The sale of personalised plates raised £67m for the UK’s Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency last year. But why do people continue to buy them?
Personalised number plates undoubtedly add a touch of uniquness and style to your vehicle, and the market has grown significantly in recent years.
True, the majority of celebrities prefer to remain anonymous when out and about to avoid being mobbed by the public or paparazzi. However, several celebrities are taking advantage of the surge in personalised registrations.
High-profile businessmen, athletes, and TV personalities have chosen to customize their high-end vehicles with a personalised number plate.
Some take a more subtle approach, with the meaning of their license plates not immediately apparent. But others make it clear who’s behind the wheel. Often, the registration will include their name or initials, but some choose a registration that is related to their profession.
Declan Donnelly, Kevin Keegan, Hamed, Stephen Hendry, Sir Chris Hoy, Elizabeth Hurley, Hugh Grant, Prince Naseem Vinnie Jones, and HRH Prince Jefri of Brunei, Ally McCoist are among CarReg’s celebrity clients.
Lord Alan Sugar is the owner of one: 1. AMS. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge left their wedding with one that read JU5T WED, and broadcaster Chris Evans has too many to list.
However, it is not only the wealthy and famous who purchase personalised license plates. Despite the recent economic downturn, they remain a significant business patronized by the everyday people.
Personalised plates are frequently used in movies and television shows to suggest that a character is a braggart, an egomaniac, or simply desperate for attention. They are seen as a statement of individuality or investment by the thousands of drivers who have them.
In November 2008, retired businessman Robert Harverson of Surrey paid nearly £250,000 for the registration 1 RH. He went to the auction in Yorkshire with the intention of spending between £100,000 and £150,000, but once there, he realized, “It’s my initials, there’s only one, so I’ve got to keep bidding.”
He admits it’s a statement, but it’s no different than spending a lot of money on a car or boat.
Some Noticeable People Who Buy Personalised Plates
Russell Watson rose a remarkable celebrity also has a personalised plate number ‘T3 NOR’.
Louisa Zissman, a candidate on the ninth series of The Apprentice in 2013 who was among the finalist also has a customized plate. Despite coming in second place on the show, she went on to become a reality TV star. She chose the personalised license plate ‘LU11 SAZ’.
When a celebrity hairdresser becomes a celebrity, it demonstrates the ephemeral nature of fame. Nicky Clarke has done just that, and his ‘H41 RDO’ registration number demonstrates his ingenuity.
Amir Khan, a former world champion boxer, is also a fan of personalised license plates. His current license plate, ‘BOX 11G,’ makes it clear what he does. His personalized registrations also include ‘A180 XER,’ ‘R6 KKO,’ and ‘V60 XER.’
Sir Steve Redgrave, who made Olympic history by winning gold medals in five consecutive Olympic Games proudly displays the number plate ‘ROW 601D’ on his car.
There is also Ian “Beefy” Botham, former England, Somerset, Worcestershire, and Durham cricketer and TV pundit. Better known to you as Baron Botham of Ravensworth in the County of North Yorkshire. His Bentley is easily identified by its personalised ‘B33 FYS’ plate.
Because of his car’s appearances on the reality show The Apprentice, Alan Michael Sugar, also known as Lord Sugar has one of the most recognizable personalized plates, He owns a Rolls-Royce Phantom 8 with the registration number ‘AMS 1’.
Duncan Bannatyne OBE, entrepreneur and former Dragons’ Den star, is another well-known businessman who enjoys personalised license plates.
In the 1990s, his first private registration number, ’23 D,’ was a gift from his first wife. His health club business owns a gym repair van with the license plate ‘F1 TSO.’ Duncan claims to have had approximately 20 private plates and to have “made a little money” by selling some of them.
The DVLA list is topped by 1 D, which was purchased for £352,000 in March 2009 by a London-based Lebanese businessman as a birthday present for his wife.
Since 1989, the DVLA has raised £1.8 billion for the Treasury through auctions and sales on its website. Many people indeed use DVLA number plates and personal registration plates as status symbols.
However, many people who do not have a lot of money but treasure their cars and want to make them truly unique imprint their stamp on them this way.
Some people may wish to purchase one as a unique gift for a loved one. “Not all personalised plates have to cost thousands of pounds, and they repeatedly have great stories and notions behind them,” said Jason Wilkes, Managing Director at CarReg.