please empty your brain below

Well it sure beats fishing (LB and wife LD, both 59).
T has been used for Scotland along with S, but apparently only in 2007
An interesting twist on an old game, I shall start playing today!
It would seem that the "London" registrations cover much more than just London.
We live in Hertfordshire, just outside the M25, and bought our car from a local car dealer. Our 63 car was registered in Stanmore which I thought meant that the LN was a "local" registration, a thought that was reinforced by the presence of several other LN vehicles on local roads.
Given that "London" covers such a wide area, what is the point of having an "area" identifier?
Our local car dealer with branches all over East Anglia registers many of its new cars with London plates so there are lots of Ls around rather than As.
Don't know why.
Can confirm what Jan said: in a Buses magazine I read in 2007, it was reported that TN07 plates would be issued in place of SN07 plates, because nobody wants a numberplate that reads "SNOT". SN08, however, was allowed, so good news if you're a "SNOB".
Another good game, especially for Scrabble players, is to look for 3-letter words on number plates and tick them off on a list. Only I and Q are never seen.
As with some other London identifiers (such as phone area codes), the definition of London used for car registering doesn't match current local government areas. The car I own was sold/registered by a dealer in Walthamstow, but has an 'E' prefix as the registration system uses the old boundaries of Essex.
I think 'Q' is used more widely than you defined it. It is also used for (a) vehicles that have been privately imported and the UK authorities cannot determine the manufacture date and (b) for home assembled kit cars.
Buses. Many buses used in London are manufactured at Kilmarnock and get registered by the factory. The new 'Boris bus' models were build in Northern Ireland and a few of those appeared on N Irish plates (another different system)
DG, you have remarkable response time/tallying skills. I once tried to log regs for a survey and had trouble keeping up - admittedly 500 vehicles only took an hour to go past, so very well done
I believe that 20 registrations will remain depressed, because of the interruption of car sales due to Lockdown mark 1. I say this as the driver of a 20 and have noted the comparative rarity of fellow 'scores'.
All the Boris buses have Northern Ireland plates: LTZ 1001 upwards.

The reason for local area identifiers is that, until 2013, registration was handled by about 40 "Local Vehicle Licencing Offices", (until 1974 it was done by the local borough or county council). To avoid duplication of registrations, each office was allocated a block of the available registration marks. A dealer would use whichever office was most convenient, regardless of county boundaries.

Until 2001 those allocations were fairly random (originally allocated between 1903 and 1930) but the new system introduced in 2001 allowed a tidying up.
Ah Timbo - you have destroyed my illusion! I thought all the buses with LT plates stood for London Transport!!
I'll have to start something on those lines myself on my cycle commute. (I never did see anyone standing, notebook in hand, as I cycled along Ruckholt Road.)

Like IslandDweller I too have in the past bought a car in Walthamstow with an E plate (thanks for the info re old boundaries). My latest model was from a dealer actually in Essex and I was quietly chuffed to be allocated EU, doubtless anathema to many!
Wow - I was wracking my brains a while back to remember which area "T" stood for in the numberplate codes, and wondering why this one alone I could not remember. Now I know, thankyou! I dreamt last night that I was a lodger in your house, by the way DG - it was an interesting experience!
T was used in Scotland for the 07 plate to avoid unsuitable words being created. The example usually given is SN07 = SNOT. I'm sure 11 reg created a few issues too
Cornish Cockney - Northern Irish registration (thanks to where the buses were built) made having an LT sequence possible, and I suspect its use rather than any other pair of letters was then not accidental.
I think the 55/56 spike cpuld be due to the scrappage scheme in place at the time. I once ownded a car with a 55 plate bought woth a scrappage allowance.
Referenced Wiki article says Q is/was sometimes also used for recovered stolen cars (resold?) when the vehicles true identity could not be determined to give or recover a proper assignment. (As well as some imports and kits/reconstructions).

Not clear if that only refers to single letter year sequence plates or current office prefix plates.
Experiment 4
On today's walk to the bottom of the Isle of Dogs and back I passed 425 vehicles with a London 'L' code. Only 3 of these were LE. None of them were LH or LU... continuing to suggest that these two are exceptionally uncommon.

I passed over 2000 vehicles altogether.
Among these were 4 J registrations and 4 T registrations, all personalised. They included JC on two vans from the same company and TX on a taxi.

I didn't see a single Q, U or X registration.
The LTZ issue for Boris Buses is certainly not a coincidence, as most buses built and registered in Northern Ireland are registered with Ballymena (Antrim) marks (currently issuing three-letter marks in -RZ), as that is the local office to the builders Wrightbus.

TZ is allocated to Belfast but not yet used in 3-letter format (current issue is GZ)
All cars registered on the Isle of Wight have the letters "HW" ie: "H" for Hampshire and "W" for Wight. This is an anomaly in the system; the Island is the only place to have a definitive second letter applied.
If I and Z are not used because of similarity to 1 and 2, I wonder why O is used when it is identical to 0.
Dealers using "appropriate" marks is nothing new. My grandfather bought two new cars, both from the same dealer in Catford, in 1933 and 1957. Both had MU (Middlesex) registrations (MU 6810 and 337 KMU) because Stewart & Arden, who had a chain of Morris dealers all over London, had an arrangement with Middlesex County Council to register new cars with registrations starting with "M", regardless of where the dealer or owner was.

Although the allocation of marks in the system used from 1903 to 2001 was fairly ad hoc, each council being allocated a new mark once it had used all the numbers 1-9999 with the previous one, Middlesex did end up with most of the 2-letter marks starting with "M". The 3-letter marks were introduced in 1930, each council using its previously-allocated two letter-marks with a prefix letter added.
Reserved for personalised plates only:
   • AH AL
   • BY
   • DR
   • ED EH
   • GO
   • HO
   • MO MR MS MY
   • OK ON OR OS
   • RU
   • SU
   • VD VW
   • WC

Banned, even for personalised plates:
   • FO FU
Under the old (pre 2001) system the letters I and Z were reserved for Ireland (all 32 counties - and not used at all in GB); and I've always assumed that it was this (rather than their similarity to 1 and 2) that led to them not being used for the 'local memory tag'/area code. Certainly Z is used in the random/sequential final element (although I and Q are not).

The font used for number/registration plates uses the same glyph for O and 0, and for 1 and I, which means they can only be distinguished by their place in the registration mark - not I think a real problem for little used I, but as both O and 0 are commonly used there is room for confusion - consider a mark like ABO8OOW as it appears - which of the Os are actually 0, and how do you tell? Are there any where both variants are (legitimately) in use?
I almost regret not driving my car to your neck of the woods seeing that its letter is "O" - rare in your observations - and its year code is "02", missing altogether!
According to Wikipedia, TN was used in Scotland in 2007 instead of SN because SN07 too closely resembled SNOT!

I'm surprised nobody has mentioned this.
Jeremy GH, there appaer to be plenty of plates available on the DCVLA vanity plate website of the form MA 05 OOD, and I one of the private sites has MAO 500D for sale, (for £15,583!)

There is (of course!) a published "History of Motor Vehicle Registration in the United Kingdom" (by LH Newall, if you want to look for a copy). This says that when "reversed" registrations were issued in the 1950s, the MoT instructed that three letter combinations starting with "O" should not be issued, to avoid issuing close duplicates like 3210 XY and 321 OXY, although a few councils transgressed this instruction.
timbo's last comment reminds me that in my experience, when entering registration numbers into a web form, some such forms require you to include a space in the middle at the appropriate point, some require you not to do so, and some of them sensibly accept either version. The same observation applies to postcodes.
My car, bought in North Hertfordshire, and delivered from Derby via Peterborough, is an LM plate. Rather annoying seeing as the local plate could be KN, my initials!

I’m sure at least one of the fleet places used to register tons of cars in OY. If memory serves me right, Cowie was an Oxford business so maybe whoever they are owned by now?
Most London buses are now registered by their bodywork manufacturer, either S.. (Alexander Dennis in Falkirk) or Y.. (AD’s Scarborough plant), although the recent BYD all electric vehicles continue to have L.. plates issued.
This is why area identifiers don't include the letter I.

Q plate is also given to vintage/veteran cars that are rebuilt from ruty relics when original documentation or chassis number is no longer available. Although, if one makes a good enough case, it is often possible to get an era-appropriate plate.

Strictly speaking, kit cars should have a Q plate, but often if there is one main 'donor' car (eg engine), the new vehcile can take its plate.

Fascinating post, thanks, and I'd completely failed to realise that 'S' was Scotland, which has solved a recnet mystery for me!
Jeremy GH - I worked on the design of the London congestion charging scheme which relies heavily on automatic numberplate recognition, and there was (quite a small) set of combinations like ABO8OOW which we were told by the then DVLA would never be issued as AB08 OOW if ABO 800W was still registered.
Finally spotted a U reg. Took a week.

(It was UK something, of course)

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