Brief explanation of the number plate (license plate) system:
Plates are assigned to a vehicle when it is first registered. They have a year identifier so you can tell how old the vehicle is*.
I’m not going too far back in history, so I’m only explaining the latest two systems here.
From 1983, the plate looked like A 123 BCD.
The “A” is the year designator. That incremented by one letter each year (certain letters like I, O, U, Z etc were left out).
The numbers are issued consecutively. Numbers 1-20 and special ones like 111 and 999 were held back as “cherished” plates.
The group of three letters (actually the last two of these letters) are assigned to vehicle registration offices. So, e.g. A 453 FTH and A 165 NTH come from the same area.
Actually, from about “T” the letters were changed every six months instead of every year, the upshot being that we ran out, with “Y” being the letter for the first half of 2001. (In fact, Mar-Aug 2001. This system was designed by British civil servants…)
So, the current system was introduced. This looks like AB 04 CDE.
The first two letters are local identifiers, with the first letter identifying the big region (e.g. L for London, S for Scotland etc) and the second the individual office.
The numbers are the year, being the last two digits of the year for March to August, and the last two digits plus 50 for September to the following February. So we are currently on 04, which will change to 54 from 1st Sep, and then to 05 next March. Stupidly, we missed the 01 as we were still using the old “Y”, so we started in Sep 2001 with 51. Go figure.
The last three letters are random.
So, you see, it is not often get a meaningful plate. And any that do look promising are held back by the DVLA (licencing authority) to sell at a huge price.
For example, AA 51 NGH went for a big price, no doubt to some wealthy Indian businessman.
- Not strictly true, as you can buy a cherished plate and put it on a car, but only if it is older than or the same age as the car. You can’t make the car look newer than it is, by, for instance, putting an Y plate on a 1995 car.