Ras al Khaima

April 7, 2013

The BP Mocamp outside Istanbul was a luxury caravanserai for the distance traveller in the 1960s.   Operated by the BP oil company, it was a new idea they had to provide US-style motor-camping facilities allied to service stations, the camping, I recall, being  provided at very modest cost.

The principal benefit to the writer, apart from clean showers, well-kept lawns and a good restaurant (in 1960s Turkey, that meant something), was the plate scene, as motors came and went from east to west.   When I first glimpsed this Mercedes, I was baffled; even when the driver explained, I was uncertain of the existence of this sheikhdom – but it remains one of my favoured shots today, and still unlike any other I have seen from R.A.K..   The European driver was returning to Europe after a tour of duty in the emirate and the acquisition of the Mercedes from the ‘royal’ fleet.

I was economic with film in early times and only one or two shots were ever wasted on one subject, unfortunately.    Then of course, we waited weeks to finish the film in  the camera, another two weeks while it went away to be processed in to prints or slides – and only then – too late – did one know whether the shot had succeeded!    Happy days now, with digital photography and immediate gratification…..

RAK 20 seen in Turkey in 1968.   Red/white indicates a 'royal household' issue.   Brumby archive

RAK 20 seen in Turkey in 1968.      Red/white indicated a ‘royal household’ issue.        Brumby archive

Cedric Sabine’s archive brings the genre forward 50 years, with a current RAK royal plate 120, carried on a Cadillac.

A 1994 visit found so-called royal household cars all over the place and as they are picturesque, they probably justify another airing.  Prince no. 35 stopping for a Coke and a diamond head-dress.

A 1994 visit found so-called royal household cars all over the place and as they are picturesque, they probably justify another airing. Prince no. 35 stopping here for a Coke and a diamond head-dress.



Indian plates using Hindi

December 30, 2012
1965 Delhi sight of (part of) a Hindi-scripted plate - uncommon at that time.

1965 Delhi sight of (part of) a Hindi-scripted plate – uncommon at that time.#

In support of a member’s sighting of an Indian Jeep in London in the 1950s, bearing Hindi scripted plates, we see another example in 1965 New Delhi, snapped just as a camera came to the end of a roll of film.    The Jowett Javelin was quite a rare car in Britain, using a flat-four water-cooled engine and many advanced features.     It would have been very difficult indeed to keep a 1951 car like this, still running in India in ’65!

The sight of an Indian car in Britain was – and remains – a rarity.     Of the handful I saw, royal household red plate with silver letters  ‘PALITANA 1’  was on a red Ford Mustang belonging to Prince Shiv and was shown in the Daily Mail circa 1957, though no photo by me.    This Hillman Minx however was captured in Plymouth one day in 1964

Madras-registered Hillman in 1964 Plymouth.

Madras-registered Hillman in 1964 Plymouth.

and a Bihar-registered early Rolls-Royce in a London mews:

BRQ 734 - one of the last grand cars to be permitted to leave India for international collections.

BRQ 714 – one of the last grand cars to be permitted to leave India for international collections.

and a type never reported before or since, seen in Earls Court, London, in the 1960s, using West Bengal plates in white on red and marked with (TRYP).

WBD 6714 - VW Kombi overlander in 1960s London, with an unexplained plate type.

WBD 6714 – VW Kombi overlander in 1960s London, with an unexplained plate type .

I have concluded that an Australian overlanding team was arriving by ship at Calcutta  (WB was for West Bengal until 1973) and was required by the customs at port of arrival to mount temporary transit plates, perhaps because they could not show documentation proving paid-up overseas licencing.   (Bad luck!)   They might have had to buy a carnet to transit India and the abbreviation TRYP on a red numberplate (rear only)  might have indicated the temporary nature of the registration.   It was all painted in the exact style of the period, the letters shorter that the numerals…..

The only red plates in India then were those of the princely states’  ‘royal family’  and the trade plates for dealers, of which DLH 267 M appears in RPWO/India/Historical Notes http://europlate.org.uk/countries/hai-kyr/ind/ind-hist.htm

Qatar – Camels to Maclarens

July 6, 2012

Ivan (Nip) Thornley on RPW Patrol – year 51 of service to the hobby.    Still he rejects the computer, and so what may be the biggest collection of  paper photos in the Club, cannot be easily sent round to members, except by hard copy in the post!   The writer is slowly scanning his archive, but it is a lifetime’s project!          Brumby archive

Whilst spotting in London on Saturday 30th.,  June, 2012, June being the premier month for visits by citizens of the Gulf countries who are not scrapping among themselves, VB noted this eminent autonumerologist at work with his trusty (film) camera, capturing an Illinois 2012  Harley-Davidson, seemingly abandoned.                 Gathering this worthy gent up into my car, N 692 LUF, I was guided by that ace-spotter, Nip,  to one of the Gulf-patronised hotels in the area, where two Arabian families were displaying their little treasures in the most prominent parking spots of the hotel forecourt.

The Qatari Maclaren plate 177  below carries the serrated red edge of the royal household members.   Tom Redington adds some amazing detail about this car in his response below!

QATAR 177 – The F1 Maclaren centre-steer road racer.   Brumby archive


Parked in front of the Maclaren are two identical Saudi Maybachs which  are registered 111 and 999, and probably bring the total value of the cars this group bring on holiday with them in their private 747s, to about  US$1.5million.












Such wealthy visitors as these, incidentally, do not carry conventional motor insurance, by special agreement with the appropriate government legal departments.     If they damage a local vehicle, they either hand out cash for repairs or replacement on the spot, or send someone round to pay up the next day, according to reports in the national papers.

London Transport, with their thousands of buses,  has the same facility, depositing a bank bond to cover any charges which might arise from a successful claim against them.    Presumably, so have the military fleets of some countries……..

I calculate that one could comfortably accommodate six wives in each Maybach, a situation with which I have considerable sympathy for the much-wed Muslim.

Perhaps the benefit could be that he can have no need to buy a dashboard sat-nav, as such prolific advice would be forthcoming in abundance from behind – if my experience is anything to go by.

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?

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

Antigua & Barbuda

March 17, 2012

A day visit by cruise ship to Antigua (St. Johns) on Feb. 3, 2012, rendered some new items of interest.

First, the original  Dealer (Motor Trader) plates had been changed a few years back, from red on white with Dealer initials and a low number (usually painted).                    ASM 3 is a 1981 example:

These changed to US-dimensioned,  pressed plates, thought to be in annually-varying colours, which showed the abbreviation  DL, followed by the initials of the Dealership (LR for Land Rover),  and then a serial number.

Antigua Dealer during the 2000s - Land Rover agency

2012 sees another Trade Plate change, with a complex all-silk-screened design, printed black, green and green on a white backgrounded US-size plate as shown below.   This dealer, Premier Motors,  has plates 1, 2 and 3 for their use.     This plate is un-drilled, as it is displayed loose from inside the vehicle, through the front or rear window.

Antigua/Barbuda  Dealer 2012 (annually issued)

In 2007, Antigua hosted a round of the World Cup Cricket series, and the authorities issued a batch of commemorative plates for the most important participants/ distinguished visitors.

I don’t think they remain valid for Antiguans to use, but this plate survived for the pleasure of  Europlate members!   (Update) CWC 028 was among those to pass through the Europlate Easter auction at Trezzo and is now in the hands of a keen collector.

Cricket World Cup Commemorative 2007.

Current government plates for senior people are in a very pleasing colour combination of green on dusky yellow.   Ministers have yet another series, without any legends, in yellow on royal blue, MP and a low serial.

Antigua Government personnel from 2000, pictured 2012.

Antigua Member of Parliament


None of the old AG prefix plates remain, though I did see one of each ‘P’ and ‘PA’ , which were subsequent issue, on scrapped cars.

Until 2000, when the new, US-style series began, Antigua often used a characteristic letter style, which helped to separate them from the identical  ‘P’  registrations issued by neighbouring islands in the West Indies and elsewhere.    They made up the digits with straight lines replacing the curves of numbers and letters.

Antigua Government vehicle, pre-2000, with stylised digits.

The smart annual tax disc for the country, below:

Antigua tax disc 2012

An excellent visit, where we found the Antiguans to be most hospitable and cheerful – and no grim looks when they see us photographing licence plates!     Members may know that we risk being arrested in many places these days, as we go for that  special shot!

Malaysian special issue.

December 1, 2011

'Malaysia First' special issue

Since 2010, some wealthy folk are circulating in Malaysia carrying a new type of special plate, using a G 1 M prefix.    My first was seen in Penang in Feb. 2011, on a brand new Jaguar sports, which I followed and photographed but lost the image in an irrecoverable external memory crash.

Then another this week on a new Ferrari and yesterday this one on a new Bentley (which, with local duties etc., would cost about US$800,000 here, as would the Ferrari.)

The prefix G 1 M is said to reflect an new imaginative concept of the Prime Minister, to encourage his citizens to think of Malaysia First (1 m) and  the ‘G’  abbreviates ‘Glory’ or ‘Glorious’.        The PM has allocated stg.£8-10m.  to support the scheme in its many facets, possibly to companies with which he is friendly and who are co-operative in his ventures.

Some oversight may be seen here:


(and a fulsome comment from Alexander in KL to read below – which identifies the ‘G’ in another way.)


Personally, I don’t like many forms of vanity plate, whatever it  ‘celebrates’.      It is ostentatious – and plays into the hands of cynical registrations authorities, who delight in grabbing money for nothing, from a naive motoring public.     I am impressed by such as the Germans, who have held back, surely against great pressure to turn their excellent system into a plaything.


During a 2013 visit, I am astonished to see this rare plate on a moped!   Wonders will never cease.

Glorious One Malaysia seen, unusually, on a moped in Penang Feb. 2013.   Usually borne by Porsches and Bentleys!    Maybe a tender to a Malaysian yacht.....

G 1 M 7101:  Glorious One Malaysia seen, unusually, on a moped in Penang Feb. 2013.    This vanity format is usually borne by Porsches and Bentleys!      Maybe a tender to a Malaysian yacht…..?    

Is this a St. Lucia variant?

December 1, 2011
St. Lucia unknown series

WL construction machine

In Castries, St. Lucia, in Jan. 2010, I saw this odd construction vehicle which rejoiced in a ‘Q’ suffix to its ‘T’ (Transport/Truck) code – though their  T  issue is nowhere near reaching Q in series, having only then reached TG.

Might the ‘Q’ indicate Special Purpose Vehicles?

I often wonder if Q in plate parlance abbreviates  ‘Queer’  in its proper sense of ‘out of the ordinary/not part of the standard run’.   GB has used it for international imports and exports in unusual circumstances.    EAT used it as  a suffix for temporary imports, (eg TAQ).    Malaysia gave it to Sarawak when it struggled to split out the overlapping codes of Sabah, Sarawak, Peninsular Malaya and Singapore.      Just a thought…..

Ghana mystery SG

October 13, 2011

For the first time since I took this photo in London in the 1960s, I have checked for the Ghanaian area code SG in RPWO and found no entry!   –

Later:    1959 special issue to celebrate Self-Government.)

Anyone know what the SG code might have indicated, please?     On the big  Fiat 2100 of the period.     (Answer given below by Alex Kafka, under Comments.)

SG 1267 Ghana plate from the early 1960s.   Brumby archive

Saudi Special in London Sept.2011

October 3, 2011

(KSA7)(rh)_TTT94_VBSophia2011 (2)_resize

Daughter-in-law Sophia captured this new Rolls in London’s Hyde Park Mews

on Sept. 24, 2011,  attracted by the opalescent pink coachwork.      But the plate is even more ‘tailor-made’ –  in pink on brown, TTT 94!     Can we take it to be KSA royal household plate?  (see Comment from Cedric, below)

There are quite a few good arabic plates in central London at the moment (2011), mostly Qatari.