Sunday, May 22, 2011

British Number Plates

By Timothy Wheeler

Car number plates have been a feature of British motoring since 1903 when the first ever vehicle registration number was issued. This car number plate was A 1 issued in London. At this time it was the role of councils to issue vehicle registration numbers the alpha characters were used to represent the issuing office, the numerical characters 0-9 being the random component.
The vehicle registration index in England, Wales and Scotland excluded the I & Z's characters. The I & Z characters were used in Northern Ireland who had their own unique system for car registration numbers. G, S & V and their double letter combination characters were originally to be used exc
lusively for Scotland. This had to be abandoned due to increased demand although I and Z were only used in Ireland.
Dateless Number Plates
The term dateless referrers to registrations that have no age indicator. The earlier car registration numbers were all dateless. There are still thousands of dateless registration numbers on the road today in the United Kingdom. These however are now private number plates. They are a great way for there owners to make a statement about themselves and their personality. Some dateless registrations are used to display the owners initials others reflect a name, hobby, football team, company, qualification, children, grand children or whatever is personal to the owner.
Suffix Number Plates.
The dateless registration number was limited to the amount of possible combinations could be issued. As popularity of the motor vehicle increased the DVLA had to come up with a new scheme to accommodate the volume of new vehicles being registered. Hence the suffix registration was born in 1963. The Format of the registration was three letters excluding I,Q & Z, this represented the issued office. Followed by three numerical characters 0-9, this was the random part or the registration number. The final component was the Suffix character, a single alpha character to represent the first year the vehicle was registered. Each year a new suffix letter was issued reflecting vehicles first registered. This worked really well for many years with motorists seeing who could be first to get a new vehicle on August the 1st, the first day of the registration year. Today private number plates in the suffix style are increasing in popularity.
Prefix Number Plates
By 1983 the Suffix registration number system was exhausted and the DVLA yet again have to rethink the vehicle indexing system. Having had this problem previously they were well equipped with what to do.
As with dateless numbers when the need to increase the available numbers they had reversed them. Essentially that is what happened to suffix DVLA number plates, introducing the prefix car registration numbers. The first Character was an alpha character, representing the vehicle age. Followed by three numbers, 0-9, this was the random component in the vehicle registration number. Then the alpha block, three letters excluding I,Q & Z that reflected the registering office.
The motor trade were delighted in August when there sales rocketed as motorists rushed to get a new registered car, for 12 months everyone would know that had a brand new car quiet a status symbol.
The problem for them was this huge peak in their selling calendar and for years the motor traded lobbied for a change. In 2001 they got their way and since then there has been two registration number changes a year March 1st & September 1st.

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