Old plates from Yemen

June 22, 2015


I have the opportunity to access the photo archives of my close friend Bernt Larsson and I’m glad to share many of these valuable pictures with you all.     Some of these are quite old and fortunately I’ve been able to scan the negatives and touch them up for cleaning (speck of dust, scratching, etc.).  I hope you will enjoy them.

There will be more, and both Bernt and I are grateful to Vic Brumby for his initiative to start the Europlate blog.    


The first batch of negatives illustrate The Aden Colony (1937-63) and Aden Protectorate (1937-62) (or Federation of South Arabia as from 4/4/62) plus a photo from the Mutawakkilite Kingdom of Yemen from the 1950s. On 18/1/1963, the two Adens merged to form The Federation of South Yemen.


Independence from Britain came on 30.7.1967, when the short-lived Federation of  S.Y. was renamed the People’s Republic of South Yemen.
Description: Armed vehicles carrying machine guns manned by HM the Imam's bodyguard. Location: Yemen Date: 1950-1959 Our Catalogue Reference: Part of CO 1069/677 This image is part of the Colonial Office photographic collection held at The National Archives. Feel free to share it within the spirit of the Commons Please use the comments section below the pictures to share any information you have about the people, places or events shown. We have attempted to provide place information for the images automatically but our software may not have found the correct location. For high quality reproductions of any item from our collection please contact our image library

Fargo brand (US) army vehicles carrying machine guns manned by HM the Imam’s bodyguard.
Location: Yemen      Date: 1950-1959.   License Plate: ‘YMN 445


Now follow a series of South Yemení images taken by a friend of Bernt Larsson at the beginning of the sixties. Some vehicles have two plates for the free transit between the different states of the Federation – presumably.

Lahej 138 & FG 64 & L 8356-Mukayris 340 Abyan (ADN 60s_BL)

The Land Rover on the left has ‘Lahej 138‘ . The right one carries two plates –  ‘L 8356‘ (ADN) and ‘Mukayris 340 Abyan‘ and the third has ‘FG 64‘ for the Federal National Guard .

Lodar 68-Dathinah 164 (ADN Audhali-Dathina 60s_BL)

Lodar 68‘ from Audhali Sultanate in the front and ‘Dathinah 164‘ painted on the bumper.

Abyan 1122-Yafa Sahel 398 (ADN 60s_BL)

Two registration in one Land Rover plate: ‘Abyan 1122‘ and ‘Yafa Sahel 398‘.           A Hillman Minx is driving by, L 234 from Aden Colony.


Yafa Sahel 139-Abyan 470 & L 6849 (ADN 60s_BL)

Two registrations in one plate: ‘Yafa Sahel 139‘ and ‘Abyan 470‘.        On the right one can distinguish an Opel Rekord with the plate ‘L 6849‘ from Aden Colony and a circa 1958 Standard Vanguard Ensign L 4355.

PHS 23-1ADN 223 (ADN 60s_BL)

Another double- registration. ‘PHS 26′ (unknown code) and ‘1 ADN 223‘ from the  government  (1) vehicle series.


Finally a jeep from the former Yemen Arab Republic with the license plate ‘ J‘A Al-Yemeniya 906

YAR 906 (YAR 60s_BL)

The Yemen Arab Republic, also known as North Yemen and as Yemen (San’aa) existed between 1962 and 1990 , when it united with PDRY (South Yemen) 22/5/90, forming Republic of Yemen.




We cannot resist adding another of Bernt's Aden pictures, because it is carried by a most unlikely vehicle for the tough conditions in the Yemen area, This is a very rare Goggomobil TL van, more info on which is found at: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goggomobil

L 7728 from the 1960-63 Aden Colony series.       We cannot resist adding another of Bernt’s Aden pictures, because it is carried by a most unlikely vehicle for the tough conditions in the Yemen area.     This is a very rare, lightweight Goggomobil TL van, more info on which is found at: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goggomobil             Bernt Larssen archive

Zambia re-plating

December 14, 2012

This Bentley S1 picture has been sent to us by  non-member Wayne Kennerley, an avid student of old cars in Southern Africa.

1950s Ndola District re-made in current style.

EU 1850 – 1950s Lusaka District re-made in current  Zambian style.

We see an example of  the original Northern Rhodesia series which ran from the inception of registrations there in the 1920’s, up to 1963.      This 6-cylinder Bentley S1 model was built from 1955-59 so if brought to Rhodesia new, this S1 would have received it’s EU  (Lusaka/Mumbwa) 1850 plates  in the original British style – but this car has replaced its plates in the format of the new 2000 > Zambia system of black on reflective white, pressed alloy.

Contemporary Lusaka motor-sportsmen with their Triumph TR4s on EA (Lusaka) plates.

Early 1960s Lusaka motor-sportsmen with their Triumph TR4s on (almost consecutive) EA (Lusaka & Mumbwa) plates, in the original design.

Thanks, Wayne.     Rare pictures.

** Any interesting Zambian items available from  RPW members??

Colony of North Borneo ((CNB) until 1963)

November 17, 2012

Member John Pemberton EU83, a venerable nonagenarian from Suffolk, has reminded me that he has a plate, J 3500, from one of the the little-seen British colonial enclaves of  Borneo island, now known as Sabah state in Eastern Malaysia.     Independent  in 1957,  Malaya later combined with the former British territories in Borneo island, Sarawak and (then) the Colony of North Borneo to form Malaysia in 1963.    To see a plate from British Borneo (or from Labuan Island – a onetime Straits Settlement)  in those times was a rare sight indeed.

I have written to him thus:

Mr. P. – You write of having a ‘CNB’ numberplate, J 3500 – the CNB only identifying the Colony of North Borneo as it was designated between 1955  and 1963*, when it assumed (PTM) – six years after Malaya’s 1957 independence from Britain.   After another ten years, in 1967, the Malaysian  (PTM) international oval changed to (MAL) and vehicles from (by now, Sabah) would show the (MAL) oval IF they ever travelled outside Borneo or mainland Malaya – most unlikely.

British North Borneo 1950s-60s.     J=Jesselton (now Kota Kinabulu).

You sent me a photo of J 3500, and I have it my Sabah archive as above: Glorious!     You say that the late Roger Anderson passed it to you in 1976.   Did he ever say what vehicle it came from?   Did he see it in Britain?     John P replied verbally that a very old friend and an early spotter obtained it ‘out East’ in the 1950s, but was unsure of its origin.

The writer DID see Sabah once in London on a Mini, in 1963*, and fortunately, photographed it for posterity:

J 6186    1963 sighting in London of Jesselton (J) Morris Mini-Minor.    Showing the new Perseketuan Tanah Melayu (PTM) oval, which, since 1958, had replaced  (FM) (Federation of Malaya).   Until 1963 the oval  for this region would have been (CNB)          Brumby archive

I have now visited Sabah twice and collared quite a few of these earliest plates on photo – it’s a jurisdiction where old cars are kept running,  and, happily, the authorities don’t force owners to shed their original plates whenever a system change occurs.

Although, when Mainland Malaysia recognised that it’s newly-acquired Bornean territories, Sabah and Sarawak were already using regional codes identical to their own, Sabah hurried to add a suffix ‘S’ to their existing registered vehicles, (and Sarawak added a ‘Q’ suffix) to distinguish them, should vehicles move between Peninsular Malaya and north Borneo (now East Malaysia).   The Mini above would have adopted J 6186 S.

Newly-registered cars in Sabah first adopted an ’E’ (for East Malaysia) preceding their town code (E J-Jesselton, E S-Sandakan etc.)    In Sarawak, they added a ‘Q’ suffix to existing plates and a ‘Q’ prefix to new registrations.    The ‘J’ for example, which could have come from Johore (Peninsular Malaya) or from Jesselton (Colony of North Borneo/Sabah).

Until these changes had been implemented,  at that confused time, a PTM-ovalled car seen abroad after 1963, registered  ‘K’ nnnn could have been registered in Kedah (Peninsular Malaya), Kudat (Sabah) or Kuching (Sarawak)!       ‘T’ could come from Trengganu  (PM) or Tawau, and ‘S’  from Sandakan (Sabah), Singapore (old) or Sibo (Sarawak).

Little wonder the licensing authorities had to act!

The post -1963 Sabah plates had an ‘S’ suffixed to their original registration. K=Kudat, S=Sabah.   Most plates were re-made from scratch, for appearance.    Brumby archive

NEW vehicles were issued with the usual codes and a new ‘E’ prefix:

The Sabah system from 1963.   Later, having issued to 9999, a serial suffix A and B would be needed, in three of the Sabah registration districts – EJ-A, EJ-B, ES-A, ET-A.    Brumby archive


Eastern Malaysia – Sandakan – with serial suffix A 3024.    Brumby archive

There are still, dumped in kampongs, a few of the single-letter plates to be seen.   And photographed.     Some plate collectors would buy them off the village headman and take them away, but I like to leave them in their context, in case another member should chance by in years to come!


Mr. P – It is so evocative to read that in your early spotting day, you saw Danzig Free City plates – and India, including Jammu & Kashmir!     Did you take photos of any of them in those times?

LATER  (John Pemberton passed his album in January 2013 to the Club, as a result of this enquiry,  and the 80 or so pictures will be progressively released on the Blog.

Any other unseen material out there, readers????


The remarkable sight on two Jesselston-registered VW 1500s in London in 1969.   Note their numbers.

The remarkable sight of two Jesselton-registered VW 1500s in London in 1969. Note their numbers.     Brumby archive

p.s.   Does anyone have a picture of a Colony of North Borneo oval (CNB) or a State of North Borneo oval (SNB)????      We assume a few were made.

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?

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?