Thread Rating:
  • 0 Votes - 0 Average
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Finding out the registration number
I wonder if anyone else within Austin Seven circles has attempted what I am about to embark on. Let's see.....

When my brother and I bought our barn find Mk1 Ruby back in 1987, there was no front number plate and the one to the rear was so badly rusted that it was no longer possible to discern what it once said. With no actual knowledge of the original number, the then owner had understandably obtained an age-related number from the DVLA. At that time, it seems that neither of us had any particular interest in finding out more about the vehicle's past, plus of course we didn't then have the advantages that the internet can bring to such matters.

As per another thread, I am currently engaged in a long running situation with the DVLA over this car's identity, which has triggered me to think about what potential for research might exist. In the first of my pictures below, a bit blurry, we can see fragments of the painted digits that remained on the plate, which was at the time bolted to the bumper. Remembering that we re-used the same plate, overpainting it with Hammerite and then painting the age-related number by hand, it occurred to me yesterday that there could be some mileage in stripping off the paint and looking for 'ghost' markings as a means of identifying the original number. It stands to reason that the surface of the metal could be in marginally better condition underneath where the letters and numbers once were, simply due to the extra layer of paint. 

Modern paint stripper isn't as powerful as the old stuff and a lot of patience is required, particularly as I don't want to disturb what's underneath more than necessary, so I've only managed a small patch so far. I'll do some more in stages as time permits. Where I've scraped away the 'V', we can already see a diagonal mark that intercepts the 'S'. There's also a small patch of paint in the open part of the '3'. What we don't know just yet is which way up the plate would have been, as we transferred it from the bumper to the boot lid when we re-used it.

Another thing that occurs to me is that if I can decipher just the letters, which could be either two or three given the age of the car, this might point me towards the county in which the car was registered, with the obvious potential to search through those records should they happen to still exist. I'm aware this can vary from county to county, so fingers crossed.



You could try Fake or Fortune techniques, there is Infrared Radiation, Microscopy, Multispectral Scanning, Raman Laser Spectoscropy, X Radiation, and even X-Ray Flouresence! I should ring Fiona Bruce. Cool Cool
That's actually a very good point and something for me to keep in mind. I recall something along very similar lines from many years ago. A friend of mine owned a Ford Escort, on which the front end had been re-sprayed. Under natural light, the new paint was a perfect match for the old, but underneath a street lamp at night, the car became two distinctly different colours!
At the risk of suggesting you should contact an old man with a pointy hat covered in stars...... clear moonlight works wonders to bring out stuff hidden under new letters/numbers. Tilt the plate around and the soft light with no background glare usually reveals the numbers underneath.

Well done Greig. I was going to suggest it but didn't for fear of ridicule! In the early '70s I had a similar problem to Ian's and actually contacted the Nottingham Police Forensic people for help. They took the problem seriously but couldn't actually assist. However one of their senior bods did suggest the moonlight trick which I found incredulous. The plate was far too gone however.
Infrared is a longer wavelength than visible light, so materials like paint that appear opaque or colored become see-through when hit with IR rays and light.

That's how people discover paintings beneath paintings.
I bought an ultraviolet torch when I was trying to decipher the marking on something (I forget what). They can work quite well where visible paint or print has worn off but other residue remains.
Do you have the original spare wheel cover?  This might have had the original number painted in the space provided?  On my car, there was matt black and possibly the number painted in this space, but I lost any number there when I removed all the paint back to bare metal using the very efficient paint remover available in 1997.

Copying the photos into Word or Photoshop or similar allows contrast, brightness, sharpness etc to be altered, plus other effects to be tried, which might reveal something not immediately obvious in the pictures?

Revealing the registration number won’t help you with the DVLA unless you
also have a log book. I have the T-shirt, I even had a tax disc and an MOT
But nothing to tie it to my clear number plates.

The age of the car, can be worked out from the chassis no, assuming you can finds a stamping or the alloy plate that carries the chassis number. Other threads will advise how to find it on a Ruby.

Wyatts book gives lists of chassis no’s vs dates which will tell you the year.

Your local Austin Seven Club can give you a letter based on the chassis no which should alllw DVLA to give
You an age related number , possibly a “BF 9xxx “ mark

Search the forum for BF ( also known as the Dorsetshire bloody fool mark!!!

PM me if you want chapter and verse on dealing with DVLA.


Bill G

Aka AllAlloyCup

Sorry I reread your posting and perhaps you’ve got a V5C?

Very few authorities have records and even then DVLA don’t always play ball.


Bill G
Based near the Scottish Border, 
Hi Bill,

Thank you. I'm only attempting to research the history of my vehicle; something I've not previously done during 32 years of ownership, hence the present activity isn't directly related to my ongoing saga with the DVLA. The chassis number is properly stamped on both the chassis plate and on the nearside chassis rail behind the engine.

Forum Jump:

Users browsing this thread: 1 Guest(s)