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These days, a personalised number plate is not such a rare thing. The DVLA holds regular auctions of around 1,500 special plates, with prices starting at just a few hundred pounds.
The more you are prepared to stretch your imagination, the cheaper your cherished plate is going to be, with 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8 doubling for I, R, E, A, S, T and B.
Boxer Amir Khan takes this approach to the limit with his huge collection of ‘almost’ plates, from BOX111G and V60 XER to A180 XER and even R6 KKO, all of which need a bit of a squint to make them work.
For 2015, the letters I and Z will be released at the DVLA auctions for the first time, so brace yourself for a flood of hot hatchbacks labelled BAZ, DAZ and JEZ.
Of course, to really turn heads, you need to spend big money on instantly recognisable words. For example, celebrity hairdresser, Nicky Clarke, famously owned H41 RDO, magician Paul Daniels owned MAG 1C and comedian Jimmy Tarbuck owned C0M 1C. Former glamour model and Emmerdale actress, Linda Lusardi missed out on L1 NDA, but did snap up LU54 RDY.
The vaguer the connection, the less you’ll pay for the plate, with initials the cheapest of all. Of course, this also makes them far less recognisable. Engelbert Humperdinck’s EH1 may have been unmistakable, but his other personal plate ‘25ADG’ combining his birthday, 2/5, and his real name, Arnold George Dorsey, probably doesn’t mean anything to anyone except the most devoted fan.
Naturally, it’s much cheaper to give your fictional car the perfect private plate, as Batman (BAT 1), The Saint (ST 1) and Ghostbusters (ECTO 1) prove. You don’t even have to play by the usual rules of letter and number combinations, as Marty McFly’s famous Delorean ‘OUTATIME’ proved in Back to the Future. Even the Royal Family are not immune to the fun of fictional number plates, as Prince William showed with the JU5T WED plate on his honeymoon car.
Tales of telephone number prices for car number plates abound. An Abu Dhabi businessman allegedly paid out £7million for the number plate that read simply ‘1’, with ‘5’ reaching £3.5m and ‘7’ reaching £1.58m at the same auction.
The most expensive number plate ever sold in the UK was ’25 O’ which a Berkshire Ferrari dealer paid £518,000 for in November 2014. He also paid £130,000 for the plate ‘250 L’ at the same auction, so we’re guessing he has at least one ‘Ferris Bueller’ Ferrari 250 in stock. Though perhaps he should have waited, as the plate 250 C sold in late Feb 2015 for just £21,500, defying many people’s expectations of a new record price.
Inevitably, the best plates change hands at private auctions, but occasionally there are gems for sale from the DVLA, including 1D, which fetched over £350,000 and 51NGH, which brought in over £250,000.
In total, personalised, or cherished number plates have raised nearly a whopping £2bn for the government since 1989. But don’t worry, they still have over 39 million numbers available…