Spotting notes from 1955

June 4, 2013

As avid Blog-watchers will know, member John Pemberton handed the Club his photo album from times gone by, and we have been able to share his rare old pictures by scanning them in to the Blog.    (All still listed, if you have missed them – just open the previous Posts.)

From 1936, John kept an account of every foreign plate he saw – unless he was travelling abroad, when he would not record everything he saw – just foreigners.    Though the early years records are lost, John’s spotting-books from 1954 have also been passed to Europlate and   EU 38 Brumby has recently spent many happy hours selecting his most interesting sightings from 1955 to 1970, which is as far as I have got so far.  (It takes quite a time to decipher his hurried writing and to transfer to p.c.!)

Keen to set a few before you, for your delectation, I refer you to the first, 1955-56 (Aug), spreadsheet

(copy and paste into your browser):


You will note that more cars, from more places, used to be seen in Britain and some parts of Europe, than we are used to today.    I recall Paris always being a fruitful visit in those days, with a fair chance of seeing something from the little-known French empire territories.     Here we see a predominance of British Empire sightings and plates we could never hope to see today.

Let me know if you like it, and would like to see John’s following years’ spottings, as they become available.


In passing, can anyone prove or disprove  that this MGA is carrying  a Yugoslavian CD?      It was taken in about 1962 in London, and is believed to have been either black or red on yellow.    If not, where IS it from?

Quiz plate - DID YU have a CD system like this??? Brumby archive

Quiz plate – DID (YU) have a CD series like this???
Brumby archive

And still we have no identification by members of the diplomatic plate on this 1950s Austin A40 Sports.    The ‘F’ oval cannot be correct…….

Odd French diplomatic, 1940s-50s.

Odd French diplomatic, 1940s-50s.

Cryptic plate at Gumball3000

May 30, 2013

IMG_5588IMG_5590On 23.05.2013 the Gumball 3000-Rally visited Vienna.

Of course the expected number of foreign cars with uncommon numberplates could be seen parked next to the Vienna ´Hofburg´castle.

Remarkable was, that no car wore the necessary distinguish sign (oval) and most countries could only be identified by experienced spotters.

The car showed in the attached pictures arrived together with and parked next to an arabian colleague from Qatar, so probably it´s a translated arabian plate, but nothing else supplied references to the place of origin.

As so often in Austria the executive elected the path of least resistance. The traffic police observed the race, received all cars at the parking place, perhaps also puzzling about their backgroud, and did nothing…

You only have to show yourself as VIP and all bow down!

Is the plate of the Governor of Portuguese East Africa?

January 12, 2013

Recently I came across this image (which I straightened from an angled shot and cropped) of a plate supposed to be that (until 1975, according to RPWO, although without illustration) of the Governor of Portuguese East Africa, currently known as Mozambique (or Moçambique in Portuguese). This plate was allegedly given “personally” to an American who was working there at the time. A nice looking plate with an interesting history—Portuguese East Africa number 1, surely a coup for any plate collection, and deserving of a place of prominence in a display.


But wait a minute. Don’t they speak Portuguese in Portuguese (!) East Africa, and now Mozambique? According to Wikipedia, “Portuguese Mozambique or Portuguese East Africa (officially the State of East Africa upon erection and later Overseas Province of Mozambique) was the common name by which the Portuguese Empire’s territorial expansion in East Africa was known across different periods of time.” In the table accompanying the article the “languages” [sic] are given as “Portuguese” suggesting that any indigenous languages in this part of Africa were, if not suppressed, not to be considered; indeed (Wikipedia again), “Mozambique, according to official policy, was not a colony at all but rather a part of the ‘pluricontinental and multiracial nation’ of Portugal. Portugal sought in Mozambique, as it did in all its colonies, to Europeanize the local population and assimilate them into Portuguese culture.” By the way, Mozambique became independent from Portugal on 25 June 1975.

If one visits this article in Portuguese (an easy click away via the Languages sidebar to the left of the article), he finds the following introductory sentence: “Moçambique ou África Oriental Portuguesa (oficialmente Estado da África Oriental, depois elevado para Província Ultramarina de Moçambique) era o nome comum pelo qual a expansão territorial do Império Português na África Oriental era conhecida em diferentes épocas.” And there it is—the Portuguese rendering of the name of the name of the state (as in country) or province (as in part of Portugal)—África Oriental Portuguesa, which surely would have been rendered on the Governor’s plate as AOP.

Is this really the plate of the Governor of Portuguese East Africa?

Chinese car spotted on fjord ferry in Norway

July 10, 2012

OLAV writes

July 2012

China is not the most likely country to be spotted in Europe. So you can imagine my surprise when I came across this Beijing registered vehicle on a local ferry in Norway this Sunday. The solo driver said he had left Beijing at the end of May. They were a group of 8 (vehicles or people I don’t know) that separated in Moscow because he wanted to go to the North Cape. The good news for British spotters is that they are all going to London for the Olympics. So keep your eyes open!

G di F trailer

April 19, 2012

Driving to Milan/Trezzo and back for the 2012 Europlate Meeting, a few odd sightings made me reach for my camera:   Here is the first Italian Taxation Police trailer I’ve ever seen, taken as a moving target on the autostrada, whilst driving at 85kph.     Still, it came out all right….

G di F trailer

Presumably for collecting the bigger taxation amounts?


Stopping above Nice on the toll-booth rest area, was 116189 RS, my first of the 2002-onwards Tunisian Foreigner series – Régime Suspensif – ‘given to foreign workers who pay taxes monthly’.   (Don’t we all?)

Tunisian Foreigner series


Dropping our Editor Paul at the Milan airport on Easter Monday, the less-common Italian Consular Corps plate was seen parked on a Kia 4wd:

Italian Consular Corps for South Korea (GM), at Malpensa airport, Milan, April 2012.


The Mercedes Benz Museum at Stuttgart was an impressive visit, though few plates were of interest.

They have made a good facsimile of the Vatican plate borne by the first Popemobile which Benz supplied in the 1980s.


Though the Swiss don’t have vanity plates as such, it seems that one can obtain an interesting out-of-sequence tag:

NW = Nidwalden


In Calais I was surprised to find that the local fast-food joint was delivering their delicacies on Luxembourg-registered mopeds!

Long-distance Pizza?

Whose Vietnam photo?

March 17, 2012

Who took this shot in the 1960s?   It’s a 1960s-70s white on green Viet Nam foreigner plate, exceedingly rare to sight in Europe.     No claimant as at Dec 4 2013!

The anonymous picture (with the bumper attached) came to the Blog via Jim Gordon in West Oz, but Jim says it was not he who took it…….

Taken by an anonymous cameraman, seemingly in London during the 1960s, we believe. On a Hillman Husky.

This anonymous shot shows the Hillman Husky bearing a home-made VN oval on the bumper. The bumper was missing on the later shot, by Vic Brumby in Notting Hill Gate a little later, below.


The owner told Vic Brumby, when questioned, that he was an  ‘educational missionary’  and that his next posting was to Tchad.   He gave me a picture of his car in his pre-Viet Nam posting – BK = Medan,  Sumatra.      This was a well-travelled Hillman!

A well-travelled Hillman Husky in Medan, Sumatra (BK) before re-registering NTB 3621 in Viet Nam, then Tchad.

Unknown plate in Sabah

March 17, 2012

Anyone suggest the meaning of this plate FD 01 2195?     Two or three seen in Sabah on lorries, during 2010.

A Malaysian conundrum.

FD 01 2195 unidentified in Sabah 2010

Early Danish military

October 13, 2011


Peter Pawellek found this picture of a1909(?) series Danish military plate on eBay.  Does anyone have more information on this series?