F1 or KR15HNA? Steep price tags put brakes on custom plates
Both male and female south Asians are paying thousands of pounds for a unique number plate which resembles their name
Afzal Kahn’s Bugatti Veyron
For motorists wanting to put “Singh” or “Krishna” on a personalised number-plate, the price tag could put the brakes on such ambitions.
The most expensive registrations sold at auction were revealed by the government’s Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA). And “51 NGH” made the top 10 after being bought for £201,000 while “KR15 HNA” was sold for £180,000.
Popular plates include “IMMY” for people named Imran which is estimated to be worth £4,000, while “ABU IM” sold for £4020 last year and “2M0” went for £6000.
The most expensive ever sold is “25 O” for £400,000, which is sought after because many classic car models have 250 including Ferrari, followed by 1 D which went under the hammer for £285,000. The DVLA holds nine auctions per financial year, when some of the more sought after number plates are auctioned and the next one is in June.
The organisation, responsible for maintaining a database of drivers and vehicles in Britain, told Eastern Eye: “Many people enjoy displaying a personalised registration and there are millions of registrations available on our website, dvlaregistrations.dvla.gov.uk with almost endless possibilities of combinations to suit a person’s taste, interest and budget with prices starting at just £250.
“The vast majority of personalised registrations are made available for sale, but the agency holds back any combinations that may cause offence, embarrassment or are in poor taste. DVLA currently hold nine auctions a year. Of the nine auctions scheduled for the 2023-2024 financial year, seven will be timed online auctions, with two being held in a venue in June and October.”
The money raised through the sale of registrations is passed to HM Treasury with a proportion of the revenue retained by the Department for Transport. And the market has become popular among British Asian collectors.
Businessman Afzal Kahn, from Bradford, bought the F1 plate in 2008 for £440,625 and put it on his Bugatti Veyron supercar.
Kahn, who owns a car manufacturing firm and has 213,000 Instagram followers, turned down an offer of £6 million for his registration plate in 2013.
Soneya Dawett, from Huddersfield in West Yorkshire, was given the personalised plate “D4 WTT” by her husband Ricky in 2006 when she was pregnant with their first child Rehya.
Her husband was inspired into buying the plate as his father Baldir has the number “D4W ETT” on his Bentley purchased for £5,000 in 1996.
Kamran Uddin, a tech writer, said other common personalised number plates contain the names Muhammad or Ayesha.
He told Eastern Eye: “I am seeing a lot more private number plates on the roads and many of these appear to be owned by young south Asians in their 20s.
“Personally, I’m not itching to get one for my car but both male and female south Asians are paying thousands of pounds for a unique number plate which resembles their name. Typically they would need to have a nice car in order to show it off with a private plate,” he said.
“For some younger people it’s a status symbol and for the older generation it’s more of an investment for their children perhaps, which they can sell off for a higher price in a few years.”
Hugo Griffiths, from online marketplate carwow, said personalised number plates are a huge business, “bringing in £2 billion for the Treasury since the DVLA started selling them in 1989, with around 400,000 cherished plates sold each year.”
He added: “Even for those not interested in personalised registrations, changing your car during the March and September plate change months can be a wise idea, both for people wanting to have the latest reg, and for bargain hunters who could get a good deal on a car with the previous registration.”
The world record is around £100 million, which was paid by a buyer in Abu Dhabi for the number “1”.
In the US, the official record for the most expensive registration plate is around £500,000 for the number “6” which was sold in Delaware. The new “23” number plate was used for vehicles registered in the UK from the beginning of March 2023. Elsewhere, senior members from the DVLA have a bi-annual meeting at their base in Swansea to choose personalised plates it wants to remove from sale for being too offensive. This year, D23 UGY, EU23 OFF and UA23 ASE have all been pulled from availability.