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Personalised number plates: the top 10 most expensive ever

DVLA auction figures reveal the UK’s most expensive private number plates

Sales of personalised number plates have raised nearly £2 billion for the Treasury since the Driver and Vehicle Licencing Agency started selling them 30 years ago, with 2018 seeing drivers spend £116 million on so-called ‘vanity’ plates. Below you can find the top 10 most expensive plates ever sold in the UK.

The DVLA has sold 5.9 million personalised plates since 1989, raising £1.95billion for the Treasury in the process. The first-ever lot of DVLA-sold plates was auctioned by Christies, with the sale seeing the registration A1 sell for £160,000, a relative bargain considering the plate is worth several times that today.

• The most expensive cars ever sold at auction

But while just 658 personalised registrations sold in the 1989/90 financial year, over 26,000 were sold the following year, and 404,000 went under the hammer in the 2018/19 financial year. The average price paid for a vanity plate at one of the DVLA’s regular timed auctions is £877, while its live auctions have an average purchase price of £3,225.

The DVLA’s 30th anniversary live auction will see 1,250 plates offered for sale over 16, 17 and 18 July at the Vale Resort in Hensol, Vale of Glamorgan. Among the registrations being auctioned are HUG 60S (£300 reserve) IG 1 (£2,400), 311 A (reserve £2,500), B41 KER (£250) and JA66 UAR (£400).

But the reserve prices of those plates pale into insignificance compared to the record-breaking registrations the DVLA has sold in its three decades of personalised-plate auctions. Back in 2014 the plate 25 O was sold to a Ferrari dealer for £400,000, with the buyer paying upwards of £500,000 after fees and VAT. The plate is now believed to be on a Ferrari 250 GT SWB previously owned by Eric Clapton.

Still, they point out that it only takes one or two people to take interest in a specific UK number plate for bids to explode, with determined enthusiasts letting their hearts rule their heads in the auction room. May speculators and dealers even make a living from trading valuable number plates as our guide to making money from buying and selling personalised plates shows.

Sometimes UK number plate prices really do go through the roof. Below are the ten UK licence plates that have hit the highest prices...

The UK's most expensive car number plates

RegistrationPriceDate
25 O£400,000November 2014
1 D£285,000March 2009
51 NGH£201,000April 2006
1 RH£196,000November 2008
K1 NGS£185,000December 1993
KR15 HNA£180,000May 2015
1 O£170,000January 2009
1 A£160,000December 1989
1 OO£156,000April 2006
2 O£115,000March 2009
6B£101,700September 2008
250L   £100,500November 2014

Now discover our investigation into how easy it is to buy an illegal number plate in the UK...

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