Norman Hawkes became a self-confessed car registrations ‘anorak’ at an even younger age than most of the enthusiasts from whom we receive correspondence. The fascination endured and, as an adult, Norman managed to secure his perfect number plate, 1 NEH.
“As a small boy I had a wooden cart with this registration number painted on. Quite by chance I spotted it for sale in 1971. Those were the days before registrations became big business, with ads in The Sunday Times etc. The number was still on its original Morris Minor. I bought it there and then and have had it on all sorts of cars since.”
Since 1991, 1 NEH has adorned Norman’s striking (and rare) red 1965 TVR Trident.
Norman has a strong preference for the older, dateless number plate formats. He considers them historically significant, and far more interesting than the more recent styles with their built-in year codes.
“I don’t like these ‘age-related’ plates the DVLA give out at all. They look all wrong to me. “I really don’t like the new system much.
I shouldn’t really say this because, believe it or not (and most don’t), I actually came up with the whole system back in the early 1980s when the DVLA asked for ideas for a new format. At that time, they just reversed the old suffix system, as I knew they would. But then, when the prefixes ran out, they dusted off my proposal.
The only differences were that my system was based on the original two-letter codes, in order to keep a link back to 1904, and my year-numbers would only change once a year, running from 1st January to 31st December: something that countries like Ireland now seem to be able to manage perfectly well… although we can’t, for some reason.
“I still have all the letters, so I can actually prove what I say but, of course, the DVLA deny I had any involvement!”