The popularity of personalised number plates has gone through the roof with people from all backgrounds now owning their very own private registration.
The number of cars on England's roads has risen by almost 600,000 in one year. Recent figures show there were 25.8 million licensed cars in the third quarter of 2015 compared with 25.2 million in the same period of 2014.
Since car registrations were introduced in 1903 the popularity of personalised number plates in the UK has increased dramatically and many highly sought after registration numbers are changing hands for vast sums of money.
Personalised plates are car registrations that read a name or word specific to the owner or their vehicle. They are made up of letters and numbers and follow the legal formats of number plates set by the DVLA.
In the past personalised plates were associated with the business elite and people wanting to show the world their success. In today’s motoring world however personalised plates are bought by people from all walks of life who want to add the finishing touch to their vehicles
or make their car stand out on the road. Some personalised plates are bought as a
present to mark a special date or occasion whilst other people buy car registrations as an investment and sell them on for profit. Whatever the reason, it is clear on any journey that the popularity of personalised plates is growing all the time.
In other places the popularity of such plates is just as strong with many countries issuing what are known as vanity plates to personalise the nation’s vehicles. Vanity plates are similar to personalised number plates in that they are all unique and are specific to the owner or their vehicle. The main difference to personalised plates however is that they are typically made up from 6 or 7 characters (letters and numbers) in any order with no specific format. For this reason vanity plates can read pretty much anything however as with DVLA registrations, obscene and offensive words are banned.
In the US vanity plates are hugely popular and can be spotted in every state. The list of personalised number plates on the roads in the US is endless and includes countless classic examples such as FAST (assigned to a 1986 Corvette Pace car), HI-TECH and SNKBITE (spotted on a Dodge Viper). Many of the vanity plates in the US are used for comedy value or to portray a certain image. FBI AGNT for example is not assigned to a Federal agent’s vehicle, it is misleadingly owned by an insurance agent working for Farm Bureau Insurance!
Australia is another country which has embraced the use of vanity plates with each state administering their own personalised registrations.
Recently there has been a growing call for the DVLA to issue US style vanity plates in the UK however there is a heated debate going on between the government, police and number plate dealers over the implications that the introduction of vanity plates would have. However as the current format of DVLA number plates has the scope to last until the year 2049 the introduction of vanity plates to the UK is surely still a long way off and the popularity of personalised number plates will continue to grow.
Three of the UK's most expensive car number plates. . .
O' : £518,000
The priciest ever sold by the DVLA, bought by Ferrari dealer John Collins in 2014. The plate is now thought to take pride of place on a Ferrari 250SWB once owned by Eric Clapton, worth around £10million.
2. 'F 1' : £440,000
The previous record holder, the initials of Formula 1 were bought by Bradford businessman Afzal Khan in 2008. The digits were then assigned to his McLaren-Mercedes SLR.
3. 'S 1' : £404,000
Claimed to be Scotland's first ever number plate, it was bought back in 2008 by an anonymous bidder who claimed the digits would be fixed to an old Skoda!