Number Plates Purchases Reg Plates On The Rise In 2018
Record numbers of motorists are driving cars fitted with personalised numberplates amid a surge in “auto vanity”.
The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency sold a record 374,968 registrations last year, up 12 per cent in 12 months and almost five times the total in the mid-90s.
The trade in numberplates made more than £110 million for the Treasury in 2016-17 alone, a record annual total.
The rise coincides with an increase in the number of registrations made available by the DVLA, combined with a sharp rise in the value of rare plates over the past two decades.
In an era when we’re all supposed to be flaunting our individuality, the trend for personalised car number plates has apparently never been higher. The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA), which sells new and never-issued registrations, sold 374,968 last year, an increase of 12%.
Among private dealers, who sell pre-owned plates, business is just as good.
“For the past five years, [the market has] been steadily rising.” It is thought one reason is a personalised plate makes the age of the car less obvious. But he also says social media has played a huge part. “It’s, ‘Hey, everybody, look at me’,” he says.
People post pictures of their new cars on Instagram, and adding a private plate “seems to be something that people can use to boost their social media reach”.
At the entry-level end of the market, “registrations that start at £250, on average there are 800 of those sold every day.” He says one fairly common customer is the parent who buys a personalised plate for their child on passing their driving test, to go with a new car. “My typical client would be someone in their 40s or 50s, they’ve got a bit of money sitting about and always fancied a personalised number plate.”
At the extreme end, plates can fetch more than £500,000. In 2014, one classic-car dealer bought a “25 O” plate, reportedly for his Ferrari 250 GTO, for £400,000 (the final price, including fees, was £518,000) and a “250 L” for £130,000.
“The numbers that were selling for £1,000 in 1980 now sell for £150,000. What probably changed it was in the late 80s, when the government started to sell numberplates. We in the trade all thought it would devalue the numbers, but it didn’t, it just got more people interested.”
A personalised plate is “a prestigious thing. There’s a little bit of vanity about it,” says Saperia. As for those of us who believe it’s the mark of a bit of a berk, Saperia points out that the DVLA’s sale of personalised plates “bring more than £100m every year to the treasury”.
How popular any name or initial it contains is: You are more likely to get good money for a registration plate that spells out a name like 5UE than you are with a more unusual name, simply because there is more demand for Sue (or Dave or Mel) than there would be for Hector, Primrose or Zebedee
How valuable the letters and numbers the plate contains are: in terms of numbers, lower numbers with fewer digits tend to be the most valuable when reselling personalised number plates, making BOB 1 more valuable than BOB 379. Sequential numbers (123, 456 etc.) and repeated numbers (444, 88) are more popular than random combinations, and special occasion numbers like 18 and 21 can also boost a number plate’s value a little. In terms of the letters in a number plate, the likelihood of a series of letters being a name or a person’s initials increases the value of the plate, too.
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