Registration Plates Sell For Price Of Luxury Cars At Melbourne Auction
For most motorists the humble registration plate is an afterthought, only thought of when the time comes to renew or replace it, but for others it can be a prized possession often worth more than their own car.
At an auction in Melbourne in February many heritage plates were sold for more than the price of a luxury vehicle.
People crowded into the Shannons auction house, weighing up the items for their investment potential, sentimental worth or simply the prestige they would add to their car.
Registration plates were first issued in Australia in the early 1900s.
"They went from number one to 285,000. In 1939 those plates were discontinued," Shannons national auctions manager Christophe Boribon said.
As old plates were handed back over time, state governments stockpiled them, then reissued the plates in the mid 1980s in "great plate auctions".
However, the market for plates really took off in the past two decades, with New South Wales and Victorian plates the most sought-after, and some reaching hundreds of thousands of dollars.
"It's pure collectability, it's prestige," Shannons' David Johnston said.
"The lower numerically the number plate is the more desirable it is.
"There's only one that says 419, as with all the other numbers, so the lower the number you can have the better."
Some buyers are car lovers, such as one bidder who paid $18,000 for 82-911 to match his Porsche.
But others see the registration plates as a unique investment.
Queenslander Shane Moore is an avid plate buyer.
"My first number I bought was 697 — that was one that came up at the auction at a reasonable price," he said.
"My second heritage plate was 2013. That did have some meaning. That was my daughter's year of birth and that was the same year I bought the plate."
As a hobby, he bought an online licence plate site. Only a dozen of the 8,000 plates for sale are heritage.
Mr Moore said one-digit plates were worth millions.
The UK in particular has a relationship with personalised number plates. According to estimates by the DVLA (Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency), the UK reported an excess of two billion pounds in tax revenue from tax auctions over the past 25 years. As they are keen to state, an expression of interest in a particular plate by three people or more is enough to push the price of that Reg plate through the roof. It has also been documented that the buyers let their hearts take control of their heads when they bid for these plates.
Personalised number plate auctions are constantly rewriting the record books with regard to the highest price paid for a plate. The record currently stands at £518,000 which is quite impressive. The prices of these Regplates does not seem to be slowing down either.
Of particular interest is the recent auction of the highly-hyped 250 C Reg plate which sold for £21,500. This is a clear indication that the expectations for the prices of personalised number plates will continue to increase.
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