The Making of the RPWO Historic Archive

November 26, 2019

TEHA website

Below is a typical page from our collection of 1920s-1970s albums created by that pioneer collector, Hollander Karel Stoel.         There are thousands of such pages!

About half  have now been dismantled into single images* and catalogued for easy access and comparison for future students of the historic plates period.       Naturally, most of the typescript in the albums is in Dutch;  maybe one day some English translations could be added.        This is one of the USSR pages:

These pictures* are all part of the big Europlate Historic Archive, which is now at about the half-way point to completion.    The period covered is from the first registrations up to the late 1970s.     The photos and press-cuttings from which it is derived have been edited and sized with modern digital techniques and given explanatory titles which give the reader the

International circulation code for the country of origin, and –
the state, area or city therein,
the period during which that series was issued and
the exact year of this example if it can be divined,
the purpose for which the vehicle was licenced to operate,  (by default, standard/private plates are not marked, as they are the most common),
the registration,
the plate colours where we thought they were needed,
the make of vehicle if known,
the place and time of image capture,
the identification of the image owner and
the last editor of the image.

Plus any other info of interest – so – quite long file-names – but it should save us all constantly looking-up details later.

18-month’s work has been done in the archive to date (2017)and great care taken to identify all these old registrations accurately.        But there will have been many errors and the editors will be pleased to receive amendments and additional info from you all.

The website ‘key’ is now available to all current EUROPLATE members and the site remains accessible to you while you remain a subscriber.   It is now re-named – and Blog members will find it by clicking on: 


TEHA website

There are 18,273 images so far, in 517 folders, and taking 14.8 Gigabytes of space on Dropbox (2017).     You do not have to subscribe to Dropbox – the key above gives you full access to VIEW it – but if you wished to download it for any reason, you would need considerable memory capacity in your computer (at least 16Gb.), or you would subscribe to a ‘Cloud’ memory system, such as Dropbox or Google.     Most members will be happy to VIEW only, on demand.    Saving the link as a shortcut on your desktop could be a good idea……..

We sure hope you enjoy it – it contains plate types we have only read of, and of types never previously known to exist, so it should amuse!

Just leave a message here on the Blog, if you would like to make observations of any sort.

Or email Vic Brumby on

VWB  Eu0038

The Europlate Historic Archive – your access….

November 25, 2019

Click here to visit 40,000 pre-1980 plate pics.

TEHA website


January 9, 2019

This special-issue plate was spotted on Tortola, BVI, on Christmas Eve 2018, by Eu871.      It commemorates the 90th  birthday of the Queen.   Plate no. 9.

Four were spotted touring the island – uncommon sightings, although some had serial numbers of up to four digits, presumably according to the preference of the user, who paid a surcharge for the variant.

It had not been recorded on RPWO as of  Feb 2019.    Must remedy that……

Thanks to member Richard Mathers, Eu871

His other shots below show  current and former series:

Unknown Bosnia Herzegowina

October 15, 2018

Does anyone know what that plate was used for ? It is now in my collection.BiH

Trade Plates – Dealers, SGP, EAZ & ADN

August 24, 2018
revised 201808242048

The wondrous contents of the Stoel albums reveal plate types previously both unknown and not illustrated – and for those of you who haven’t yet opened up your member’s exclusive link to the (click)

TEHA website

the Blog brings you a few of the extraordinary images which Karel Stoel amassed over 50 years.    This August 2018 Blog page refers to some unusual Trade Plates and related specials…..

(EAZ 49c)(dlr)_1_(r.w)_MorrisMO.vbKS copy

Previously unknown, a dealer plate on British Zanzibar in circa 1949 has a large number ‘1’ probably in red on a white ground, as it awaits its normal plates. RPWO archive

(EAZ 49c)(dlr)_1_cf_(r.w)_MorrisMO.vbKS copy

The Zanzibar Dealer 1 close-up.

And while we’re in Zanzibar…….

(EAZ 50s-60s)(gv)_ZG 316_AustinJ2van.vbKS

(EAZ)  —  ZG 316 – Zanzibar Govt. – Who knew that the Zanzibar Government had its own issue?    ZG 316 is inspected by the army in the 1960s.   It’s on a Morris J4  minibus, surely an unsatisfactory model for the tough conditions of that unpaved island….


(ADN 50s)(dlr)_GEN 24_Hill.Minx.abgKS copy

(ADN)–GEN 24 —  About 1951, a new Minx awaits permanent registration as it is collected from the docks in transit to the Hillman dealer.     We can guess that the plates are white on red, in the GB style. and that the ‘GEN’ abbreviates General (use), one of two dealer plate types used in Britain, the other being the Limited (use) type, which was red on white.

(ADN 50s)(dlr)_GEN 3_c_MMinor.csKS(ADN)–GEN 3 — A second example of that hitherto-unknown Aden plate type is seen on a Morris Oxford MO, sporting GEN 3.     Note the wide panel to accommodate the numberplate, pressed in to the boot panel, a feature formerly unknown to The Blog.   (export spec, mayhap?)

And another rarity from Aden … a taxi

(ADN 60-63)(taxi)_L 5943_(b.w)_abgKS

(ADN)  —  L 5943  Reverse colours of black on white differentiated the taxi plates of Aden Colony from civilian white on black; this is the only known photo.   L 5943 dates from 1960-63 amd is on an Opel.                                                                        TEHA2

and, below, an Aden QUIZ picture…help!

(ADN)(cc 62-UK)_CC 23  (ADN)  —  CC 23 ADN –  Has anyone any information on this Consular Corps series from the ’60’-70s?     Never reported, nor otherwise illustrated.     Yet this is CC issue 23, so there must have been consulates for more than one country in what was then a British colony and protectorate………



(SGP)(dlr 50s-80s)_108 S_comp_(s.y)_Mazda.SGP)(dlr docks1966VB

(SGP)   108 S  —  Singapore trade plates used the scarcely-legible silver-on light yellow colouring until the 1980s, when the background changed to blue.   

In 1968, a new Mazda awaits collection from the wharf, as one of the early Japanese cars to come to the island, where all Nipponese brands met with great success in the forthcoming years.  

And also from Singapore, but long before…..1904:

(SGP 04-49c,04c)_S-1_Oz1904blogVB

(SS) — S 1 Straits Settlements. Now we have unearthed the picture of Singapore’s first registration, from a history published by ‘Singapore Tatler‘ and given as 1904.              Lady Annie Dare’s 2-cylinder Star car, which she named ‘Ichiban’, but which was called ‘The Devil Wind Carriage’ by the astonished native people, was driven all over the Malay Peninsular and Java, before being returned to England and Scotland in later years.

That’s all for now – more to be added later.   

Any comments are appreciated.    They indicate that someone reads these missives!   VB

Remember to click:

TEHA website

DON’T DOWNLOAD IT – its 28 Gigabytes!    Just VIEW it.   

No Costs,   No use of your memory, and the daily changes will show up seconds after they are made, so you will always be up-to-date!    DON’T DOWNLOAD unless you have a massive spare memory available – and remember – if you DO, that  your own download won’t receive the rolling updates/amendments……..

psssst –  Here’s another new discovery – Bahrein Dealer c 1950.   Austin A40 Sports (an export model made 1949-53).   1851 in arabic only.

(BRN 50c)(maybe dealer)_1851_(w.r m)_AustinA40Sports_c_vbKS


July 20, 2018


(NL) KM-73-20  —  Dutch Sint Maarten has a few Royal Netherlands Navy vehicles in service.    This pick-up/ute/bakke was seen by Philipsburg dock in 2016.     We assume the military plates which go abroad are not specially coded.   (Koninklijke Marine)                                                  Brumby archive.



(F)  224 WAL 24  —  Also at the dockside  there but destined for FRENCH St. Martin was a heavy truck using French temporary exit plates from the 1990s(?)

(F)  224 WAL 24


(PAK) PALITANA 1  —  Prince Shiv of Palitana was a lively socialite in the London scene in 1955.       His new, scarlet Ford Thunderbird was photographed by the Daily Mail newspaper and three nascent plate-spotters jumped on a train from the English midlands, to search for the subject of this photo.      And we found it, in Berkeley Square!

Neither Terry Gray, Ivan Thornley nor the Blog  had a camera in those times and in the intervening 63 years, notebooks lost, we have wondered if we had dreamed it all, as we had no evidence – until a modern web search found the very shot.

Silver-on-red plates, as was the way with the Indian (and later, Pakistani) royal households’ plate style.



(GH)  GR 1000 E  —  Guy Lewis, stringer for the Blog ,spent a year in Nigeria in 2017 masquerading as an international banking plenipotentiary, and captured this Jaguar E-Type which had made its way over from Ghana – a rare sight in either country, one would think.

There was never anywhere to mount a front plate on an E-Type, so some enlightened countries permitted an adhesive Fablon format, which didn’t disfigure the aesthetics of that beautiful car.     Ghana seems to have become such a kindly place.

GR 1000 E

G 1000 E


(USA)  T-687  ==  Jim Fox Eu 0095 is extending his deep historical researches in to US state and federal government-issued plates           (Fox archive)

Jim – would you care to fill us in with the background of this very unusual issue?     (Responses below.)

US/FWA   T-687



This looks suspiciously like Karel Stoel’s 1940s bedroom and perhaps his mother wondering how best to tidy it up!

Later the whole collection went on public display at a small transport museum in Holland.    In the 1960s, the museum had to close BUT the plates were, we believe, saved in the nick of time.    Who has the story?

STOEL  ==  Many of these classic, obsolete plates have found their way in to modern collections, fortunately.    If YOU have one or more, why not send in the current picture, for us all to share your pleasure?    (What’s the R/I X 5154???)


BN 1627  ==  When this picture first came to light in the Stoel albums which were acquired from careful long-term storage by Europlate in 2016, we defined it as a Libyan Benghazi plate of a previously unrecorded format.      Later, we came to recognise it as an Anglo-Egyptian Sudan issue from the Blue Nile registration office.        Wonders will never cease!

Fortunately, THESE wonders didn’t come singly.     Another four evocative shots from Sudan, pre-independence.

(ET)  BN 1089  —  Blue Nile province on a Morris Minor (sidevalve) convertible, suspected 1949, is shot in London.

K 4206 —  Khartoum, Sudan 1920s-58 series.

c.1947 Vauxhall HIX-type 12hp


(ET)  E 1100  —  and this 1950s Morris-Commercial LD5 minibus was registered in Equatoria Province of Anglo-Egyptian Sudan.========================

(ET)  K.35  —  Hard to believe, but this enamelled 1920s Khartoum Dealer plate survives in a collection somewhere………


Khartoum 4KH 22477  —  And, though this is predominantly a Historic plate site, as the Blog got a shot of a current-issue  Sudani in Ethiopia in 2017, we might as well display it.     It’s a poor shot, because I was being arrested during the filming – apparently tourists cannot take pictures in Addis Ababa…..



For more plate photos, be sure to visit The Europlate Historic Archive:

TEHA website

An Italian United Nations curiosity-(completed)

July 18, 2018

(I)(dlr-mil 51-74).Forli_EI Prova FO 594_(g,r,b.w)(Mission in Lebanon 1982)_Fiat Campagnola.vbTG

Lapsed Member Terry Gray shot this Fiat Campagnola jeep in Italy(?) in the early 1980s.   (I) Dealer plates were always red and white on black, so this white example has long festered as a mystery in one’s mind.       So this week, July 2018, VB forwarded the image to specialist Marcello Gallina in Italy, to ask his advice:

(I)(dlr-mil 51-74).Forli_EI Prova FO 594_cu_(g,r,b.w)(Mission in Lebanon 1982)_Fiat Campagnola.vbTG
Hello, Marcello –
Please, is this a Dealer plate/Manufacturers’ plate/test drive plate from the 1950s-74 series or the ’74-82 series?
(Strange colouring!)
Hello Vic.
Yes, this plate is from the Military Dealer series, issued between 1951-1984.
The jeep is an Italian Army vehicle (Fiat Campagnola).    The white colour means that it is allocated to be sent to Lebanon for the Italian mission (1982).
There were known two early types of Italian Army trade plates.  They were a white variant of the regular  black dealer plates.
Old type, triangular shape. 
New type, as in picture,  square,  PROVA must be preceded by EI in green, maybe adhesive letters are gone.
(In 1984,, a new series came into use:  EI * p 0123. (EI red, green star, little p green, black digits  on white) 
Best regards,

Hi Cedric

Marcello has identified a Italian military dealer among our TEHA2 photos, and it has a Middle-East link, so I think you could be interested!


Cedric responds:
Indeed, it is of interest and is a piece of UN history that is not mentioned in RPWO at all (and I certainly new nothing about). The peacekeeping force (Multi National Force (MNF)), according to Wikipedia, only existed from 1982 to 1984 and was totally separate from UNIFIL as a 4 nation only force.
“The four-nation MNF was created as an interposition force meant to oversee the peaceful withdrawal of the Palestine Liberation Organization.[5] The participants included the U.S. Multinational Force (USMNF), which consisted of four different Marine Amphibious Units (MAUs); British 1st Dragoon Guards cavalry regiment; the 1st inter-arm Foreign and French Brigade, 4 Foreign Legion Regiments, 28 French Armed Forces regiments including French and Foreign paratroopers, units of the National Gendarmerie, Italian paratroopers from the Folgore Brigadeinfantry units from the Bersaglieri regiments and Marines of the San Marco Regiment. Additionally, the MNF was in charge of training various units of the Lebanese Armed Forces.[6]

The relatively benign environment at the beginning of the mission gave way to chaos as the civil war re-escalated following the assassination of President-elect Bashir Gemayel in September 1982. Subsequent political and military developments on the ground caused the MNF to be viewed not as a peacekeeper, but as a belligerent.[7] In early 1984, after it became apparent that the government of Lebanon was no longer able to impose its will on warring factions as they entered Beirut and hostilities renewed,[7] the MNF ended its presence mission in Beirut and went offshore before completely leaving Lebanon in July of the same year in the aftermath of the October 1983 barracks bombing that killed 241 U.S. and 58 French servicemen.[8] It was replaced by the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) already present in Lebanon since 1978 under the leadership of Ghanaian Lieutenant General Emmanuel Erskine.”




So we see here again how the sharing of our images and knowledge in the Club develops our understanding of this quite complex hobby.    Fresh from a 46-year-old photo now comes  info on a system we had not known existed.     Magnificent!    Thank you, Marcello and Cedric……..

Netherlands Indies-Schouten Islands

July 10, 2018

((NGN BIAK-MAP Schouten_Islands_(IN)_Topography

G 255 (IN)

Karel Stoel brings us more treats with this amazingly obscure island plate from BIAK, a distant Dutch outpost in the South Pacific Sea, North of Papua-New Guinea island.    Until lost from The Dutch Netherlands New Guinea territories in the early 1960s, code G was issued between 1950-59 and was the only NGN single-letter code.   (Could there have been as many as 255 registered vehicles on that spot of remote land?)

This is the only picture known to exist of that G series, depicted on an Auto-Union-DKW 1000 Sonderklasse F91,  an advanced German car of the period 1953-58.

(NGN 50-59)(Biak Is.)_G 255_f_(

(NGN 50-59)(Biak Is.)_G 255_CU_(

The more usual (??) issue of the 1950-59 Papua/Hollandia (now Jayapura)  plates, used the NG prefix and leading zeroes, probably on the white/Prussian Blue plates of mainland Holland.    This VW Beetle NG-04 is certainly using the Dutch dies AND as it carries the NGN international Identification oval, it would seem to have been photographed in Holland, having returned from service in the Papua territory.      Few people still living ever saw such a plate!

(NGN 50-59).Hollandia_NG 04_(NGN oval)_Beetle.plKS

(RI)(exp 37-50c)(IN)_X-451_(w.b)(IN oval)_plKS

X- 451 (IN)

Further west, in Netherlands Indonesia, those who returned their cars to Europe at the end of their work tour. were given a temporary plate with an X prefix, for the first many years in white on black, and later in black on white.     They almost always carried the regulation oval and it is thought many came back to Holland and tickled Stoel’s fancy.

(RI)(exp 37-50c)(IN)_X-554_(b.w)(IN oval)_Fiat500.plKS

Several pictures of the microcar Fiat 500 Topolino/Mouse exist showing us Indonesian plates.  Wholly unsuitable for the rugged conditions, one would have thought – but probably very cheap indeed, so a few sales were guaranteed.    X 554 is an example of the white version of the exit plate issued to vehicles leaving permanently from Dutch Indonesia.


There is confusion over the systems in use in NGN.    The 1950-59 series above was issued concurrently, it seems with another, below, using a prefix letter for the year (M=1955, N=56, O-57, P-58, R=59, S-60, T-61 and U=62.)    Then followed a suffix for the vehicle type – where A coded motorcycles,  B coded cars, c, lorries, D, buses and F, moped-scooters.       The serial number indicated the issuing offices, which were allocated batches of numbers.

These two types are said to have been issued (but partly overlapping?) between 1953 & 63.    Who knows anything which could clarify this matter?       

Unknown plate – still! (11/2019)(16/06/2020)

June 25, 2018

Does anyone know where this plate comes from ? The car was photographed in Bochum (Germany).

Undiscovered series from the past

April 13, 2018

update 3                   7/04/17

Predominantly from the camera or the scissors of the pre-war collector Karel Stoel, plate types previously unknown, and/or known but un-photographed, have come to light.    There are too many new finds to list them all in the Blog – which makes careful scrutiny of our Club Historic Archive so interesting – but here we choose a few at random to give the reader a taste:

(UAE-Dub) – TEST 109  —  Thought to be the first series of Dealer plates in Dubai, starting 1964.        Subaru 360 minicar.     Taken  c.1969 by our stringer Murray Bailey down by the old camel park, where the Hilton now is.                                        (Brumby archive)

(NL-Utrecht q-51)_LZ-319_Austin fire tender.vbNL164bKS

(NL) LZ 319  —  Utrecht province is not listed as having issued its code L with a suffix, if and when it reached L-99999.    So LZ-319 is a puzzle, shot in 1940s Holland, but could it possibly be an early number from such a continuation series which started and soon stopped, when the 1951 series LL-NN-NN took over?      We know that North- and South- Holland provinces G & H used the continuation suffixes Z, and then X; so maybe Utrecht just squeezed in a run of LZ – Dutch boffins to the rescue, please!

Its an Austin K van often supplied as a very basic fire tender post-war.

(NL)(mil 44-45 CNF)_M-5845586 + CNF 1_Jeep.vbNL200bKS

During the mopping-up months after September 1944 as Holland returned to peace, the office of the Commander of the Netherlands Forces carried a second plate, usually painted or stencilled, with the code CNF.

Is this Jeep’s main military registration M 5845586 on the hood/bonnet from the US or GB issues?   Both countries’ military systems used 6 and 7-numeral serials following M, whereas Holland used M and no more than five numerals.

(NL)(mil 44-45)_CNF=Commander, NL Forces_M-B.vbNL196bKS

(NL) CNF  —  No normal Dutch plate showing on the Prince’s CNF Mercedes coupé of unknown model. but a grand car probably kept somewhere safe during the ‘unpleasantness’ and then liberated.     Or a gift from a departing German visitor……

q(NL)(mil q)_C 4525_(l.d)_Austin Ten.vbNL196bKS

(?)   C – 2545  —  No Idea.   The only clue to this C-prefixed plate filed among the Dutch military is that C was used on some Australian army cars in the immediate post-war period.    Who knows?     Looks like an Austin Eight or Ten.     

(GBG 03-07)(dlr-limited)_Z 3 + 5687_r_Standard14 m.vbGBG8aKS

Similarly, a Standard 14 uses Limited Trade plates whilst waiting to re-tax Guernsey 5687.

(GBG)  —  Z 3  —  A little-photographed shot of Guernsey’s Dealer ‘Z’ series.                             A Standard 14?

(GBG 03~)(timp)_V 5 + 261LMT_mc.vbGBG7bKS

(GBG) V 5  —  A motorcyclist from the mainland (Middlesex) carries his long-stay Guernsey Visitor plate V 5, in black on yellow.

(GBG 03~)(Lt.-Gvr)_G 2_f_Standard 10.vbGBG9aKS

Possibly the Lt.-Governor’s wife, carrying G 2 on a Standard 10 estate car.

(GBG)  —  G 2                G is not normally used in Guernsey.    Special Issue.        This van-conversion Standard 10 estate car was called a Companion.

(ROU)(off 50c)_A-403(ambulance m)_(r.w)(U oval)_FordCustomSedan.vbU167KS

(ROU 40s) – A + 4-03  —  Perhaps a doctor in post-war Montevideo?    An unlisted format, almost certainly light blue on white, as were many official Uruguayan plates.   Is this a circa 1948 Ford?   It’s a 1949 (US) Ford, David Wilson assures us!

(F)(NewCaledonia 50s)(dlr)_E 50_(Essai)_FiatMultipla.vbKS

(F)  French Oceania  —  Never previously suspected, E 50 is evidence of  1950’s New Caledonia’s having a Dealer type, this one on a new Fiat Multipla, fresh from the hold of MV Polynesie.

E=Essai=Trial/Test – Demonstration.    ?Perhaps this was for Dealer 5 and the zero is the first of a number of  Trade Plates he was entitled to use?    There could not have been 50 dealers, surely?

(F)(prov-off).national_WW D 5805_Peu.203.vb162KS

(F)  5805 WW D  —  A French new-vehicle ex-factory delivery plate with a difference.    Instead of the usual numeric départment code following WW, the letter D tells that the vehicle is being delivered to a branch of government in any part of the country.      Peugeot 203.

(DZ)(timp 51-54,53-F).Algeria_32 TT 3ZZ f_negs_AustinA40.jfvbKS

(F  32-53) – 32 TT 3 ZZ  —  (silver on red)   Noted in Francoplaque’s most detailed website, but not illustrated, there, or anywhere else, we believe, is this 1934-?  Transit Temporaire showing 3 to date its 1953 issue and ZZ (or Z)  for French Algeria.     RPWO gives it that serial numbers 1-3999 were allocated to Algiers, 4000-6999 to Oran and 7000-9999 to Constantine.       If Algiers had reached only  32 between 1934 and  1953, we may assume that those big allocations were optimistic!

Concerning the car, an Austin A40 Somerset or Devon (or Dorset), it was always extremely odd to see a British marque circulating in a French territory.   Perhaps this was a UK citizen in Algeria on a special mission.     Maybe  James Bond on his first assignment, even.

(CS 45-53).Prague(UNRRA 43-45)_P-1383 (+AA161)_(b.w)_4wd.vbCS23bKS

(CS)  —  P-1323 is a strangely low number for a c.1945-6 Prague registration, painted on to an imported US Jeep by the UNRRA   sic

United Nations’ Refugee Relief and Rehabilitation Administration 

which operated from 1945-47, thus helping to date this photo.    The additional plate AA 161 is not understood and theories are requested.

q(Rus-SU 15-q)_24_(w.b)_1915photo.anonVB

(R)   24  —  Before the revolution, Russia had no national registration system, and each area/town licenced the very few local vehicles in varying ways.   Member Rein Veldi advises us that this Benz is actually carrying a plate issued in Chisinau, Moldova (then Bessarabia), which the car used to complete an overland expedition to Moscow – a heroic feat in times without roads between towns.

The few extant pictures of pre-1917-and-later Russian vehicles are all-numeric and often black on white, like Lenin (the worker’s hero) carried on his proletarian Rolls-Royce 236  below.

(TO 60s-80s)(trac)_G271_comp_2005VB(Tonga)  G 271  —  Your forthcoming visit to any jungly garden in Nuku’alofa on Tongatapu should throw up an old agricultural tractor, awaiting spares or the enthusiasm to get it working again.    The G-prefix was used for agric. vehicles from the 1960s until the 1980s, but is no longer.     Another item for the history books.

(GB)(timp 31-49)(RAC 48c)_QC 8825_(+Tangiers)_Standard 14.vbJP(MT)  T-4145  —  Tangiers was an international Zone in Morocco between 1924-1956 and issued its own plates, mostly manufactured in the British style and size.    Only the private T-series was officially known, such as carried on this British Standard 14 below.

Here, the car has been brought back to Britain and been given QC temporary-import plates at the port of entry, as Tangiers probably wasn’t a member of the Go-Anywhere Club.     The QC code was issued by the Royal Automobile Association from 1931 to 1949 and 8825 is probably from 1948.

T.W.1  —  Mr. Stoel, however, has passed us an image of a Morris Minor Tourer  at Christmas 1952, driving by a crowd of schoolchildren in the city.     Amazingly (to the writer, anyway) it bears a French-influenced Dealer plate, in which one  W letter-code is supplemented by a T, giving us T-angers/W-dealer/1 and the 1952 year of validity.

Tangiers Dealer – who ever thought they’d see one of those?????

(D 07-50)(temp).Prussia_31205_UScar.vbKS

(D)  31205  __  Germany had used a special oval plate for visitors’ vehicles since 1907 and ran it through to 1950, when the new ‘Z-plates’ (Zoll=Customs) replaced them.     They were mostly used by visitors from the USA, because the US government had not participated in the international agreement on trans-border traffic which allowed entry without carnet and plate-change.    This meant that when a US citizen wished to ship his car to Europe for work or leisure, he must obtain some local plates  to entitle him to circulate in Europe.    Each European country had a system by which a temporary importation could be plated.        The serial numbers of these German oval timp plates were batch-identified to the city of issue; here, 31 coded Hamburg, the great port.

(RI)(cc honcon 62-77).Jakarta_B.7178 K CC_comp_mb1970sVB

(RI) –  B.7178 K CC  —  Indonesia continued the plate system introduced by the Dutch during their tenure of the archipelago.

Consular Corps personnel used normal plates (B=Batavia=Jakarta, in this case) with an added red on white CC following.   This Beetle is outside the Djakarta Hilton circa 1970 – before the current, (flimsy) pressed-alloy plates with slim lettering started in 1977.


PK 68, 140, 1184 & 1784  —  Some Malayan states had their own early 2-letter codes between 1906 and 1948, when a unified system started, using single letter codes.     Perak State was given ‘A‘ and all the previously ‘PK‘ -registered vehicles had to replaced their plates, even pictures of which are now very rare.    However, in this shot, we see four of that long-lost Malay format.

At that time, Ipoh, the main town of Perak state, was the centre of the rubber and tin industries and boasted a higher population than the capital town, Kuala Lumpur (which means ‘muddy estuary’).   Thus there were plenty of prosperous motorists and their car-clubs, as depicted here.                                                           (Douglas Fox archive)


(BUR) –  RD 1802  —  Burma’s independence from Britain in 1947 permitted foreign legations to open, mostly in Rangoon.    Embassy staffers used normal plates (RA/RB/RC to RD) with Latin cyphers, supplemented by a CD oval which included the Burmese script for CD.    This Packard Clipper is thought to be from 1948.  DW corrects this to a 1951 model.   In 1953 to 1958 the plates all changed to Burmese script only, the diplomats still mounting the separate CD oval.


Zephyr Six

(-)  EG 75  —  Eritrea Government plate captured on  a c.1951 Ford Zephyr Six.    Another Ultimate Rarity!


(AOF) –   M 43  —  The first and only known picture of an early French-era registration in modern Mauritania, when it was the colony of French Sudan in Afrique Occidentale Français and would have used the international oval AOF.     (the oval never pictured – nor AEF!)


(F)  CC IT 4  —  This Volvo was photo’d in London in the 1960s and the owner, whom we interviewed, was a Dane living in Tahiti.    It is not thought that French Polynesia had a consular series at that time, and recent visits have confirmed that there is still no such thing – but here is evidence that something did exist – perhaps an Honorary Consul….    Yet the plate itself is made up in exactly the correct form, as if it had been ordered from Paris!

(F)(Tah)(cc 60s)_CC IT 4_compr_wee_London.c1962.VB

(Ray King had a photo of IT 1459, identified as a Foreign Resident , maybe from the 1960s.)                                                                                                        Ray King archive

(F)(Tahiti)(for.res 60s)_IT 1459_(b.g)_press_vbRK


(YU)  —  Thought to be from the little-seen 1956-61 Yugoslav diplomatic series, CD-70-20 was spotted in London circa 1962 on an MGA sports.    Recalled as black on white, with red star before the embassy code 70.            Are there any others pics of this period series?                                                                                       (VB archive)

TEHA website


(AOF) 42-1-CD  —  On a rare Austin A40 Sport, made for the US export market and based on the Austin A30 pan, with body by Jensen Motors, we finally devined that a confusing series of black-on-green CDs with a ‘1‘ anywhere within the plate, were from Senegal.    Plates’ formats varied, sometimes using IT, sometimes CD (even one with neither, 29-1) , and with the ‘1‘ in any position along the plate, plus some serials with leading zeros.      Eventually, our amalgamated collections’ dozen different pictures were recognised to be from the common source of Dakar, the diplomatic centre of French West Africa in the 1950s.

TEHA website

(BW 24-50s)(BPmaybe)_B 141_Gweta Botswana_RPW_resize

B 141 is said to be the original series for Bechuanaland – but the jury is still out.    What is it?    Picture taken in Botswana’s bundu recently.     It’s a Dodge.

PHS 23-1ADN 223 (ADN 60s_BL)

(ADN)  PHS 26  —  Pre-independence Aden used the code 1 preceding the registration, to indicate government/official vehicles    But what is the meaning of the Land Rover’s second plate reading PHS 26?

(ME dd-56)-7689_AG

(ME)  ME-7689  —  Spanish Morocco only stopped issuing its own plates in 1956, having begun in 1922.    It had its own oval, (ME), but no picture exists of that oval.         How many members are old enough to have seen these in circulation?     These girls are proud of their 1951-DW Studebaker Commodore.

TEHA website

(AN 55-96)_ATE 01-69_comp_VB1958

(PAN)   ATE-01-69  —  was an exciting find in 1958 London, though I had no idea it was Angolan until I obtained Keith Marvin’s seminal book a few years later.    We have never been able to divine the ‘TE’ code and a web-search for settlements in that benighted country beginning with T or TE, gives no clues.   The handsome wagon is a Borgward Isabella. Thank goodness for that early camera – and an unaccustomedly steady hand that day!    I never saw another Angola (in Britain) again.          Note London’s traffic in the 1950s.


Another Austin, an A40 model, retired to an outdoor museum in Kota Kinabulu, Sabah, but sporting 1960s plates from Labuan Island.

L 567  —  There are none of the old ‘L’ plates still in Labuan island, but fortunately the museum in Kota Kinabulu, ex-Jesselton, saved this 60’s Austin A40 Farina and gives us a glimpse of the Labuan plate format from 1905 to c1963.   The very few cars which might have left the island in that 60-year period, would have carried changing international ovals as the status of the island changed: 1906-46=Straits Settlements (SS), 1946-59=North Borneo Colony, then N.B. State (CNB,SNB), then maybe a 60s period using (FM) & (PTM), then 1963-current, Malaysia(MAL).

The A40 Farina was manufactured between 1958 and 1967 – in AUS, MEX, ZA and NL as well as in England.

TEHA website

(IR)(cd 41-52)(oos).Tehran_T 58-CD_r_(r.w)_('Political' oval)_Sunbeam-Talbot.csKS

(IR) T 58 CD  —   The stuff of dreams!     A  1940s picture of a (thought-to-be) 1939 Sunbeam-Talbot 3-litre 6-light Sports Saloon (also badged Hillman Hawk) working from the British embassy in Teheran.    The left-mounted oval reads ‘Political Staff’,  the Farsi way to convey ‘Corps Diplomatique’.    The serials were probably not embassy-coded in those times.   

But there were legation offices in other big centres and the rarest diplomatic shot which Mr. Stoel’s Iran album proffered, is this Standard Vanguard Phase 1,  from the late ’40’s.      TABRIZ 2 CD.          What a find!!

(IR)(cd 41-52)(oos).TABRIZ 2 CD_(r.w)_Vanguard.csKS

(NL-S.Holland 28-51)_HZ-76719(cc)_Liberian Consul,Opel.vbNL145aKS

The Consulate-General of Liberia in the Netherlands.

(NL 1928-51)  HZ-76719  —  Before Holland discontinued its 1906-51 plate series, and adopted their characteristic typestyle in the new 1951 LL-NN-NN series, this US-built Consular car (or Opel?) carried a  home-made panel in place of a normal CC oval.      Why on earth the benighted territory of Liberia warranted a presence in post-war Netherlands, I cannot conceive, but presumably some lucky chap enjoyed a two-year spell away from mosquitos, serpents, kidnap and road kill.           After reaching H 99999   South Holland’s code area H had been extended in 1928 with a Z suffix, .          

(Europlate Archive, former Stoel)

Pre-51 registration, post-51 style.   The slim dies used in the making of this particular number-plate, and some others from around the switchover time, are those which characterised the forthcoming 1951 series, yet using the pre-1951 registration, HZ, of South Holland province.    Both periods adhered to white on dark blue. 

TEHA website

(GR 14-54)(mil-af)_EA 205_f_Hillman10.plKS

(GR)  EA 205  —  The Greece Police still use their own plates and we see from this 1944 photo that it started a long time ago.    A high-spec Hillman Minx  of the period.

EA is the abbreviation of Elliniki Astinomia = Greek Police.


Greece had some assistance from Britain in the 1940s and their vehicles were allocated a separate plate format, of which we only have this glimpse…….British Mission        Any ideas?

(GR 40s-50s)(GBfGR q)_V 5319_plKS

(GR Query – V 5319  —  And an unknown Greek type, which has a coloured ‘V’ painted over a GB-style pressed-alloy plate CN 5319.    (The CN could have been from Kitts and Nevis, but is much too high a serial, or from Ceylon – but it was too early to have been part of the CE/CE/CY/CL/CN series there.)

That leaves 1932 Gateshead (GB), and it could be possible, as the car could well be of that vintage.     Might the V be a tax-exempt Visitor sign, for what we now deem Foreign Resident?


That’s all for now………..send any comments – and please keep sending your old (pre-1975) photos for entry to the Club historic archive.

TEHA website

I have checked this draft for errors and omissions, and all seems well.    However, the moment I press ‘Publish’, I will find clangers incomprehensibly still present.    Ho Hum.

Told you so.        Several ‘enhancement’ made already – and only 16 hours had passed!

And more, with new pics – 17/04/2018     Further edited 27/4/18