Finding the Make of a British Car

One of the most popular posts on this blog is DVLA Vehicle Enquiry. It’s second only to my non-informative post on the rumoured Nikon Coolpix P7000 camera.

In the DVLA Vehicle Enquiry post I comment that you need to know the vehicle’s make as well as its registration mark (license plate) to do a search. Well, I found a way around that due to a Flickr friend. (This is a reason people love Flickr – there are people on Flickr knowledgable about everything under the sun, including my nerdy interests.)

It came about because I saw a British registration plate on the back of a Daihatsu Hijet songtheaw (small bus with two rows of seats) in Bangkok. I posted the picture to Flickr with a comment that I’d like to find out what the plate was originally attached to.

How do I know L336VGK is a British registration? What can I say? I am a nerd of the first degree.

GB Plate on a Bangkok Songtheaw
I got a couple of answers. One Flickr friend suggested I try the web site Unfortunately it didn’t know anything about L336VGK.

Someone else suggested the venerable Royal Automobile Club (RAC). (The Queen calls them when her Bentley State Limousine breaks down).

Bentley State Limousine

Bentley State Limousine

The RAC has a service where you can find out the history of a vehicle. It’s intended to help people buying a used car. One “check” costs £14.99. That’s over 800 Baht! The Bangkok Frugal Photographer does not pay that kind of money for his nerdly inquiries: he doesn’t like to pay anything.

Fortunately my Flickr friend told me that you don’t need to pay to verify the vehicle’s make. They give that to you free to ensure you typed the registration correctly.

So here are the steps.

  • Go to the RAC Web Site Car Check here.
  • Select “Buy 1 Check – Just £14.99”. Don’t worry, you will not have to pay.
  • That takes you to a RAC partner web site which shows a screen like this:

RAC Vehicle Details 1

  • You enter the registration number in the text box. It’s officially a Vehicle Registration Mark (VRM) and click “Check”.
  • Then you some to this screen:

RAC Vehicle Details 2

  • You have to solve the two character captcha. That hinders an even greater nerd than me writing a program to perform the checks.
  • Then you click the “Show” button, NOT the “Buy Now” button.
  • If you have solved the captcha correctly you get a screen like this:

RAC Vehicle Details 3

  • There’s the vehicle’s make. L336VGK was originally on a Volkswagen Caravelle something like this:

  • If you want to find out a bit more you can take the Make = Volkswagen, VRM = L336VGK to the DVLA Web Site and click on “Vehicle Enquiry” on the left toolbar.
  • You enter the information thus:

DVLA Vehicle Check 1

  • And you get this:

DVLA Vehicle Check 2

  • So the vehicle is not currently licensed in the UK. I expect it was exported, perhaps to Thailand. They are both RHD countries. I have seen several cars with GB plates under their new Thai plates (as a mark of distinction I guess). In this case the VW’s owner may have given the old front plate (rear plates are black on yellow) to her friend the songtheaw driver.
  • And 15 years later, a photo of it ends up on the internet. Isn’t the world amazing?

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