15 Years of H Registration Plates for Historic Vehicles
Preserving Technical Cultural Assets
The number of historic vehicles on German roads is rising even further. 231,064 cars with H registration plates had been registered by December 31, 2011 – a rise of nearly 11 percent compared with the previous year. In total, there are around 259,000 vehicles with H registration plates in Germany, including not only cars but also motorcycles, commercial vehicles, tractors and miscellaneous vehicles. H registration plates are intended for oldtimer vehicles which are at least 30 years’ old. Verband der Automobilindustrie (VDA – “Association of the Automobile Industry”) regular commissions Kraftfahrt-Bundesamt (“Federal Motor Vehicle Office”) to elaborate a detailed evaluation of the vehicles with H registration plates.

The regulation concerning H registration plates came into force in Germany 15 years ago, in July 1997. This possibility of registering and marking motor vehicles as historic vehicles was intended to promote the care of the cultural assets in the form of motor vehicle technology. In addition to the minimum age of 30 years, the vehicles must be technically flawless and in the original condition. Matthias Wissmann, VDA President: “The H registration plate is the recognition characteristic of a genuine oldtimer. Since its introduction, it has made a great contribution to ensuring that ever more people are endeavouring to preserve historic vehicles. That is also proven by the constant rise in the number of licensed oldtimers in recent years. VDA is advocating the viewpoint that oldtimers with H registration plates should continue to be protected as technical cultural assets so that they will be able to drive on our roads without any problems in the future too.”

In the rankings of the models with H registration plates, the VW Beetle is still unchallenged in first place with 26,857 vehicles. Compared with the preceding year, the number of VW Beetles with H registration plates rose by all of five percent. It is followed by three Mercedes-Benz cars: The “SL” in the 107 series (7,103 vehicles) has climbed into second position with an increase of no less than 18 percent. Third place is now occuped by the “Dash Eight” (6,821 units), followed by the Mercedes-Benz “W123″ which also exhibited strong growth (5,921; plus 44 percent). The “W123″ was built from 1975 to 1986. Therefore, a lot of vehicles in this model series are currently reaching the oldtimer age of at least 30 years. The Porsche 911/912 has remained in fifth position: The number of licensed 911s and 912s with H registration plates rose by almost 19 percent to 5,500 vehicles. The quickest climber in the top ten of the oldtimers with H registration plates is the VW Bus (including the VW Transporter). The number of “Bullis” with H registration plates soared by nearly 54 percent to 3,593 units.

In spite of the rise by an average of nine percent in the last ten years, vehicles with H registration plates are still a very small minority on German roads. Their proportion of the total stock of cars is just 0.5 percent. Around 59 percent of all the licensed cars which are older than 30 years possess H registration plates. Particular regulations for exceptions, e.g. the exemption from the prohibition on driving in environmental zones, only apply to these vehicles.
Source: Verband der Automobilindustrie (VDA)

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