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C-Prefix Commercial

In 1931 the C-prefix commercial plate with either a “Taxi,” “Bus” or “Driverless” seal affixed superseded the Commercial Car plates of 1923-1929. (The “C” was omitted from the 1931 plates but was used all years thereafter that these plates were in use.)  In New Mexico buses and taxis were in the early years closely allied classes of vehicles which were differentiated by law as follows:

Taxicabs: Motor vehicles for the transportation of persons for hire, having a normal seating capacity of not more than seven persons.

Buses: Motor vehicles for the transportation of persons for hire, having a normal seating capacity in excess of seven persons.

There might be little difference in the appearance, therefore, between a 7-passenger taxi and an 8-passenger bus. And an examination of the seals on these plates shows that they don’t always follow the above definitions.

In 1955 new types of Bus of and Taxi plates were introduced, bearing prefixes of “B” and “TX,” respectively.

Note: The weight/capacity seals used on these plates are commonly called “tabs” today, but during the years they were in use the only name applied to them was “seal.” 
The Three Types of Commercial Plates: Bus, Taxi, Driverless. Illustrated here are all three types of Commercial plates for 1931, the only year for which all three are known to have survived. Though Commercial plates in general are not common, Driverless (rental car) tags were outnumbered more than seven to one by Bus and Taxi plates, and as such are seldom seen. Immediately below is the registration data for these three plates.

175 Bus Union Auto Trans. Co.; El Paso, Texas; 1929 Pickwick Bus; serial #67338; 10000 lbs. (Pickwick was a make of bus manufactured in California 1927-1933.)

12 Taxi Southwest Tours; Santa Fe; 1928 Cadillac Sedan; serial #327005; 4965 lbs.

185 Driverless U Drive It Co; Albuquerque; 1930 Ford Phaeton; serial #A3924463; 2285 lbs.

Note how the weight shown in the registration records matches the figure stamped on the tabs in all three cases
See the page on Driverless vehicles for more information on this unusual category for rental cars.
No Seals
Commercial Plates Without Seals. Commercial plates, primarily in the last decade of their use (1946-1955), are known to exist without seals, often without even having rivet holes for the attachment of seals. It may be that by this time the state decided that having small, hard-to-read tabs on plates served no useful purpose and simply eliminated them in most cases.

A plate that does have rivet holes, but no seal, likely came to be in that condition for one of three reasons: It is an unissued plate and therefore never had a seal attached to it in the first place; it originally did have a seal but the seal fell off; or it was the second plate of the pair where only one of the two plates received a seal upon issue. (The latter circumstance has not been positively verified, but there is anecdotal evidence to indicate that this did occur from time to time.)
Photo Credits: 1932 Bus courtesy Alan Betts. All others by Bill Johnston.



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