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Following the issue of the last of the dateless number plates, suffix registrations introduced a new feature to registration plates - the year identifier.
The suffix registration plate system ran from 1963 to 1982. Prior to 1963, registration marks were dateless - not carrying any kind of easily recognisable year identifier. Suffix number plates made the age of the vehicle known by attaching a year identifying letter to the end of the number plate. This began with 'A' in 1963, and a new letter was issued every subsequent year until 'Y' was reached in 1982. After 1982, when the suffix letters had been exhausted, the system changed and prefix number plate registrations were introduced.
Some letters were not used in the suffix number plate system; for example I, O, Q, U and Z were never issued. 'I' and 'Z' were reserved for Northern Ireland, 'O' was thought to too closely resemble zero, 'Q' was used but only on vehicles where their date of manufacture was in doubt, and 'U' appeared too much like 'V' for use on suffix car reg plates.
Suffix number plates consist of three letters followed by a one, two, or three digit number with a year-letter identifier at the end.
The three letters identify what would have been the original area of issue for the car registration. 'ABH', for example, originated in Buckinghamshire, 'CHN' would suggest Darlington. Paired with the age identifying letter (the suffix), it would originally have been possible to identify the age and area the vehicle displaying the number plate originated from - combinations like CGO ***B, CGO ***H, CGO ***S and CGO ***X were issued in 1964, 1969, 1978 and 1981 respectively in London.
This table shows the year of issue for each suffix letter.
|SUFFIX||YEAR OF RELEASE|
Because the format of suffix registration plates presents three letters first, suffix registrations can offer some very attractive choices as personalised number plates. Short names, such as PAT and TOM, are highly sought after - so much so that when the DVLA began selling prefix car registrations they stopped the issuing of registrations that spelled names like these as replacement age related marks.
Suffix number plates represent excellent opportunities for both enjoyment and number plate investment - as cherished private plates provide an interesting alternative to prefix registrations as well as a cheaper alternative to dateless number plates.
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