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Dickie Stoop and his number plates
September 1st, 2020
Some years ago, we raced a couple of early 911s with the registrations 5 KAT and BOY 7D. The cars have gone but, without wishing to give the plot away, we have retained the numbers. The clever lads at Sports Purpose run the registration 2 LTR on a car in the 2-Litre Cup. There is a strong historical precedent for putting something suitably catchy on a racecar. It was relatively common in UK club racing in the 1950s and 1960s. A leading practitioner was Dickie Stoop, the accomplished privateer who competed at Le Mans ten times, mostly in a Frazer-Nash, and won the 2-Litre class twice. He was close to AFN and switched his affiliation to Porsche when the Isleworth firm did so. He seems to have taken a greater interest in number plates at much the same time. I should thank the excellent porschepicturespast.com for some of what follows.
 
A well-funded, if reputedly rather frugal, individual, Stoop started his Porsche racing endeavours in 1960 with a red RHD 356 Carrera and the registration YOU 4. He won the Autosport 3 Hours at Snetterton in the car and took class placings at Goodwood and elsewhere. Denis Jenkinson records that the car was crashed at some point and subsequently reappeared in blue with a replacement body and, later still, the registration 2 LAA. As such, it was the subject of a favourable used car test in Autocar. In the meantime, in 1963, the unstoppable Stoop bought another RHD 356 Carrera, this time in silver with the later and larger 2-litre four-cam engine and the registration 5 HOT. As before, he raced the car at Goodwood and elsewhere. The following year he acquired the car for which he is now best-known, his 904 Carrera GTS in Irish Green. The new car soon raced with the registration YOU 4. After a short interval, Stoop bought his last Porsche – a silver RHD 2-litre 911S collected from the factory in 1967. Again, the new car raced with the registration YOU 4. Sadly, Stoop suffered a fatal heart attack while driving it at Croft in 1968.
 

5 HOT on the 356 Carrera 2 in the company of a Ferrari 250 GTO at Goodwood in 1963
 
In the mark of a true numbers man, Stoop towed his racecars behind a BMW saloon with the registration OU 4. Tremendous attention to detail. There is a lovely picture of the BMW and the 904 on its trailer with their nearly matching numbers outside the Christophorus Restaurant in Stuttgart. I tip my hat to Simon Drabble of Duncan Hamilton for knowing that OU 4 had previously been seen on a Lotus Elite entered by Stoop at Le Mans in 1959. The car was involved in a road accident after qualifying and unable to start the race. Later, Stoop owned a couple of early 911s with the more prosaic registrations DAA 911C and MAA 911F. The latter appeared on a 911L Sportomatic he used on the road. Later still, and by now digressing somewhat, Beatle George Harrison had a 911 Turbo with the sequentially Stoop-related registration YOU 5.
 
So, where are Stoop’s cars and numbers now? As far as I know, neither of the 356 Carreras survives. It’s a real shame to have lost two such rare and notable cars. Do let me know if one or other might still be around. The fabulous 904, thankfully, is still with us in good health and hands and enjoying a new career in historic racing. I am also told that the 911S is under restoration in a well-known shed somewhere in Suffolk. Enough about the cars, what about the registrations? YOU 4 is back with the 904 and 5 HOT is currently assigned to a rather special 911. Apparently, OU 4 is on a Mercedes.


YOU 4 on the 904 GTS at Brands Hatch
 
As well as enjoying the exploits of a true enthusiast, number plates are on my mind for other reasons. We have an early 911 that’s partly known by its registration. I don’t have a problem with the number on the car and it’s been there since it was first registered, but I also like the idea of replacing it with one of mine. Historians will be appalled that I can even think of such a thing, but I find myself wondering what Dickie Stoop would do? I never met the man, but have a hunch that he might be open to the idea. In any case, we can always put the original number on retention and reinstate it in future. I remain undecided. I also like the idea of putting a sympathetic registration on one’s tow car. It’s reassuring to know that such enjoyable nonsense was an authentic part of racing in period.
 
A previous version of this piece appeared in Classic Porsche magazine. Photo credits Revs Institute and Ferret Photographics.
 
Robert Barrie E&OE