Private Number Plates Are Worthy Investments
When the first ‘61’ number plates appeared on 1st September, a select few were reserved at auction, their new owners eager to show off their prize registration plates.
Others such as EN61AND, with an expected reserve price of £5,000 – were also due to go under the hammer a few months later. LU61NDA, CH61SEA and TA61THA were just some of the most desired registration plates being auctioned off by the DVLA.
But who’s in charge of this trade, which has turned over an incredible £1.68 billion in the past 20 years? Where does the money go? And who decides what plates we can and can’t buy?
‘There is a huge demand,’ says Damian Lawson of the DVLA, which issues all British number plates.
‘The March release of the ‘11’ numbers was our most lucrative launch in 22 years because you could make lots of different names, like AL11SON. We sold a record-breaking £16 million worth of private plates on the first day.’
Since 2001, the third and fourth digits on a British number plate identify the age of a car and change every six months – the current number, 11, will be replaced by 61 in September. In March 2012, the number will be 12, then 62 the following September.
Chris Evans says - 'Private plates are an investment. I've got 11 and I wouldn't buy them if they weren't. I actively go looking for good plates - the best place to find them is in a posh car park.'
Identifying words that incorporate the age identifier is the work of Lawson and the Personalised Registration team in Swansea, who have 35 million possible combinations stored on their computer.
First, though, they must prevent rude or unacceptable number plates slipping through for sale.
‘A computer does a lot of the checking, but we have a committee which decides what is and what isn’t acceptable,’ says Lawson.
Once potential money makers have been identified, ownership of the registrations is auctioned off, with the money going to the Treasury.
At the last event, held at the end of July, 1,500 registrations were sold for more than £3 million. Eighty per cent of those attending are members of the public chasing one specific number. The rest are dealers like ourselves who buy and sell number plates as a business.
However private number plates don’t have to spell anything to be valuable. Take HMP 729G, GPF 146G and LGW 809G.
In 2006 they were attached to three piles of rusting scrap. Yet the owners of that scrap managed to auction the number plates off for a total of £20,000. How?
David Morton explains: ‘These plates are all that is left of the Minis used in the film The Italian Job,’ he says.
He rebuilt the Minis, had them signed by Sir Michael Caine, and they’re now worth considerably more than £20,000. It just goes to show what a 20” strip of plastic can do!
Why not invest in a number plate now and you may find yourself making a good sized profit in the future? For more information please do not hesitate to contact us via our contact page on the homepage.