Sunday, December 3, 2017

Front number plates.

This photo, taken last year at Barbagallo, was left by Phil Lowe for us to contemplate while he was away in Las Vegas at the SEMA conference where he had the opportunity to see such masterpieces up close, like this RX7.
But it's the MGC in the foreground that caught my eye. The front numberplate is a sticker on the leading edge of the power bulge. An excellent idea when you don't have a front bumper.We're not allowed to do that anymore here in SA, so our Western neighbours are very lucky. My MK.5 had a plate like that.
I remember driving through the parklands one day when a police car appeared out of nowhere and the driver pulled me over. The usual "what have I done this time?" was going through my mind. It turned out to be nothing more than "nice looking car you've got there, what is it?" followed by all the usual questions like "what'll it do?" Still being wary, I said "35 mph around town and 70 out on the open road. Despite him calling me a smartarse things went fairly smoothly after that until I pointed out that nobody else apart from a cop has the right to pull someone over just to look at their car. His response then was to book me for displaying an inappropriate number plate. This fine was open to dispute as the "offence" was at the discretion of the issuing officer and was designed for unreadable numbers but I was a bit worried about biting off more than I could chew and paid the bill without argument. I continued with the same stick-on plate for the next 2 or 3 years until I took the Mk.5 off the road. My next Bolwell was B8/26 and that too carried a number sticker without incident.
Homemade number plates were another story but they too were tolerated.
As were the plastic plates that you saw on prestige cars and supplied by Bryson Industries on all brand new Jags that had individual letters glued to the backing plate and looked very smart. However it all came to an end when the department got their own plates made and created a monopoly by making it illegal to display number plates that were not issued by the Registrar of Motor Vehicles as per this newspaper clipping that Beven placed in the February 1996 Slipstream.
This also allowed them to charge an exorbitant price for the plates with a captive market.

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