Taking some four years to research and compile, Car Number Classics is the definitive book for all those interested in the history of motoring; or in cars and bikes in general – both ancient and modern.
More specifically, the book is full of information and illustrations on the subject of number plates in the United Kingdom. Starting at A 1, Part I contains over 1,000 detailed biographies of the original owners of the first eleven numbers (and sometimes beyond) issued by every authority in the United Kingdom as of 1st January 1904* and for which records have survived. Wherever possible, photographs include a then and now element with the same number shown on its present car and on its original vehicle.
This section of the book is indexed by owners’ names, and readers may well be surprised to find one of their ancestors among them. Tinker,Tailor, Soldier, Sailor, Rich Man, Poor Man, Beggar man, Thief - they are almost all here. So, too, are the violent deaths; the suicides; attempted murders; infidelities, bankruptcies and mysterious disappearances. The book is designed to be informative but entertaining throughout; and some of the scandals and tragedies that befell our Edwardian ancestors are fascinating to read. Here’s an edited extract from the story of one of the more eccentric of them:
Alan Hickman had a fascination for electrics and mechanical transport. By the age of seventeen, he was working as an electrical engineer for a motor car company, and it is hardly surprising that he would have his own car at the time of compulsory registration. He does not seem to have been superstitious and was happy to have it registered DU 13. To say Alan was eccentric is an understatement. He became obsessed with trains and railways, and fell in love with France. He changed the name of the house to La France and on the 1911 census form, he described himself as British by Parentage but “French at Heart”. As far as his occupation went, he described himself as “Railway observer and automobile expert”. He secured a season ticket from Wolverhampton to Penzance via Paddington, and travelled all over the country on a daily basis wearing a peaked cap and mackintosh, and carrying a railwayman’s basket. He made a point of logging every journey. Alan finally ran out of steam in January 1931. The funeral arrangements were carried out by the Divisional Superintendent of the Great Western Railway, and the station master at Wolverhampton. The coffin was carried by two railway guards, two firemen and two ticket collectors. After the service, Alan’s body was taken by his favourite locomotive The Cornishman to the Key Hill Cemetery in Birmingham; the end of the line at last. His executor was William Sherbrooke who was well qualified for the job; he was (of course) a railway guard.
Part II of the same book brings us up to date and includes photographs of the unusual zero issues; diplomatic plates; many of the existing single and two-letter issues; some DVLA issues; as well as photographs from the Veteran Car Club’s London to Brighton Runs. It also includes a brief history of the various registration systems used in the United Kingdom over the years, and the number of vehicles registered by each authority as at June 1904.
In addition to detailed biographies of the original owners, full details of the original and present vehicles (where records are available) are also given - as in this example
Full Name of Owner, and Postal Address of his usual Residence:
Edward Ground B.A., M.D. 1, Ashford Road, Maidstone. Registered 30th November 1903 to a 7 H.P. New Orleans. Phaeton body with seat behind. Painted dark green colour. Weight unladen: 11 cwt. Intended use: private and business.
Present vehicle: 2012 Rolls-Royce Ghost in white. 6.592 cc. Owned by London Chauffeuring car hire.
The book comprises over 1300 pages with full colour illustrations throughout (except the early 20th century images for obvious reasons!). But even if you have no particular interest in number plates, anyone with an interest in cars or social or local history will find this book difficult to put down. Dip in, as and when you have a few minutes to spare, or read it from cover to cover - either way, this could be the most entertaining book you have read this year.
The book is available now at £39 if bought direct from the author (plus p&p £8.50).
To order a copy, contact the publisher email@example.com or call 020 8998 0007.
It is also available on eBay @ £45 plus p&p– just search “Car Number Classics“ (include the quotation marks in your search).
Cheques for £47.50 (which includes p&p) per copy should be made payable to Crawfords and posted to 11 Lakeside Ealing London W13 3BH. Please ensure you provide your name, address and contact telephone number in clear block capitals. Credit card orders can be taken by telephone by calling 020 8998 0007.
* Where no records survive, information has been gleaned from other sources. The book includes details of all those two-letter marks allotted in England and Wales (which, as of 1st January 1904, stopped at FP) plus all single letters to Y. For practical reasons (sheer size of the book!) we have stopped the Irish and Scottish series at the same point (i.e. FI and ES – FS being a much later issue anyway), but we have included the single-letter Scottish issues G; S; and V). The remaining Irish and Scottish marks will be covered in CAR NUMBER CLASSICS VOLUME II if there is sufficient interest.
WHAT REVIEWERS AND CUSTOMERS SAY:
"This book could only be the result of a labour of love and the author's enthusiasm for his subject shines through on every page. It is well written and well researched and I feel will appeal not only to owners of old cars or owners of cherished numbers but anyone with even a passing interest in cars in general
“A must for the bookshelf.” - The Veteran Car Club
“A thrilling insight to the world of the bigamists, the agitators, the gamblers the habitual womanisers and, of course, the scorchers. Although the scandals are perhaps the most amusing side of the story, there is so much more here to enjoy…a highly readable, amusing and frequently fascinating insight into a lost world.” - The Automobile
“I must say your book will be of enormous help to us and will be a brilliant addition to the Library.” – ROYAL AUTOMOBILE CLUB PALL MALL
“This is a book that everyone can enjoy, regardless of their interest in classic motoring – even DVLA has bought a copy. Read it from cover to cover, or simply open the pages at random and dip in. Educational, historical and compelling. A perfect bedtime read...”. ROLLS-ROYCE ENTHUSIASTS CLUB magazine”
“Written in a lively and often amusing style, Nicholas Young has somehow achieved in five years what would have taken the average person a lifetime. A splendid work, and unquestionably worth every penny...” - VINTAGE SPORTS-CAR CLUB
“Don’t be misled by the title, there’s just tons of interest for the veteran motorcycle enthusiast in this tome. The book is really entertaining; at well over 1,000 pages I certainly do not profess to having read the whole thing, but it succeeded in keeping me greatly entertained.”- Old Bike Mart
“What a fantastic book it is. I cannot imagine how much time it took to complete such a comprehensive book - the information with photographs is quite outstanding.”
“We have received our copy of the new book 'Car Number Classics' and would like to say that we are most pleased with it thank you. It is by far the biggest book on registration numbers we have ever seen, but contains so much valuable and useful information. The work and detail in the book certainly is a credit to you.”
“What a book...more an encyclopaedia of incredible scope. Each page I have looked at is a delight with its information or illustrations; you have produced a wonderful work that surely couldn't be bettered.”
“Thanks for a copy of your book which I received in perfect condition this morning. It certainly exceeds all expectations. Wow what a read this will be, such a wealth of history and information, I've already lost my morning to it!”
“I have just received your book - and am delighted with it - it is a very useful, informative and interesting reference work - I love social history associated with motoring - it is right up my street.”
“It's great that you got this book together. I can't tell you how impressed I am. It's a great volume that not only chronicles some of the great number owner families, but also some beautiful heritage vehicles and one-offs along the way. It's quite obvious that you have invested a lot of personal time in producing this beautiful compendium.”
“I have spent the last hour delving into it and all I can say is 'WOW'.”
“The work that has gone in to this is absolutely mind boggling ... the detail is astounding ... you have to be congratulated for seeing it through right to the end. May I wish you all the luck in the world as far as sales are concerned ... you certainly deserve it."
“Super Book! Absolutely stunning. Lavishly illustrated, throughout, this is THE book to complete your collection. A little pricey yes but ‘wow’ what a book. It’s truly gargantuan in size and weight! I cannot emphasise how pleased I was, hours of reading. Please get this book!!”
“WOW, this is an amazing accomplishment, huge amount of information…”
“I couldn't put the book down last night till about midnight ! Fascinating…”
“What a labour of love! A fantastic book, can't recommend it enough.”
“I have started getting in to your book and I must say I think it is an incredible achievement.”
“I don't know how you could have done it in only 5 years and after all that be thinking about more volumes!”
“I was impressed not only by its weight, but certainly more by its contents! It's a goldmine for me as a veteran car historian because of the numerous photos of early cars including one of a rare, early Spyker. Certainly it is incomparable to anything else in my library!”
“I opened you book on Christmas day and have been enjoying since then. I have concentrated on references to Irish numbers and those others associated with Ireland. Very interesting indeed, thank you.”
“I am thoroughly enjoying dipping into it, and will do so for years to come.”
“I admire your industry and perseverance - you have produced a fascinating book which will be treasured by all Autonumerologists.”
“I must congratulate you on producing such a fantastic book. It will keep me engrossed for many evenings to come.”
“My father kindly gave me a copy of your book for Christmas, it is superb."
“The book is fabulous.”
“What a labour of love! A fantastic book, can't recommend it enough.”