When the car was delivered, it had no registration plates. Presumably the previous owner had kept them as a souvenir. However, the dealer who sold the car gave me a 1960s (green type) log book, which supposedly belonged to it. All that was needed was to fill in a form and send the log book to the DVLA, and it would be registered in my name. If only life was so simple...
Inside the car is a plaque stating "Supplied by Moores Ltd., Brighton and Hove", but the log book contained addresses in Newcastle and (on further investigation) had a north-east registration mark. Finding this a bit suspicious, I phoned directory enquiries and asked for the names of the people in the log book. Remarkably, the last person in the log book was still living in the Newcastle area, so I phoned him up and asked him about the Standard Ten he'd owned in the mid-60s. He remembered it well - it was his first car - and he remembered putting some old tyres on it before towing it to the scrapyard as the new tyres were the only bits worth keeping. So it definitely wasn't that one...
Normally it should be possible to identify the car by its commission number, but someone had removed the plate from my car and put in its place a commission number plate from a Standard Ensign. Quite why, I have absolutely no idea, but it was possibly the most unhelpful thing they could have done. I might add at this point that I did ask the police for advice, but they weren't unduly worried.
There are a number of other unique numbers on a Standard Ten, for example the body number (still in place), the engine number (badly stamped and not all readable on mine), the back axle number, etc. All very useful you'd have thought, but on contacting the owners club all of them turned out to be untracable. I was therefore left with only two clues as to the correct identity of my car - a date on the engine "5.1.55", and a plaque inside the car put on by the original dealers, Moores Ltd., Brighton and Hove.
This is where the real detective work began. I established that Moores Ltd. had been the main Standard-Triumph dealers in Brighton in those days (not to mention Ferguson tractors and, er, Jaguars), but had since closed. I found out that prior to the DVLA computer system, vehicle registrations were allocated by individual counties, and that whilst some had destroyed their old records, others had kept them. I then contacted the East Sussex County Records Office in Lewes, and found that yes, they had kept their old records.
I found out that in 1955, cars were generally registered within a few weeks of being built. (In 1956 sales slowed right down due to the Suez crisis). I then visited the East Sussex County Records Office (I nearly didn't make it because of late trains and missed connections, and ended up doing a detour via Brighton and nearly got stuck there, but that's another story). I was able to search through the original registration documents, and I produced a list of all of the Standard Tens sold by Moores Ltd. in the first four months of 1955. (This covered all of the PCD registrations; the next batch used PUF, and this pattern then alternated with RCD, RUF etc.).
Having come up with a list of about 25 registrations and their associated commission numbers (not to mention first owners), I then sent all of this information off to Roger Morris, then archivist of the Standard Motor Club, and he spent many long months trawling through the archives to try to establish further details about these particular cars. The factory records eliminated those which were different colours. The DVLA eliminated those which had been notified as scrapped and their log books returned. We were left with a list of about four 'possibles', and for a while that looked to be as close as we could get - so near but yet so far.
Then, Roger had a stroke of luck, as he met, quite by chance, someone who used to work for Moores Ltd. and remembered some of these cars as they used to return for servicing. He was able to eliminate a further two cars which were known to have been scrapped, one after an accident and one some years later. A second check of the old factory records revealed that one of the other two was a different colour, which had been missed on the first pass through, and that was it - PCD 716 was the only one left on the list.
All of this evidence was then collated and submitted to the DVLA, and the car was finally registered in October 1996, after more than five years of struggle.
When an original registration mark is re-allocated in this way, it is stamped "non-transferrable" so that it has no monetary value. This is to prevent people from getting a personalised number plate 'for free', for example by from applying for ABC 123 or whatever on an old Mini and then transferring this to their Porsche. At the same time this system allows a historic vehicle which has been off the road for a number of years (and is therefore not on the DVLA's computer) to retain its original number plate without costing the earth.
And that, you would imagine, is that. Unfortunately there may yet be a post-script to all of this - watch this space!