Bhutan acquisition and rallying

February 24, 2017

Alastair C., a pal who enjoys rallying old cars in unusual places has caught the bug of plate-collecting, due to over-long exposure to your editor in bars and over dinner-tables.    In 2016 he returned from Bhutan having somehow persuaded someone to let him take one of their colourful plates home, which he presented to me at the Red Lion Inn at Coleshill, GB.


Bhutan Private .    2 =  Phuentsholing (Western region)


In 2009, he rode his Ducati(!) motorcycle to Senegal with some biker friends and collected a few mementos:

rim-97_4828-ae-00_masvb rim-97_6875-ae-00_cu_ac2009vb

wag-99_km-2820-a_cupl_ac2010vb wag-99comv_bjl-4027-c_cupl_ac2010vbMAURETANIA, SENEGAL and GAMBIA plates


I asked him how he transported them, on a motor-bike, from West Africa to Maidenhead, where he lives and keeps the dozen varying vehicle types with which he pursues his hobby of world motoring.    He replied, nonchalantly “Strapped ’em to me handlebars, old boy”.   Across the Sahara???    Past African border officials????    On a 2-wheeled, unstable conveyance????

Yes – well, I should have known better than to ask.

At present, that worthy has just finished the Haka Rally in New Zealand, for which he used his Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud – and that was with burma-rally-2014-alastair-caldwellhis (Kiwi) 99-year-old mother Dorothy, who frequently accompanies him as navigator (she is now in the Guinness Book of Records as the World’s Eldest Navigator).

The 2014 photo was taken in Mandalay by Australian friends visiting Burma and who saw Alastair’s Rolls parked-up during the lunch-hour, whilst he was on another rally!

Aussies Sue and Peter White took the photo to send to me for interest, and they  “spoke for a while with the owner”,  but no-one discovered that they had a mutual friend in England until I put 2 and 2 together weeks later, after receiving this picture!

Small world……


From a rally intended to take place in Cuba came this photo of repainted plates, which stallholders in Havana habitually prepare to sell to visitors as a memento of the island with The Worst Food In The World.     When the ship carrying the rally cars arrived at Port Havana, the authorities decided to blackmail the rally organisers by refusing entry for the cars unless an arbitrary and significant bribe was offered.    The organisers declined the invitation, by agreement with the  competitors and as a result, the containers full of rare cars never left the ship and were returned to Europe unopened.  The bankrupt country didn’t get either the bribe or the good deal of money which would have been spent by the rally crews.      They have much to learn.



< This period of Cuban plate is now over and every vehicle except some government and military departments have been obliged to re-plate with the new German-style below;

Cuban repainters usually change the colours.







Below: Black-on-white, Legible but rather dull new Cuban system, uses German dies.        1930s US Ford V8 tourer?c-2013_p-140-800_2015vb

A Little More Pemberton

November 13, 2013

The things John Pemberton saw in the 1940s and 1950s!     (We MAY have shown some of these in earlier Pemberton Posts…..)

OK for the reader to make the identifications?

A prompt response from Richard Mathers (EU871) is given in COMMENTS below

(F)(SN)(AOF)_7081 1.A_JPvb

7081 1.A   –   It is particularly odd that a British car – an Austin A40 Devon – should have been seen on French West Africa plates, as all French overseas territories were strongly wedded to cars and lorries of French manufacture.        Senegal became independent of France in 1960; this photo is estimated to have been taken in Britain during 1953, when the international identification letters for the whole territory were AOF – Afrique Occidentale Francaise. Our Austin boasts only a modest ‘F’.   Another oddity is the light background and dark digits of the plate, when normal plates were simple white on black.      At independence, a preceding ‘S’ was added to the zero or 1 codes which marked the Senegalese sector of AOF – where 1 represented Dakar.    (7081 S1.A)       Pemberton archive.

(CL 1947-8)_CY 3533_JP1951c

Ceylon‘s 1947-8 code CY adorns this American Mercury? Eight, photo’d in London, possibly in 1952.          NOTE: The CL international oval is of the large 300mm x 180mm (12 x 4.75″) specification, as determined by the early Conventions.            Pemberton archive



(EAT)_DSD 770_JPvb

DSD 770 – The Peugeot 203 was produced from 1948 to 1960.    DS = Dar-es-Salaam, the capital of Tanganyika, issued suffix D from Sept. 1950 to Jan. 1952.   Photographed in London in the early 1950s for the  Pemberton archive.         Note the unique style employed by the British East African territories of Tanganyika, Kenya and Uganda, in the use of brackets round the code letter for each of the three administrations – EA(T), (K) and (U)….    (Nyasaland is said to have been allocated EAN, but  there is no evidence of its use – unless YOU have a photo!)

(NP)_BT 2999_JPc1937

BT 2999 – 1930s Hillman Minx from Blantyre, Nyasaland.   Also using the massive 12″ I.I.P.            Pemberton 1940s archive

(ET2)(13-c56)_C 4463_JP1938vb

C Privé 4463 on a heavy US anonymous machine.    Is it a Packard??   From the 1913-1956 series, with C for Cairo.      Pemberton archive.

(GR)(cd)_DS 277 CD_JP1950s

DS 277 CD – Greek Diplomatic series from 1930s-1952 on a circa 1949 Morris Oxford in Oxford in 1950.       The DS, here translated from the Greek, abbreviates Diplomatikos Soma – or Diplomatic Body.   Though ‘CD’ was internationally accepted, there were no French usages in the home of Homer!       Pemberton archive

(IR)(oos)_T 26 4595_JP1947

T/26 4595  –  The Farsi/Dari area code letter and validity year/serial numerals of the Persian plates were changed to western characters only if the vehicle was to leave the country. This 26-dated T-Teheran out-of-state plate refers to the Persian year 1326, corresponding to our Gregorian calendar year which was from March 1947-March 1948.       The US car model is unidentified, the shot taken somewhere in England in 1948/9.      Pemberton archive

(IR)(oos)_T 26 4595_cu_JP1947


The red and white Flag plates of the Kuwaiti royal household, shot in London by John Pemberton on Aug. 6, 1956.    Plate 50 on a Cadillac

(MOC)_LM 7667_JPvb

LM 7667  –  Mozambique – Lorenzo Marques, which could have used the MOC oval, but was only seen with Portugal’s  P.         A Dodge Fluid-Drive, made from 1947-9, seen in London about 1950, before the dash separators became  standard for Portugal and its overseas possessions.          Pemberton archive c1950

French possessions in the 1940s

January 19, 2013

To see a car from Senegal, in Britain, in about 1950, would have been a big slice of luck.   Here is John Pemberton’s sighting, on an Austin A40 Devon car – unusual to find in a French territory.

Can Francoplaque help to explain why the plate is ‘dark on light’, perhaps, as we think all were white on black then?

Note that it carries the light-alloy ‘F’ ‘oval’ which was so common in early times.   As Senegal was not independent until 1960, this car could have carried an ‘AOF’ oval, is it was part of Afrique Occidentale Francai

a 1949 Austin Devon from Senegal, 7081 1.A
A 1949 Austin Devon from Senegal, French West Africa.  
7081 1.A   (1=Dakar)

1356 MA 15 in Oxford, 1940s/50s

Odd French diplomatic, 1940s-50s.

Odd French diplomatic, 1940s-50s.

This early VW also carries the alloy ‘F’ sign, because its plate is from the pre-1956 independence, French Moroccan series – 1356 MA  15.


And concluding this foray into interesting French series, John captured a CD of an unknown type to me, carried on a rare Austin A40 Sports, made predominantly for the USA.

(Or is the car carrying the wrong international oval??)

Francoplaque! M’aider, m’aider!