BUCKINGHAM PALACE POLICE ACCIDENT: Police car overturns during speedy chase in London

London – VIJAY SHAH via JOE ROBERTS and Metro

While the police in London are largely renowned for their exemplary vehicle handling during high-speed car (and moped) chases, one unfortunate squad car and its occupants came a cropper while chasing a moped near the world-famous Buckingham Palace, part-time residence of the UK’s royal family.

 

According to a report in tabloid newspaper Metro, the police vehicle was called out to a report of a stolen moped being driven by a seventeen-year-old boy and carrying one passenger at 4:30 am at Hyde Park Corner yesterday. The police gave chase and that chase carried on through central London. Upon arriving at Grosvenor Place’s junction with Chapel Street, just outside the Palace’s grounds, a second police car, which may have also been involved in apprehending the suspects, collided with the moped, leaving the bike’s driver with leg injuries that needed medical treatment. The police car itself flipped over and ended up resting on its roof at the side of the road near a high wall.

The 17-year-old was arrested by Metropolitan Police officers after being discharged from hospital. He is being charged for ‘a number of motoring offences’ according to police sources cited in the Metro. A police spokesperson said: “The vehicle, rider and pillion passenger matched the description of a moped believed to have been involved in a series of offences”

The passenger fled the scene and is being hunted by police. As is the norm in police situations where people are injured or killed, the incident has been forwarded to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) for further investigation. An IOPC representative told Metro: “An independent investigation has been launched following a collision between a moped and a marked police car in Westminster, London, this morning.

‘A 17-year old boy has suffered serious leg injuries and been taken to hospital. A police vehicle overturned during the incident but no police officers have sustained injuries.”

Mopeds in London are often a popular choice of vehicle stolen by criminals due to their ubiquity, ease of theft, and that police are often unable to bring them to a halt, due to their high speeds and manoeuvrability.

SOURCES:

Metro, Facebook, Facebook Inc. https://www.facebook.com/MetroUK/

“Police car flips over chasing moped near Buckingham Palace” – Joe Roberts, Metro/Associated Newspapers Limited (4 August 2018) https://metro.co.uk/2018/08/04/police-car-flips-chasing-moped-near-buckingham-palace-7799119/

IMAGE CREDIT:

“Emergency Vehicle Operator’s Course aids JBPHH first responders in arriving on time, every time” – U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Terri Paden, Pacific Air Forces (27 March 2014) http://www.pacaf.af.mil/News/Article-Display/Article/591508/emergency-vehicle-operators-course-aids-jbphh-first-responders-in-arriving-on-t/

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PHOTO MOMENT: A classic car – the 1956 Jaguar XK140 DHC

(c) WexMart243 @WexMart243 via Twitter
(c) WEXONMART, Inc.

The 1956 Jaguar XK140 DHC is one of those luxurious classic cars that evoke old-time gangsters and high-rollers highfaluting around New York‘s streets in one of those old black-and-white vintage movies. With its slender grill and large circular headlights bestowing upon the Jaguar XK140 DHC a cartoon character appearance, it is only when you take in the muscular and intense bodywork do you realise that this Jaguar is not an amusing joke. The legacy and reputation of Jaguar as a maker of cars that could dominate racing tracks at all the big circuits meant the XK140 was very much a statement of brute force in competition, yet sufficiently ordinary for the everyday driver with a fat wallet and very little time.

The XK140 series of classic cars first rolled off the production line in 1954 with the last models built in 1957, and was designed as the successor to the XK120. The model was designed to capitalise on Jaguar’s then reputation as a manufacturer of award-winning racing cars, of which one had won the Le Mans Rally in 1951. The main differences between the XK140 and XK120 Jaguars were that the former had larger bumpers with overriders and new flashing turn signals which were operated by a special switch added to the dashboard. It was also a bonus for taller drivers as an extra three inches of legroom was incorporated into the driver’s seat. In 1956 the XK140 became the first Jaguar sports car to be offered with automatic transmission. The DHC part of the car’s model name stands for Drop Head Coupe.

In 2013, the British auction house for luxury goods, Bonhams, auctioned off a maroon Jaguar XK140 DHC (1955 model) for the princely sum of £124,700 at the RAF Museum in Hendon, just outside London.

The pictures above were issued by Wexonmart, a luxury cars retailer based in Denver, United States, and the car featured was restored in 2010. It is being sold for a very massive sum of money due to the high demand for these rare classic motors among collectors and investors.

THE SPECS

(courtesy of Wexonmart)

Engine: 3400 ccm 192 HP

Rare 3-speed Borg-Warner automatic transmission

Drive type: RWD

Steering: LHD

Mileage: 900 miles

SOURCES:
“1956 Jaguar XK140 DHC” – Wexonmart Luxury Classic Cars & Gifts/WEXONMART, Inc. http://wexonmart.com/products.php?1956-jaguar-xk140-dhc&cPath=61
“Jaguar XK140” – Wikipedia/Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jaguar_XK140
“Lot 326 1955 Jaguar XK140 Drophead Coupé, Chassis no. 807164 Engine no. G3940-8” – Bonhams http://www.bonhams.com/auctions/20926/lot/326/
IMAGE CREDITS:
Vijay Shah { विजय }, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/VShah1984
WexMart243, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/WexMart243
“1956 Jaguar XK140 DHC” – Wexonmart Luxury Classic Cars & Gifts/WEXONMART, Inc. http://wexonmart.com/products.php?1956-jaguar-xk140-dhc&cPath=61

DVLA DATA SELLING SCANDAL: Motorists’ details sold to car parks for fine chasing

Scottish newspaper The Daily Record reports today that the DVLA (Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency) is under fire for allegedly selling on motorists‘ personal details, such as names and registered addresses to private car parking firms to chase unpaid fines. The DVLA’s selling of the data has controversially been said to have cost the British taxpayer £1 million to date. Drivers have expressed outrage after the DVLA processed 2.6 million requests from owners of car parks in order to put pressure on motorists who have failed to pay outstanding parking charges and fines.

The DVLA, which holds data on all registered drivers in the United Kingdom at its central offices in Swansea, Wales, has been said to have made an income of £6.7 million from the secretive data deal.

Ironically the agency was forced to pay a total of £7.6 million to furnish driver’s details to the parking firms, which caused it to have a shortfall of £900,000, all of which was made up from taxpayers’ contributions. The DVLA is believed to charge a fee of £2.50 for administrative costs to parking companies acquiring its licence data, but then each final request ended up costing £2.84 after processing.

Professor Stephen Glaister, director of the RAC Foundation – which own the RAC motoring club and driver assistance network, commented on the scandal: “Essentially you have got taxpayers bankrolling private companies.

“It is absurd that hardworking men and women are effectively subsidising private parking firms.

 

Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency
Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Rival motorist assistance company The AA (Automobile Association) also spoke out against the DVLA’s selling of people’s private details in the name of revenue making. Its spokesperson Luke Bosdet said: “It’s a double whammy of these parking enforcers chasing up every fine that they can possibly pin on the drivers to maximise their profit while costing the taxpayer for the privilege.

Hugh Bladon from the Alliance of British Drivers said: “First of all, our details should be held within the DVLA and not allowed to go anywhere except perhaps to the police.

“I’m surprised at the figures as my understanding was the DVLA were making a profit out of this. If they are making a loss they should stop.

The DVLA’s selling of its registration only came to light recently when several motorists reported receiving letters from a debt collection company and private parking ‘enforcer’ called ParkingEye. One driver in Scotland claimed to have found a ‘Parking Charge Notice’ at their home from the company. Gavin Bell opened the notice only to find he had been hit with a £85 fee after the firm claimed he overrun a pre-agreed thirty-minute stay while parked at a piece of private land in the town of Airdrie. Angered at the steep charge, Bell refused to settle the charge and made a Freedom of Information request to the DVLA after discovering they had sold his name and postal address to ParkingEye. 

Gavin, 35, from Cambuslang, near Glasgow, said: “The DVLA handed over my details with seemingly no questions asked. You would think they would have to show some kind of just cause.

“When I found out the fee for getting driver details is so low it effectively just encourages these private firms to ask for the information whether there’s any merit to the case at all, I thought it was crazy.

 “It costs more than it brings in to administer.

 

English: A car park from above.
English: A car park from above. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

The letters sent from the parking firms, which are often printed on thick, officially headed paper to people’s home addresses are made to resemble ‘statutory penalty charge notices’ in a bid to confuse and scare drivers into assuming they have broken the law and must pay up immediately. In reality, the notices hold no ground legally at all. Firms use the letters to demand immediate payment of fines and charges and threaten car owners with increases and penalty charges which can double or triple the debt, if not worse. However, these are considered as ‘civil contracts’ legally, which means that the police will not bring non-paying motorists to court and that the parking operator cannot force a driver to pay the outstanding demand unless the claim is taken to a civil court first and a summons is issued. Nevertheless the letters have proved a lucrative ‘money-spinner’ for dubious parking firms eager to claw back what they feel they are owed, and they will still send out letters even for small amounts. In fact many parking firms have been said to have struck up deals with private landowners to collect parking fees from their lands at no additional cost to the landowner.

In response to the Daily Record’s uncovering of the secret handshake of data between the DVLA and parking companies, the agency replied and acknowledged there was a shortfall in the cost. They said: “DVLA sets fees to recover costs – we do not aim to make a profit.” The scandal over the selling of private data to companies solely out to make a profit is sure to anger many drivers and the general public already shocked by governmental ineptitude over the data of citizens, including losing thousands of names and addresses on USB memory sticks and patients’ records going missing from NHS clinics and laptops. Many private companies in the UK, such as banks and retail stores will sell the debts of customers to private debt collection firms for a pittance, who then threaten debtors with legal measures and bailiffs if money owing is not cleared. Councils and other local government bodies have also sold on the contact details of people owing rent arrears to private firms for many years, legally. This is however the first time that a national-level government agency has been implicated in doing the same.

 

SOURCES:
Half-Eaten Mind, Twitter https://twitter.com/halfeatenmind
The Daily Record, Twitter https://twitter.com/Daily_Record
“Revealed: Government sell motorists’ details to private car park bosses chasing fines.. and it costs taxpayers £1million” –  Lynn McPherson, The Daily Record and Sunday Mail (27 July 2014) www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/revealed-government-sell-motorists-details-3920642?utm_medium=twitter&utm_source=twitterfeed
IMAGE CREDITS:
“File:DVLA.svg” – Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency/Kashmiri (via www.dft.gov.uk), Wikimedia Commons (28 January 2013) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:DVLA.svg
“File:Car park -8.jpg” – heartbeaz, Flickr via Wikimedia Commons (13 July 2008) http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Car_park_-8.jpg

 

COPS AND WHEELS: British police forces eye up 207mph supercar

Criminals will soon be going to find it a lot harder to outrun the police in the United Kingdom as forces will be gearing up to receive the latest weapon in their crime-fighting arsenal – a police car that can reach speeds of 207 miles per hour. Police forces across the country have registered their interest in the McLaren Spider 12C, a high-powered sports car that can reach 60 miles per hour in zero to sixty seconds. Each one costs £240,000 and comes complete with the official police livery of blue and green checks.

The Vauxhall Astra is popular with various Bri...
A Bedfordshire Police Vauxhall Astra patrol car (photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Vauxhall Astra – widely used by urban police forces, this highly durable all-purpose vehicle is usually a more sober option in police motoring choices.

The two-seaters have been unveiled this weekend at a specialist car show in Birmingham . Many police commissioners and officers hope that not only will the car keep Britain’s streets crime-free but also be an instrument in breaking down barriers between police forces and the public, especially young people. The police and many youth have had a difficult relationship – based on mutual distrust and allegations of discrimination – and the car is intended to give some cool factor to the ‘boys in blue’, according to the Metro newspaper.

Police Constable Angus Nairn, who appears on the popular TV show Motorway Cops, posed next to an advanced McLaren Spider on the side of a motorway in a special picture produced for Metro by the Anglia Press Agency. On the new wheels, PC Nairn said “Everyone who sees the McLaren wants to come and talk about it.

‘The car breaks the ice and gives us the opportunity to get across the safety message – especially about the dangers of excess speed.”

The McLaren Spider 12C comes with a 3.8 litre turbo engine with 600 brake horsepower, specifications that are normally associated with steeds owned by boy racers. The car has a contemporary streamlined shape to minimise air resistance and its size makes it easier to cut through traffic in pursuit of those who break the law. As many criminals use fast sportscars to make their getaways, and such cars are increasingly highly prized by thieves, the new police car will enable police officers to quickly apprehend wrongdoers and recover stolen sports cars faster. High-speed pursuits are becoming more and more common on the UK’s motorways, many ending in crashes that are often fatal.

McLaren 12c Spider
McLaren 12c Spider (Photo credit: Nick J Webb)

A non-police version of McLaren’s Spider 12C in its natural setting.

However despite the car possibly being the fastest vehicle in police car parks, the Spider does have some drawbacks. According to PC Nairn, it has limited boot space and comes with ‘gull-wing’ doors that open upwards and outwards, meaning the car will need plenty of space when parking. It is therefore unlikely to be used as a patrol car for everyday policing work but will most likely be a fast response vehicle for traffic divisions.

British police forces currently have a wide choice of speedy motors to choose from. One, the Subaru Impreza, widely used in Gran Turismo style car races, is well received among the police due to its sheer speed on the road and its sturdiness. Recently the Midlands police force took charge of a 168 mph Lotus Evora on a temporary two-week loan. That vehicle was billed as the fastest squad car in Britain and was also the first elite sports car to be used by a UK police force.

Despite cops being receptive to using these special cars, ordinary civilians have criticised the move as a waste of taxpayers’ money, at a time when forces are shedding jobs and making cutbacks in policing budgets. Commenters on the original Metro article were scathing in their criticism. Leigh of Nottingham wrote “What a waste of money! When the criminals they are chasing have nothing to loose (sic) ! It doesn’t matter how fast the car is !”, while Michael also condemned the spend on sport cars, saying that the McLaren Spider was a  “complete waste of tax of payers money, 1 fast car or the annual salary of 9 police officers on the beat, that must of been a hard choice for them to make”. Others derided the cars as being unsafe in pursuits and dangerous if the police officer loses control of the wheel, and that the media hype around the new police vehicles was a sign that the police were engaging in a ‘publicity stunt’ which would make little difference to combatting crime.

The UK police’s spend and interest in fast and flighty super cars is small fry compared to the huge selection available to the Dubai police in the United Arab Emirates. A Dubai copper on patrol can choose from a dizzying array of finely-tuned models including a $450,000 Lamborghini Aventador, as well as garages full of Bentleys and Ferraris. They even hunt down criminals in the oil-rich state using the Dubai force’s most expensive purchase yet, a $1.4 million Aston Martin. All cars are kitted out with the local police livery of white with a large dark green racing stripe running round the vehicle’s body.

SOURCES:
“Nowhere to run: Police unveil new plan to stop crime… a £240k supercar that can do 0-60mph in three seconds” – Evan Bartlett, Metro/Associated Newspapers Limited (11 January 2014) LINK
“Flying squad is here: Midlands force’s latest patrol car is a 168mph Lotus” – Charlotte Gill, Mail Online/Associated Newspapers Ltd. (15 January 2011) LINK
“Dubai’s multi-million dollar fleet of police cars includes Aston Martins, Bentleys, Ferraris and Lamborghinis” – Nick Kurczewski, New York Daily News – Driver’s Dashboard/NYDailyNews.com (30 May 2013) LINK
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DESIGN YOUR OWN NUMBER PLATES: The Half-Eaten Mind’s personalised registrations

By Vijay Shah

In the James Bond film Goldfinger, the well-spoken secret agent drives to his missions in an Aston Martin DB5 luxury motor with a distinctive feature – a revolving set of number plates (license plates). At the flick of a button, 007 can choose from one of three plates. The personalised registrations for that car, now in the hands of a private collector, include “JB 007”, “007JB” and “GOLDFINGER”. The  plates proved to be a very useful tool for Bond to give his enemies, and the authorities, the slip.

James Bond’s Swiss number plate (c) The Telegraph

Personalised number plates are a popular, and undeniably lucrative side branch of the motoring accessories industry in many countries around the globe, most notably the United Kingdom and the United States. Registrations sold by the DVLA (Britain’s governmental authority for vehicle registration) can sell for hundred of pounds, and auction prices can pass the £1,000 mark. For many motorists, the opportunity to forego the bog standard pattern of formulaic and impersonal numbers and letters, and try something more tailor-made, is too hard to resist. Over here, people can choose a series of characters that might reflect their name or a humorous phrase – a standard also reflected among purchasers of so-called ‘vanity plates’ in the United States.

Unlike the US, drivers here can even add logos, such as the Ferrari stallion or national flags to the left of their plates. Until recently many high street plate makers offered to use a non-standard font for your personalised set on request, despite it is illegal to use them on the highway. Traffic police quite happily fine any drivers caught using them.

This article-slash-gallery owes its existence to a boring Tuesday evening, where while randomly typing things into Google, I stumbled across two websites. One site, DemonPlates.com, offers UK acrylic number plates and has an inbuilt widget where you can cook up your own personalised plates for local use only. The other site, LicensePlates.tv, proved to be even more exciting, as you can create based on templates from most of the world’s countries, including vintage plates from the States and official registrations for many EU member states.

The plate-maker software (c) Licenseplates.tv

Although I do not drive and hold only a passing-but-still-curious interest in cars generally, I could not resist the chance to try out the sites’ software and see what I would come up with. I opted to use combinations of my name or initials, or the acronym of this blog for various plates all of which are featured below. Designing your own plates online has its fun points, whether or not you are planning to turn them into physical reality. The software is free to use on both sites sampled for this post, and make great social network pictures to show your mates or as decorative pieces for a personal website or blog.

DEMONPLATES.COM

A set of British plates with the post-2001 slender font, which by law has to carry characters 79 mm high and 50 mm wide. Unlike most countries, UK vehicles’ front plates are always with a white background, while the back plate is yellow. This also used to be the case in France until a few years ago. “VI J4Y” is my first name, Vijay, with a number four substituting the letter A for stylistic effect. This is a common convention for personalised plates in Great Britain.

The left of each plate carries the EU star banner and the ISO code GB for ‘Great Britain’ and a small Union Flag. Though it is not as yet compulsory, European Union member states are encouraged to use the EU flag side design with the individual country’s initials in their main language i.e. E for Spain or B for Belgium.

The “The Half-Eaten Mind – Stratford, LDN” legend at the bottom is an obliging nod to this great blog, but most standard plates would normally have the plate maker’s or car vendor’s name and contact details here.


A slightly different take on the previous set. Here I have opted for a 3-D effect with the lettering and the inscription ‘VSHAH 84′ – my first initial and surname bulked together, and the numerals are for my year of birth. As I am English, my innate patriotism took over the creative ‘steering wheel’ and the Union Jack makes way for the banner of St. George.

LICENSEPLATES.TV

With these designs I decided to venture out of my comfort zone and try my hand at creating number plates using international designs, some of which I have never seen before, never mind experimented with. I have listed all the pictures in alphabetical order of  format country origin.

ABU DHABI (U.A.E): A design from one of the Arabian peninsula’s premier marque hotspots; the emirate of Abu Dhabi. The 6 in white on the red section is a plate series category. The red colour signifies that the vehicle was registered in Abu Dhabi City itself. The Arabic inscription reads “al-Emiraat Abu Dhabi” (The emirate of Abu Dhabi). The lettering ‘HEM12‘  is the initials of the Half-Eaten Mind blog plus this year’s last two digits.

AUSTRIA: While as far as I am aware Austrian plates do not look like this one jot, this gives you an idea of the typical European style of registration. ‘HEM 2011‘ is the blog’s initials again as above. I was meant to type in 2012, but must have hit the wrong key on my keyboard. A relatively minor mistake compared to the ‘awesomeness’ of this plate of central Europe. As with the UK plates from Demonplates.com, you have the pan-European blue siding but with the Austrian flag and its country code.

AZERBAIJAN: The European long format is widely used outside of the continent. In this non-official plate representing the Caucasus republic of Azerbaijan, the website substitutes its own generic format for Azerbaijan’s own standard, but at least this time I got the year right. Tee-hee. The European shade of blue is a peculiarity here as Azerbaijan is not in the EU. I cannot explain that anomaly.

BELGIUM: Belgian plates are unusually smaller compared with their neighbours, and the red-on-white colour scheme is also highly divergent. UK trade plates for cars being exported come in similar colours but are not for permanent use. The inscription ‘VYS-108‘ is my initials teamed with a sacred number in my Hindu faith. A similar thing is used by some Muslim car owners in the UK, who use ‘786’ to represent a verse in their scripture, the Qur’an.

CHINA (People’s Republic): From the world’s most populous nation, comes this simple beauty. The ideogram on the left represents  Shanghai, the city of registration, then you have my initials, followed by my full year of birth.

COLOMBIA: The number plates of Colombia have that ‘friendly chicken farmer on a dusty road’ nuance about them and they have a generous size. ‘VIJ 123‘ relates to a nickname and a shortened form of my first name, the numbers were a handy, but random selection. Notice the holes for screwing in the plate to the bumper, which I think just adds to the rugged look.

DUBAI (U.A.E.): Returning to the United Arab Emirates, here is a ‘special edition’ from the desert paradise of glitz and money that is Dubai. Each of the seven emirates that make up the UAE has its own vehicle registration authority which is often under the direct control of the individual emirate’s police force. Therefore each emirate calls the shots when it comes to plate designs/formats. Running from left to right, there are my initials, the emirate’s name in Arabic and Roman scripts followed by a six-digit code which is my birth date. Normally this would be a series of numbers identifying the car itself.

GERMANY: From Europe’s engineering and vehicle-manufacturing giant, home to Mercedes-Benz, here is the Half-Eaten Mind’s re-interpretation of a Teutonic plate for use by motorbikes. European number plates for the back of motorcycles tend to be squat rather than long for practical reasons. This plate carries the standard EU flag motif with code D for ‘Deutschland’. The ‘HEM 1984-V‘ is my blog’s initials, then my year of birth, followed by V for Vijay. The logos next to the ‘HEM’ are in real life the location of two badges, one containing temporal details of the vehicle’s registration, the bottom one for a badge with the shield of the German state where the vehicle was registered.

HOLLAND (NETHERLANDS): Dutch plates are always issued with black letters on a yellow background for both sides of the vehicle and carry EU markings, with country code NL for ‘Nederland’. The inscription ‘VS-VS-84‘ follows the country’s numbering conventions, and
is my initials repeated twice and then last 2 digits of my birth year.

ICELAND: This beautiful sub-Arctic island of geysers and glaciers lies outside the European Union but still uses EU-like plates. This is a modern design incorporating the Icelandic flag and country code IS for Island (not ‘island’ even though Iceland IS an island; this is the country’s self-designation in its own tongue). ‘VS H3M‘ is my and the blog’s initials together on one plate, but I use my country’s convention of replacing a letter with a similar-looking number. In the middle there is a registration decal or sticker which shows that my imaginary vehicle was registered in October of 2010. I can not help but point out that this plate’s colour scheme reminds of me of cold wintry ice. Silly I know.

IRAQ: Iraq has been through many difficult changes and challenges in recent years, so this number plate is  my small way of showing a side to a country that is normally only in the news for bombings and sectarian violence. This design is a highly-ornate and expressive affair. The Arabic inscription I think reads “Iraq – Baghdad”, but hopefully a Brainiac fluent in written Arabic can clarify that for me. The four Arabic numerals read ‘1984‘ – my year of birth. Notice the pink-and-grey motif with the palm tree and the word ‘IRAQ’ and the elegant cursive script employed for the wording.

JAPAN: From the Far East, here is a plate from the Gunma prefecture in the centre of Japan’s archipelago. I got to familiarise myself with plates from this nation through my childhood diet of late night anime cartoons. Japan follows a similar size convention to their neighbours across the Pacific Ocean, but the content is entirely different. Japanese plates are issued through a network of government-run Land Transportation Offices. The 108 at the plate’s top is normally a number series (first digit) then the vehicle’s own identifier. The bottom larger numbers which I have replaced with my year of birth are indicators of the vehicle’s dimensions in the real deal. The colour scheme is for a private-owned vehicle. The Kanji characters are the name of the issuing office. The little ‘hiragana’ letter on the left is randomly assigned.

Did you know that Japan has plates with backlit number plates (the numbers themselves glow like neon lighting) since 1970 – available in blue or green. As far as I know, it is the only country to have such a futuristic take on such a workaday object, but then this is Japan.

LEBANON: An interesting specimen; this plate is a metallic meeting of East and West. A bilingual plate with 2 different alphabets with the Lebanese cedar all on a Euro format. The cedar serves as the coat-of-arms on a EU blue canton. The five number combo is repeatedly twice on the plate in both Western and Arab numeric (my birth date) with the country name in French (Liban) and Arabic (Lubnan). Both these languages are in official use for Lebanon.

LITHUANIA: Where I live in east London, Lithuanian registered vehicles with these kinds of registration plates are quite common, owing to the large Lithuanian community that has built up here in the past 15 years or so. This is not an entirely accurate or even up-to-date representation of the typical Lithuanian plate. The round hologram that sits between the letters is absent here and Lithuanian now uses the EU-style motif after its accession to the union in May 2004. In this mockup, there is the Lithuanian flag and ISO code LT – Lietuva. The inscription of ‘JAY 777‘ is my sisters’ nickname for me, plus the lucky number 7 repeated thrice for extra good luck.

MAURITIUS: In honour of my maternal homeland, I have included here a stylised Mauritian plate. The real plates on the island look nothing like this. Private vehicles have silver or white lettering and taxis have black lettering on white. There is no flag or blue motif. But the flag is a beauty in itself and here I have put in ‘VIJ 1984‘ my nickname plus year of birth.

MONACO: This tiny principality on the Mediterranean is an extension of the French Riviera, only it is not French. Occupying only a few square kilometres, the city-state is famed as a tax haven with liberal gambling laws and has been drawing in a jet-set clientele for decades. As there are few car owners in Monaco, a long line of characters is not needed. The shield of alternating red-and-white diamonds is a symbol of the Grimaldi clan who are suppliers of Monaco’s influential royal family. These colours also are to be found in the Monegasque flag. Underneath is a French inscription which translates as ‘Principality of Monaco’. ‘HEM12‘ is the blog’s initials followed by 12 for this year of 2012. This number plate would look great on a Ferrari or a top-end BMW but realistically my budget does not yet extend to such luxurious modes of transportation.

MONGOLIA: From Genghis Khan’s birthplace we bring you this ornate, yet minimalist. Mongolian plates are inscribed with Cyrillic lettering instead of Roman, although the Cyrillic alphabet is a legacy of communist rule and the native script  – written downwards rather than lengthways – is fast reclaiming its rightful place. The red symmetrical device is the national symbol, the Soyonbo. An ancient symbol associated with the local variant of Buddhism, its yellow cousin is to be found on the country’s flag. The inscription ‘1984 BC’ has the Cyrillic way of writing my initials. BC=VS.

PHILIPPINES: The Asian continent’s only Roman Catholic country was ruled for nearly half a century by the Americans and retains US conventions for its plates. I have once again graced this picture with our hallowed blog’s acronym followed by those lucky Number Sevens. ‘Pilipinas’ is Tagalog for Philippines.

SAN MARINO: The inhabitants of this small and ancient European republic completely surrounded by Italy can, like the people of Monaco, not have to worry about memorising a long line of characters should they ever have to report a hit-and-run driver. San Marino makes full use of glorious Technicolor in its coat-of-arms reproduced on every one of its plates, and this virtual San Marino plate reflects those two circumstances faithfully.

SWEDEN: Coming back to the European Union (and Scandinavia), here is the Half-Eaten Mind’s take on a plate from Sweden. We have the usual Euro flag and country identifier, and the 108 of Hinduism also makes a return. The sticker in the middle should be in colour, but the site did not offer that option, possibly for copyright reasons.

SWITZERLAND: Swiss plates are a work of art in themselves. All plates carry two shields. One is a white cross on a red facade. This represents the Swiss Confederation. The other shield is for the canton (sub-division) where the plate was created. The example above is for the canton of Aargau. Inscription is my initials followed by 5-digit birth date.

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: The plates of the States are a collector’s treasure trove in themselves worthy of their own branch of study. Each state has responsibility for its own plate designs, and the flexibility is at such a level that modern US plates carry all kinds of fancy slogans and imagery. These plates featured above are all vintage designs mostly from the 1950s and 1960s, and make a great wall decoration in American-themed bars and restaurants. Modern plates carry registration stickers in the top corners which have to be changed when the licence expires, and can have backgrounds that reflect the issuing state’s heritage or culture.

 
VENEZUELA: To round off this article and to celebrate the glory of the Half-Eaten Mind’s licence plate creativity, here is a regulation-standard plate of Venezuela. While it is never my intention to be narcissistic, I do hope that the Mind will one day be number 1 in the blogosphere…this could well be my motivation!.

SOURCES:

“List of James Bond Vehicles” – Wikipedia LINK

“Plates Rules and Legal Requirements” – New Reg LINK

“License Plate Colours” – Abu Dhabi Woman LINK

“Vehicle registration plates of Japan” – Wikipedia LINK

IMAGE CREDITS:

“Aston Martin DB5 driven by James Bond among the classic cars at the Automobiles of London auction” – Oli Scarff – Getty Images/Telegraph.co.uk Motoring LINK 

LicencePlates.tv LINK

DemonPlates LINK