Swiss Number Plate Auction Record Breaker
Would you pay CHF150,000 ($148,000) for a number plate? A bidder made the record offer for “VS 1” on Tuesday – still three weeks before the auction ends, so the record could rise further.
Very Special? Vain Show-off? Victoria’s Secret? In fact, the VS represents canton Valais. Swiss vehicle registration plates comprise a two-letter code for the canton followed by up to six digits. The plate on the back of the vehicle also shows small shields representing the flags of Switzerland and the canton.
Until now, the Swiss record was CHF135,000 for “SG 1”, bought by a driver presumably from canton St Gallen.
Valais began the month-long auction of sought-after number plates last week. In future, the plan is to auction 60 car plates and 36 motorbike plates a year. Over the next decade, the canton expects the auctions to generate around CHF1 million, which will go towards the cantonal structural deficit.
Although CHF150,000 might seem a lot for a number plate, it’s small change compared with the world record of 52.2 million dirhams (CHF14.4 million) paid by an Emirati businessman in 2008 for the minimalist “1”.
How close a series of letters or numbers are to a real name of word: if the match quality is high (and the numbers and letters are very convincing in making a popular word), the value of the registration plate will be higher. This means that a match like 5IMON, for the name Simon, will be worth a lot more than a more obscure set of letters and numbers that are not as convincing a match, such as S17 MMM for the name Sam.
The style of the plate: this means establishing if it is a new-style plate, an older-style format or if it is dateless or Irish, for instance. Other options are that it is a prefix-style plate or a suffix-style plate. New-style number plates, which have been produced since 2001, tend to be the least valuable because they are a bit less appealing to some collectors, plus the rule about not having plates that are newer than your car can also come into play, putting people off from buying a newer-style plate for their older car. Prefix-style number plates, which were in production between 1983 and 2001 can be more popular as more vehicles are entitled to have those licence numbers, and they may have fewer characters in total. Suffix-style plates, issued from 1963 to 1983 are relatively rare, which means they can attract higher prices than prefix-style plates and newer designs. Dateless number plates, also known as cherished number plates, were produced between 1903 and 1963 and are nearly always the most valuable number plate configurations; they have fewer digits and their dateless nature means that people can hide the age of their car. Irish number plates are similar to dateless number plates, especially because they don’t have a year identifier. They also tend to be cheaper than other types of vehicle registration plates.
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