Having a private number plate was once seen as something only for people with millions in the bank who liked to show-off. But in recent years, not only has it become more popular, there is even a thriving industry selling memorable or notable plates for serious amounts of money. So if you had the cash, would you buy one of these private plates?

World record holders

The current world record spent on a private registration is, unsurprisingly, for plate ‘1’ which was sold to a wealthy man from Abu Dhabi for a cool £7 million. He bought it because it was the ‘best number’ but didn’t disclose which of his fleet of vehicles was going to have the plate on it.

This sale broke the previous record, set just the year before for plate ‘5’ which was bought by Talal Ali Mohammad Khoury, again from Abu Dhabi. He paid £3.5 million for the plate and also bought ‘55’ in the same auction for another £800,000 but then said that the number had absolutely no meaning for him!

In the UK

Top of the ratings here in the UK is plate ’25 O’ that sold for £518,000 to Ferrari dealer John Collins in 2014. He uses the plate on a Ferrari 250 SWB that was once owned by Eric Clapton and is said to be worth £10 million.

Bradford entrepreneur Afzal Khan’s ‘F1’ plate has third place in the table. He bought it in 2008 for £440,000, meaning it is one of the most expensive number plates sold in the UK. It was last seen on his Mercedes SLR McLaren and Mr Khan believes he got a real bargain with the plate.

‘S 1’ is said to be the first private plate issues in Scotland and it sold to an anonymous bidder in 2008 for £404,000. No-one knows what type of car it is on but there were rumours that it was destined to be associated with an old Skoda!

Funny number plates

As long as you follow the rules that the DVLA lay out about the format of your registration plate, there’s nothing to stop you having a bit of fun with what you have on your car. Some of the ones that might make you chuckle when you see them on the road include:

  • SK11 NNT – must have spent it all on the plate
  • MO15SST – ideal for a baker
  • OB1 0NES – Star Wars fan?
  • JAN17OR – actually seen on a cleaning service van
  • MR 54NTA – someone’s daily driver while the sleigh is in the shop?

Benefits of a private plate

Joking aside, even if you go for a plate that has meaning to you and no-one else, there are some benefits to having a private plate on your car that make it worth considering.

For starters, how many times have you had to supply your car registration plate and couldn’t remember those random letters and numbers? By using a personalised plate that contains letters and numbers you have chosen, it is easier to remember. This saves time and red faces when you have no idea if the car in question is yours!

If you leave a plate on a car and sell the car, there’s a chance that the plate can add value to it. If you are looking to invest in a plate that can raise a car’s value then opt for popular names, numbers, and things that might have meaning to people. Something obscure might be relevant to you but will be less likely to mean something to someone else and therefore, they wouldn’t be willing to pay more for the car with the plate on it.

Make sure it’s legal

When you are considering a private plate, you need to make sure it is legal as the DVLA does have rules about what you can and cannot put on your car. There’s a special website that lets you put in your ideal combination of letters and numbers to see if it’s acceptable and available. Also, you can check with companies who sell plates to see what they have and what you like as these will already have been accepted by DVLA.