TRA to TRD.
YM 942 S – Another unusual SGP variant is the recently-adopted orange background to distinguish lorries which carry hazardous cargo, such as fuel and chemicals. These cannot enter tunnels and need to advise police and fire when they plan to access certain zones of the island. The Y starter letter tells us that the truck exceeds 3 tonnes unladen; the M is serial. Brumby archive 2007.
SH – Taxis have progressed to SHA, SHB and now to SHC.
SHA 5376 H is the Singapore Hire code with suffix serial A, on a typically smart, clean, new car, a credit to the taxi fleets. Brumby archive 2013.
New private cars are up to SKJ, having jumped SH (kept for psv’s) and SI (‘I’ never used) and having presumably used up SJA-Z (though not seen).
Odd Chauffeur-drive/Private Hire possiblity.
We have believed that the special series for hire cars, SZ and SZA, had been long abandoned. But now we find SZA 8 R, from the current series, on a chauffeur-driven/livery Mercedes, outside the Copthorne Waterfront hotel. When questioned, the driver claimed it was just a standard plate issued alphabetically in the normal series, but we know that Singapore is nowhere near ‘SZ‘ in its alpha issue. So perhaps there are a few (note this is only car 8) special-category registrations continuing to use a version of the old SZ hire/rental prefix. (This was the only example seen.) Brumby archive 2013
Here is SZ (Singapore Rental-Hire) carried on a new Toyota in 1968, seen at Singapore docks. Brumby archive 1968
The only other SGP hirecar plate I ever saw was on this Vauxhall Victor, SZ 1779, also at the docks in 1968, alongside the Peugeot 4532 TT 25 which we drove back to Britain over four months. Brumby archive 1968
A very rare sight in Singapore is the semi-diplomatic plate allocated to foreign technical aid personnel. TE is the suffix code for these ‘Technical Expert’ vehicles and this BMW 525 example is coded 36 for the Philippines.
S 3682 TE is a semi-diplomatic plate for foreign Technical Experts personnel. 36 is used by the Philippine embassy. Brumby archive 2012
The Consular Corps variant is also hardly-seen, but Taiwan had code 66 in this category (photographed there in 1993, so possibly not current).
Taiwan’s foreign-mission code 66 seen on a Volvo 240, given Consular, rather than Diplomatic recognition, presumably due to pressure from PRC to sideline the Formosa territory they vainly hope to recover some day. Brumby archive 1993.
Motorcycles exhausted their two-letter FA-FZ prefix codes some time ago and current registrations, for every size of 2-wheeled bike, has re-started from FAA….. Note that, against the trend, SGP still requires a front plate to be displayed, either double-sided along the front mudguard or a forward-facing plate adhering to the faring.
Examples of motorbike front plate mounting positions. Brumby archive 2013
The current motorcycle format now uses two serial letters, the leading F, designating 2-wheelers. Brumby archive 2013
There is an auxiliary police force,it seems, but they use normal private m/c plates, as FBE 5246 A. Brumby archive 2013.
The author’s first visit to Singapore was in 1966, when the vast majority of the vehicles were made in Britain, from motorcycles to double-deckers. I still enjoy finding the leftovers from that period and recognise that many owners are very proud of their cars, which are now collectors’ items!
A well-restored MG TC(?) sporting the special, low-tax plates of the approved vintage and veteran cars and bikes in Singapore. SCL 69 D is a normal registration issue, and it is the plate colouring which gives the privileged status. Brumby archive 2008.
SS 9806. A plate from the former series. About 1960, many British Army, Navy and Air Force personnel served in Singapore and it was a period of very many new registrations, as most of them purchased a car there – (or duty-free at home, to take out and register there). This Austin A40 Farina belonged to a Wing-Commander, whose daughter June, modelling here, now dwells in Ottery St, Mary and makes jam for the Womens’ Institute. Brumby archive-June Harvey.
Finally, a photo which has materialised recently is certainly worth display. Here is Singapore’s eighth car looking as if it had just come off the ship from the Britton* motor factory in England. Unusually for a British territory, Singapore used a dash or dot separator from inception to the mid-1930s; S-8 favours the dash. The driver was known in those times, out east, as a syce – an archaic term for a horse-carriage driver/groom, which carried on into the age of the car.
*I can find no reference to the Britton marque after a quick search……..
S-8, a Britton, among the very first automobiles to reach the Straits Settlement of Singapore, in 1911. (No details seems to survive of this marque.) anon.
…and to conclude, another elegant car from another of the Straits Settlements, Penang no. 64n, the car of the Chief of Police there in the early 1910s. It may be a Stutz Bearcat. June Bennett