Southern Rhodesia to Zimbabwe
B 89 — is an early registration from Bulawayo on a Ford ‘T’, up-country!
B 13571 — The Fordson 10cwt. was the bumpiest ride you could get in 1952 – on good tarmac! In Rhodesia, it must have been known as The Dentist’s Friend.
S 19944 (SR) – A Morris Six outside City Hall in the capital, Salisbury, about 1952. These cars were more often badged as Wolseleys and those were the standard British police car of the era.
S 10307 (SR) – a Vauxhall 14, built 1939-46, also in Southern Rhodesia, about 1950. (anon)
Commercial vehicles in Southern Rhodesia used reversed shades on their plates – This Leyland Octopus carries B 11888 in a black on white plate, about 1951. This reverse was common in several British Commonwealth countries, though never used in Britain. Anon
These two plates were a bafflement at first, but are now agreed to be G 7877 at the front of the river ferry, on an English Jowett Javelin of about 1950 vintage, from Southern Rhodesia. where G=Gwelo. The (circa) 1952, Mark 1 Ford Zephyr behind, NK 64, is from Kitwe, Northern Rhodesia (in the 1929-63 registration series.) It is difficult to establish where this ferry was, even having checked with Old Rhodesia Hands!!
Picture courtesy of Old Classic Car.
S 36914 A Mark 7 (or 8?) Jaguar registered in Salisbury, Southern Rhodesia, now Harare, Zimbabwe, shot in the mid-1950s. In Jan. 1969, the S prefix was supplanted by RS (Rhodesia-Salisbury) and when reaching RS 9999, a serial letter commenced with RSA. Gwelo, Bulawayo and Umtali offices also registered enough vehicles to warrant the adoption of that third, serial letter – RGA, RBA, RUA. (anon)
The S. Rhodesian colonial government instituted a detailed system for registering state-owned vehicles, using a GT stacked prefix followed by a department code, in this case, PS for Police Service. After new Prime Minister Ian Smith announced the Unilateral Declaration of Independence in 1965, sanctions were applied and no more British vehicles would be supplied to the ‘breakaway’ regime. Any alternative supplier-nation which would break the sanctions was a welcome help – and plenty did. Thus the previously inconceivable prospect of a foreign brand in use by the administration of a British overseas territory was at an end and such as this Alfa Romeo Giulia G/T PS 174 could be seen in government service.
Formal independence to the breakaway régime was reluctantly granted by London in 1975, after which any nationality of vehicle was to be available in the new Zimbabwe. Brumby archive
DC 371. This is thought to be a Rhodesian District Commissioner plate, seen on a dumped Peugeot 504 at Kariba airfield in the 1990s. However, the French brand was unlikely to have been used during the colonial period, so this would have been bought by the UDI régime after 1965…….The 504, launched in 1968, was also built in Kenya and Nigeria , which could have been other sources for this car. Brumby archive
S 42605 (RSR). Quite a few Rhodesian cars visited Britain until the 1970’s. This Riley RM ‘One-and-a-Half) model was photographed in Earls Court, London, during the 1960s, wearing the new RSR oval which from 1960 to 1979, had replaced the original SR, applied since the 1920s.. Brumby archive
G 4210 (SR) – is another Riley RM, this one from Gwelo, seen in London in the 1950s. From the 1928-1970 registration series. (Pemberton archive)
Northern Rhodesia (now ZAMBIA)
N 5816 (NR) – This July 1947 shot in Northern Rhodesia depicts an American car which reader Karl identifies as a 1941 Buick.. Until 1947, N was the code for N’dola District, when NN became the new code (Flickr)
M 5 (RNR) — This lwb Land Rover had been driven from Rhodesia to London in 1962, with its low number, M 5, from the Fort Roseberry and Kawamba districts. 1938-60 was the duration of the (NR) international oval, then from 1960-65, (RNR), then (Z) was adopted, and is still in use today. Independence came to Zambia in 1964. Brumby archive
NRG was the code for the Northern Rhodesian Government and this is a rare, surviving picture of a the official plate on a police-operated Triumph motorcycle. (model?) (Anon)
EA 7936 and 8 — A pair of Triumph enthusiasts received almost consecutive numbers in 1960s Northern Rhodesia, shortly to become independent Zambia in 1964, under Kaunda who became its long-time dictator. Rather as Hitler and Amin were foreigners in the countries they led, Kenneth Kaunda was a Malawian. And a waste of space.
EK 4550 (Z) — Seen in London, but after 1965, because the RNR oval has been changed to the new Z code, signifying the new country name of Zambia. During 1964-75 the ‘EA, EK and ET’ prefixes marked the Western area including N’dola. Brumby archive 1973
EL 8218 (Z) From 1964 and independence, Zambian commercial vehicles have used red on white plates, as this Mercedes truck photo’d in Nairobi in 1976. Brumby archive
K 323 (NR) – For a fee, or if you know ‘Someone’, It is possible to request an old series registration to be re-issued; this Toyota pick-up is seen in South Africa in 1992. K had been the first letter used in Lusaka, in the late 1920s and early ’30s. Neither the font nor the colours are correct for the earlier period, however. (Brumby archive.)
A yet newer adoption of an earlier-series Central (Lusaka) registration is EU 1850, borne on a Bentley S3 from the ’60s. Code EU would first have been issued in the 1960s-75, using the British design of plate, in white on black, but has been re-issued using the 2000-and-on Zambian backplate and colouring.
K 2440 (NR) Here is the Northern Rhodesian code ‘K’ of the 1930’s period, seen borne on an American 1941-6 model Hudson (Karl) in London and photographed by John Pemberton just before or just after the war. Note the massive NR plate; such ovals’ dimensions were firmly set by international law! (Pemberton archive)
An early registrant in Broken Hill district was this 1930 Austin Seven BH 648.
NK 6749 is carried by a Daimler Conquest Century, an unusual car for Africa, one surmises. These used preselector gearboxes – and lots of interior walnut trim! Note the AA badge, surmounted by the name of the country in which it was a member. Such badges are now extremely rare. NK=one of the codes for Kitwe. (anon)
22 CD 6Z — At independence in 1964, diplomatic recognition became the responsibility of the new Zambia government. By 1992 when this shot was taken in South Africa, Botswana (embassy code 22) seemed to have six cars registered at the Zambian capital. Brumby archive.
From 2000, Zambian (Z) plates are long or square and use LLL NNNN format with a national symbol. Reflective white, front and rear. Like many countries, their plate system is designed and implemented by a German specialist company, Utsch. The white front plates are similar to those of neighbouring Zimbabwe – see next…… Brumby archive
ACJ 2956 — (ZW) – The 2006> Zim series. It uses a different font to the Zambian and a similar, though different, symbol and is yellow, front and rear.
Detail of the current Zambia symbol