German ovals.

March 29, 2017


(D)(exp 51-88)_818 Z-9349_cu_1960sVB

Before the ubiquitous Export Z-plates of the post-war years were seen all over Europe, as Germany stepped up her motor manufacturing with vehicles the whole world wanted to buy, another, simpler form of the unique oval licence plate had been born.

(D 07-50)(temp)_01515+Illinois1931_vbKS(D 07-50)(temp).Prussia_31205_UScar.vbKS(D 07-50)(temp).Bremerhaven_219_r_UScar.vbKS(D 07-50)(temp)_01962_Henschel lorry..vbKS(D 07-50)(temp).Hamburg_5579_ (CD sign-S)_Ford Eiffel.vbKS

Reader Hassan translates: “Second to last car from Berlin… Captain Sigvard Drake of the P-4 (armoured) regiment, Skövde, narrates an exciting trip home from Berlin in his Ford Eifel Cabriolet in the letter below. (letter absent -Ed)  The picture is taken outside of Hedberg’s (Ford Dealership) in Malmö”     Thank you Hassan.


Who would like to write a covering piece about this historic temporary series?




Bali Query

March 29, 2017


Jake Brumby was alert one morning last week, when this very odd Indonesian Consular Corps passed him in  traffic.    iPhone at the ready, he grabbed this shot.

Expiry being apparently in the 68th. month of 2001 leads you to the suspicion that this false-plate maker doesn’t know a lot about his subject!   Or is it something NEW?(RI)(cc)_CC_ DK 68-01_BMW.Ubud2017JB


Usually, Indonesian Consulars are thus:

where 12 is the US embassy and 22 indicates that the driver is 22nd. in line for the Big Job if it ever becomes free.   His plate ran out of tax  in July 2012.

(RI)(cc 92~-USA)_CC 12 22_cu_VB

But regional Consulars are  coded for their locality which in this case is the DK  code for Denpasar, the BALI capital.   42 tells us that there is a Mexican consulate there, and 01 would be the Consul himself.     Not a bad posting!

(RI 92~).Bali(cc-MEX)_DK 42 01 CC_2008VB

Maybe they run out of consular volunteers sometimes and pull in a few Honorary Consuls, because Indonesia makes a special plate for them……

(RI)(cc honcon 77~)_L 980 CC_cu_ITvb

and before the thin tin plate design commenced years ago, the original Netherlands Indies designs were in use, and show the family history.

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

Note also how cameras have improved since the 1960s!

The country sports some of the most baroque military and police plates in the world, and because it’s a laid-back place, the cops don’t mind you photographing them.    Try this in Moscow!

(RI).Bali(pol)(mc)_XI 14-115_cr _2008VB

Roman numerals, indeed!


And what did Mr. Karel Stoel have to say about the Spice Islands?    Plenty – including BA-439

Sumatra West – on another of those Auburns which Jean-Emmanuel found in Guadeloupe!

(RI 20-62)(IN).Sumatra west_BA-439_plKS

(Guad 20s-52)_3162 1930s Auburn.jec.jpg

Next – notes from a banana republic….


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.


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_ac2010vb

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 Oldest Navigator).

The 2014 photo was taken in Mandalay by Australian friends visiting Burma in 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 ‘spoke for a while with the driver’, but they never discovered that they had a mutual friend until I put 2 and 2 together weeks later after receiving her 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 arrived at Port Havana, the authorities decided to blackmail the competitors by refusing entry without an arbitrary and significant bribe.    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:


Malaysia 2017 news

February 11, 2017

Surprisingly, the series for the Wilayah of Kuala Lumpur which commenced in Sept. 2013 and which was to run for up to 20 years, W then W(A-Y) nnnn A-Y:


and after straight W, prefixed WA, WB etc nnnn L:


mal-2013-16-wilayah-kl_wb-8204-u_c_2014vbhas been stopped at WD 9999 Y and replaced by a letter never previously used in Malaya – V.  From 1 October 2016, V 11 started the ball rolling (1-10 are reserved for arrivistes) and  V 9999 was reached soon after.       The traffic in Kuala Lumpur is testimony to the overpopulation of vehicles in this prosperous, sprawling city – though I estimate that 40% of the take-up of new registrations is by small motorcycles, which are as prolific as they are in Vietnam and share the same registration system as cars and commercials.

V  quickly ran out at 9999, so  –  on with the first set of serial letters, VA-VY 10-9999....mal-2016-wilayah-kl_v-5913_nissan-2017vb


By February 2017, the alpha serials have reached VQ!        So – not long before we see VA 11-9999 A-Y.


The new capital, Putrajaya, built to take the strain off KL’s overgrowth,  where accommodation has been built for hundreds of thousands, and where government departments have been moved, has been a white elephant; the people just aren’t interested in living 40 miles away from KL.   The bizarre original plate issue Putrajaya 1-9999 for those who DO dwell in that silent city, malsi_putrajaya-3334_cu_vb

has finally been used up and from 1/6/2016 was replaced  with ‘F‘ perhaps for ‘Federal’ as Putrajaya is the (supposed) HQ of the Federal Government.    Not many around yet.  The Sultan of Johore bought F 1 for some record fee because he associates it with Formula One and his family have been motor enthusiasts and car collectors since motoring began and they got their first chequebook.



Honorary Member Stoel contributes this 1950s magazine extract of Grandfather Johore’s  HHSJ, one of several pre-war Mercedes 540K’s owned by the family.   (?Being returned to Stuttgart for rebuild?   It could be the Hamburg dockside.)mal-johorerh-sultan-40s_hhsj_m-b-640k-vbks


Perhaps the same 540K after restoration, and bearing the ubiquitous HHSJ plates – His Highness the Sultan of Johore – still in use.  Indeed, he ran a HHSJ supplementary-plated Mercedes 300 saloon in London for many years, which I photographed in circa 1960, – and lost the picture.    Here  another HHSJ  example is seen plus Johore Bahru  1 on a then-new Benz 300SL.


and (above) an interim HHSJ conveyance, no doubt from Lincoln or Cadillac,  probably in the 1940s.




A Malayan AA badge from early days, surmounted by the territory name.   Most, if not all, Empire countries had their own AA badges.









A later type.


PATRIOT‘  —   Here is the latest money-tree for the Malaysian Vehicle Registration Dept. (Vanity Division).      It seems that whatever notion they conceive to provide a plate variation, a gullible public will adopt – at the much-increased cost over a standard plate.     Perhaps they have seen the success of the Australian plate-marketing gurus – there are more dopey plates there than standard ones!

A New Discovery    (but see below…)

Having once glimpsed a Royal Australian Air Force pick-up truck (ute) on a Penang ferry, but unable to capture it by camera, I located their base this time, via Google Maps, and drove over to Butterworth in the former Province Wellesley to wait at the airbase gates for any traffic carrying dedicated plates.    As I arrived, a minibus left the compound and set off down the other carriageway.   The plates were of an unknown configuration.      Wasting time on a turn on the highway, I set off in hot pursuit, though he must have had at least a kilometre start.    My hired Kia achieved some higher-than-normal revs and before long I was behind D 1242 E, whose driver, a smart young Aussie soldier, stopped at my request.

mal-2017mod_d-1242-e_toyota-innova2-butterworth2017vb mal-2017mod_d-1242-e_cu_butterworth2017vb

He didn’t know much about the series, or how long it has been extant, but he did know that the D is for the Defence Ministry.    He kindly authorised a close-up shot – and now we all know about another Malaysian* format, which doesn’t replace the usual military ‘Z‘ plates, such as


(ZU=Royal Malaysian  Air Force (U=Udara=Air)

* ….   20170223 – This week I saw another of these plates, but this was near Canberra, and the penny dropped.     I checked with guru Jim Gordon in West Australia and he confirms – it is an AUSTRALIAN ‘Defence Organisation’ plate – not Malaysian.   New one to me.     However, it is an unusual strain thereof, as the Oz-based MoD plates are blue on white as under and they have a legend below, but the Malaysian-use ones are made up in white on black, foregoing the legend,  to resemble the Malaysian plates.       Mea Culpa!



Finally another Stoel picture from Malaya’s past, showing an 1940s Johore JA 1551 and two British-plated Benzes:mal-johore-48-71_ja-1551_m-b-vbks


Also finally  finally – a glimpse of Stoel’s notes on the Unfederated Malay States of Kelantan and Kedah before 1948.   (Improved image to follow if poss.)       We see the old Kelantan code KN of which we have only read – on the Humber, no 555, and  K 2400 on a c.1932  Morris Isis from Kedah which has continued its K code from inception (probably about 1905) through to today, albeit now using a suffix or two.    (I observe that 2400 seems a high number for Kedah in 1928-32, the period of manufacture of the 6-cylinder Isis.   That northern state was still on straight  K in  the 1960s, as I recall –  see the early Morris Minor below.) 







Myanmar-Burma 2017

February 10, 2017

A side-trip to Myanmar from our base in Kuala Lumpur, via the cheap and excellent airline, Air Asia, gave me the long-awaited opportunity to photo the plates of that backward land.    Burma re-plated in October 2013, changing from all-Burmese script to all-western alphabet, though there are still vehicles running with the original script.    All military vehicles and every type of motorcycle continues with the incomprehensible Burmese only.


The motorcycle series is unchanged in local script, which in this case reads 34 Ya 44226.

The police continue with Burmese script on motorbikes, but their bigger vehicles switched to the standard new plates, indistinguishable from civilian plates.       See NPW 6H-9883 below.


Commercial vehicles have always displayed a copy of their registrations along the sides of the vehicle and this is an former-series supplementary reg. J 3280, in Burmese, carried on a lorry with westernised translation  front and rear plates J 3280 (below).    (The only one such seen with mixed script formats.)



CD-4/6  —  I was surprised to find a CD still carrying previous-series plates –  on an old car.     The new CD type has been extended from only the CD and UN prefix by adding code IO for International Organisations.      No letter-prefix at all would identify non-diplomatic embassy staff – NDES.  (See YGN 1-1020 below.)


YGN CD 5-5  —  CD code 5 above is from the embassy of Pakistan in Yangon.


UN plates’ leading numbers indicate a branch of the organisation – see breakdown in RPWO.    UN 15-1 (1=Head of  yet-unidentified Mission 15) seen at Yangon Airport (which is brand new and very impressive to those who arrive expecting a tin hut surrounded by angry generals).


YGN 1-1020  —  Embassy vehicles without Diplomatic Immunity are issued no-letter-prefix CD-type plates, seemingly starting from serial 1000, and uncoded.     Embassy 1 = USA, on a Toyota minibus.


YGN IO-1047  —  The new International Organisation plates’ serials commence at 1000.     This vehicle 1047  is attached to a German cultural Institute, though no coding shows on the plate.       Not many of the 2013-srs. plates are made with the horizontal substrate reading RTAD, as this one is, but all plates seem to have the top left and right stamps (as below).

bur-2013-plate-detail-rhs_vb bur-2013-plate-detail-lhs_vb



The least-seen (1!) of the new types was the green ‘foreign gift’ vehicle which in this case was a gift from the Red Cross/Red Crescent, YGN 3J-1815.     Note that all the categories of user take their registration from the single, common pool, so that the next issue after this green plate (3J-1816) could be a red taxi plate, or a black private plate etc.etc.


Only two of the yellow ReLiGious vehicles were seen, issued for the transport of the many Buddhist monks. Odd code system, to my mind, but a splendid plate YGB RLG-6894…….



This is an unusual ex-Japan Hino bus in that it carries a translation plate YGN G-4617 from the 1950s-2013 series, properly pressed in the latest style.     It was the only one of this type seen.


Taxi YGN HH-1104  —  Normal bus and taxi plates (PSV) are red and began in 2012-3 with pairs of letters preceding 1-9999.     For no known reason, when AA to HH had been issued, the pairing idea was discontinued and now the Public Service Vehicles are registered in the normal run 1A-1234.         The red background material is fading to dark brown on some of  the earlier plates, which are said to be Chinese-made, so unlikely to be using the 3M non-fade material.      The first of the AA plates were made without the regional code atop the plate (see AA 4160 below).



Taxi AA-4160 — One of the first 2013 new-series PSV plates, pressed without a regional code.



Tourist Taxi YGN 8H-6379  —  Smarter, newer bus and taxi plates coloured blue are for the use of foreign visitors and these may legally accept currency other than the Burmese Kyat (with which so few visitors travel!)     (The rate is about 1750:stg£1 and 1350:US$1 at month-end Jan 2017.)         At last there are street ATM’s in the country and it has become  easier to obtain currency at a fair rate and without showing passports or standing in long, hot queues.


YGN 7I-6590  —  A foreign-tourist-authorised taxi, registered in the normal NL-NNNN system, but in blue.     Both I and Q are used in Myanmar registrations.


The normal Private, Police and Government plates are white on black, all taken from the common system and uncoded:


SHN 3M-9788 is from Shan District – Taunggyi.    Likely to be a government car.


SGG 2F-3977, a Suzuki from Sagaing region, outside the legendary Strand Hotel on Strand Road in Rangoon/Yangon .


MDY 4M-4552, from Mandalay, above.


NPW 6H-9883 is a Napidaw-registered police lorry working in Rangoon, with a number taken from the normal register, and in white on black as for private vehicles.



Heavy trailers have a white-on-red series of their own, previously unrecorded: 1 TLR 4594 at the docks.


burtlr_1tlr-4594_cu_2017rangoon-docksvbThe 6 seen all had painted plates.   For the small run required, it probably isn’t worth manufacturing them…….


Some bicycles carry a plate at the front: can you translate?


There are no non-government 2-wheeled vehicles in central Yangon.

We were told that the ban on motorcycles in central Rangoon was brought about by the  sudden recognition by the generals who ran the country (and still run it, but are now out of uniform and in to business suits) of the ease with which a Honda 50cc carrying two unhappy citizens could slide alongside their Landcruisers in the eternal traffic jam of the capital and with a single shot, bring them Early to the Pearly Gates.


BELOW:    A quiz subject here.    A small m/c with a blue plate.   What is it??



Here are some examples of vehicles which have not changed their plates to the 2013 format, but instead, have fitted ‘translation plates’ from their old Burmese-script plates.     They are all small-medium commercial vehicles, which may mean something……

bur-58cremake-yangon_s-6339_truck-2017vb bur-58cremake-yangon_q-3594_mazda-truck-2017vb bur-58cremake-yangon_p-4138_cr_lrover-2017vb


YGN O 7078 – a Land Rover clone.     O, P, Q, S, T & V serial letters were  seen.      The apparent  ‘minder’ of the government yard in which these old commercials was photographed, said that they were ‘Ministry’ vehicles and that he himself was the Minister of Publicity and Public Affairs.      It may have been the local English in which he explained this to me, but I was unconvinced.      I think they are simply old machines which their owners want to keep using, and to do that, the authorities tell them to translate their old plates in to western script, and add the new regional code letters.     All registrations were centrally issued from Rangoon before Burma’s 1948 independence from Britain, and reached RD (from R, RA, RB, and RC) using western script.     In the next years until about 1955, there was a mix of alphabets on plates.  Then the  ‘R’ prefix became lost and only the serial letter was given in that period.  When that alphabet set was exhausted, a serial prefix number was employed, (eg 1-Ya 1234), just as today.     Almost 60 years of Burmese squiggles-only then ensued, until the new, pressed, coloured-coded plates came about in 2012-3.       However, there are brand-new cars circulating in Rangoon, bearing untranslated pre-2012 plates and I can only assume that these are VIPs who can buck the system.     There are also quite a few very grand cars which have had their 2013 plates made up in differing western fonts, materials and sizes, to show themselves up.      As usual around the world, if one is well-connected here, the laws don’t apply…..


And from history-man Karel Stoel, a blast from the Burmese past……………


Jungle stop to exchange info on road conditions, thought to be circa 1938.       Chevrolet LQ bus. RB 1824


     Gha / 4?53 about 1953 on a Morris J2 half-ton van.


RD 1802 with CD oval on a 1952 Packard Clipper.    No special format for diplomats then.       This former British-India series for Burma RA-RD  never reached RE in western script, but continued it in Burmese, and slowly dropped the initial ‘R’.     Later, as the single-letter Burmese-alphabet prefixes were used up, a leading serial number was added, and still is used, by motorcycles, which retain Burmese script.



The swansong of Nuffield Group in Burma.    A new Morris Oxford MO gha 2140 and and a Wolseley (6/80?) gha 2235  pose  outside Rangoon’s Shwe Dagon pagoda.     It is probably about 1952 and already the switch to Burmese  ‘squiggles’ is evident.     Due to the ban on imports, 60-year-old cars like these were still running in Burma until about six years ago, but now the slow opening-up of the country is bringing thousands of cheap, used, right-hand-drive cars in from Japan.   Burma drove on the left until the 1970s, and though it now drives on the right of the road, all its vehicles remain right-hand-drive!     There are now some car dealers, but no trade plates were found.

These are the sort of historic pictures the Club has gained from the acquisition of the Stoel albums. Paid-up members who wish to see the progress-to-date made in the scanning and identifications can email me for the hyperlink – which will shortly be generally distributed in any event.

VWB Kuala Lumpur 10.02.17 (and successively amended).


Unknown plate

October 10, 2016

Sent in by reader ‘Hegisde’

Does anyone know what this is for a plate ?


October 8, 2016

Europlate members may be interested in this Saigon temporary,dated 24-8-1975,that I have recently added to my collection. There seems no mention of this type in RPWO.dscf0001