WHY DO PEOPLE BUY PERSONALISED NUMBER PLATES?

Some people aren't satisfied with the standard number plate that comes with a car and would rather pay out for a personalised plate to put on their new purchase.

Personalised plates, or cherished plates as they're sometimes known, can range anywhere from £250 to the most expensive plate, the number "1", which was sold at auction in Abu Dhabi to a businessman from the UAE for an eye-watering £7 million!

Private plates are seen as the ultimate way to personalise a car - yes you can choose the colour and options from new, but there is still a chance that another person will make the same choices. Number plates are unique and putting one on your car will make it one of a kind.

There are also some practical uses for a personalised plate such as hiding the car's age and functioning as a quirky form of advertising for a business.

The personalised plate market can be lucrative with more than £2 billion estimated to have been raised by the DVLA's specialised number plate auctions over the last 25 years or so.

As a result, purchasing a private plate can be seen as an investment that can pay huge dividends if you decide to sell it and it's deemed desirable by other buyers.

One enthusiast, Steve Holden drive over 200 miles to purchase "HO11 DEN" for £7,400. He says that "once you've got one, you want to buy better ones." so they can become an addictive possession.

However, not everyone shares the same opinion and private plates are often viewed as an ostentatious waste of money for the rich and famous.

MOST EXPENSIVE PRIVATE PLATES SOLD IN THE UK

Some cherished plates really stand out when the hammer falls at a public auction for the sheer amount paid by willing buyers.

Of course, countless other plates are sold privately for big money, but with no public record of the prices paid, there's no way of knowing how much some plates are traded for.

In the UK, these are the private plates that have sold for the most money:

  1. "25 O": £518,000 - bought by Ferrari dealer John Collins in 2014. It's understood to be on a Ferrari 250SWB worth around £10 million, once owned by Eric Clapton.
  2. "F 1": £440,000 - bought by Bradford business owner Afzal Khan in 2008 and assigned to his McLaren-Mercedes SLR.
  3. "S 1": £404,000 - bought by an anonymous bidder in 2008, it is claimed to be Scotland's first ever number plate.
  4. "1 D": £352,000 - bought by Lebanese businessman Nabil Bishara one year before One Direction, often known as '1D', were formed. Would it break the record if it was sold now?
  5. "M 1": £331,000 - bought by mobile phone businessman Mike McCoomb in 2006.
  6. "VIP 1": £285,000 - currently owned by Chelsea FC boss Roman Ambramovich, it was once used on the Popemobile during Pope John Paul II's papal visit to Ireland in 1979.
  7. "51 NGH": £254,000 - sold in 2006, 'Singh' is a popular name in the Sikh community.
  8. "1 RH": £247,000 - bought by businessman Robert Harverson in 2006 for 30 times its estimated value.
  9. "K1 NGS": £231,000 - sold all the way back in 1993, this royal plate is believed to have been purchased by an Arab Sultan.
  10. "1 O": £170,000 - just a single number and letter, it was bought in Northamptonshire in 2009.

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CELEBRITY NUMBER PLATES

We've already seen the fantastic example of understated modesty from Roman Abramovich by owning "VIP 1", but there are a lot of other celebrities who have felt compelled to personalise their car with a cherished plate:

  • "MAG 1C" - aptly owned by the late Paul Daniels who bought the plate along with the Ferrari it was attached to in the mid-80s.
  • "COM 1C" - similarly, the late Jimmy Tarbuck owned this prestigious number plate since it was first issued in the sixties.
  • "H41 RDO" - hairdresser to the stars, Nicky Clarke added some style to his car by purchasing this plate.
  • "BOX 111G" - a serial private plate buyer, boxer Amir Khan has a range of Boxng related registrations including "V60 XER" and "A180 XER".
  • "CL07 HES" - a normal number plate from 2007, this was snapped up by fashion guru Gok Wan making it even more pertinent.
  • "8 OOK" - prolific author Martina Cole purchased this plate as a gift to herself for one of her books reaching number one. It takes pride of place on her Bentley - another one of these gifts.
  • "ROW 6O1D" - who else could have this plate but Sir Steve Redgrave, the record-breaking gold medal winner in five consecutive Olympic games.
  • "AMS 1" - perhaps a more familiar plate, it can be seen on Lord Alan Sugar's Rolls Royce on his hit BBC TV show The Apprentice.
  • "JU5T WED" - as Prince William and Kate Middleton drove off for their honeymoon, we all got to see this personalised plate on the Aston Martin.

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ARE THERE ANY RESTRICTIONS ON PRIVATE PLATES?

There certainly are. The DVLA will not allow anything that could be seen as offensive or obscene, so if you had dreams of a number plate that would send a rude message to the world, then you'll have to think again.

Also, it is not permitted to have a plate that makes your car look newer than it is. So, if you decide that you would like to retain the conventional age-related plate from your first car and transfer it, that is fine, as long as you transfer it to a newer car but not an older one.

Search the DVLA Registrations website to find your personalised registration.