£247,000 for ‘Hull’ number plate

Rob Harverson, 47, snapped up the plate – registration 1 RH – at an auction held by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA).

At £247,652, it is almost twice as expensive as Mr Harverson’s top-of-the-range Mercedes SL63 sports car, which will be given the plate.

The price tag is just behind the all-time record for a DVLA sale of a number plate. Two years ago, 51 NGH, went under the hammer for £254,000.

It is thought 1 RH originates from the early 1900s, before the DVLA was formed, when local authorities across the country, such as Hull, were issued with batches of number plates to give to their fleet of vehicles.

Today, Mr Harverson, of Surrey, who made his millions in construction before taking early retirement, said: “It’s the ultimate registration for me.

“I came with £150,000 to spend, but I was determined to buy the 1 RH plate. Nothing was going to stop me.”

As others declared themselves out, Mr Harverson was left to battle it out with Richard Harris, a businessman from Skegness.

A reserve price of £8,000 was put on the number plate before the auction, held at a hotel near Barnsley.

A DVLA spokesman said: “We were expecting the plate to fetch between £25,000 and £30,000. Everybody was absolutely stunned.”

Mark Hunt, an online company based in Woodmansey that specialises in the sale of personalised number plates, also made a bid for 1 RH.

A spokesman said: “We bid £80,000. Looking at the current market we thought it would have gone for around that price.”

According to Hull City Council, which registered its own vehicles between 1904 and 1974, there is no record of the number plate 1 RH ever having been used on one of its fleet.

The council, which never received the plate, will not make any money out of the auction sale.

The DVLA, which holds six auctions a year, made £83m for the Treasury last year through the sale of personalised plates.

In 2006, Chelsea FC chairman Roman Abramovich paid £285,000 for the number plate VIP 1.