The personalised number plate market is booming. More and more people want to exhibit their ‘individuality’ on the front and back of their cars. However, new research by MoneySuperMarket has revealed that drivers with personalised plates might be getting more than they bargained for – including six times as many speeding tickets as drivers with regular number plates.

What’s in a name?

The MoneySuperMarket research found that a third of Brits consider those with personalised plates to be posers, but this hasn’t slowed demand for the so-called vanity plates. According to number plate dealer National Numbers’ search data, first names are some of the most sought after personalised number plates. The most popular are ‘BEN’ (5,318), ‘JOE’ (4,171), ‘MAC’ (3,261), ‘ALI’ (2,960) and ‘LOU’ (2,780).

It doesn’t even have to be your first name – it can be someone else’s; 93 people searched for the number plate ‘TRUMP’ over the past 12 months!

The average cost of a vanity plate is £512, though prices for particularly prized plates can rise much higher. As we revealed in our recent news item, the most expensive plate bought in the UK was ’25 O’ which came with the eye-watering price tag of £518,480.

Even that pales into insignificance compared with the latest number plate purchase by Chinese-Australian billionaire and avid number plate collector Peter Tseng. Tseng just splashed out a whopping £1.5 million (A$2.45 million) on a rare number 4 plate from New South Wales, following a bidding war with another collector. Tseng arrived sporting a number 2 plate on his red Ferrari and apparently calmly kept his hand in the air throughout the entire auction.



(Credit – PetrolPrices)

Car brands attract attention

With the DVLA’s September number plate auction approaching, fans of personalised plates will be on the hunt for the most exciting options available. A surprising number of drivers seek inspiration based on the car that they own. According to National Numbers, the most popular brand-based searches include ‘MERCEDES’ (1,328 searches), ‘JAG’ (2,719 searches) and ‘BMW’ (4,396 searches).

Meanwhile, MoneySuperMarket’s recent survey has found that it is BMW and Audi drivers who top the list of those who are most likely to own personalised plates.

Offensive number plates

According to National Numbers’ research, potty-mouthed plates are also popular in the UK. In fact, there were more searches over the past 12 months for offensive plates than for those relating to people we cherish. For instance, the word ‘F**K’ was searched for 40% more than ‘MUM.’ In fact, over 2,000 people looked up the popular swear word, compared to more than 1,400 for ‘MUM’ and 1,700 for ‘DAD.’

This penchant for profanity is seemingly endless, according to National Numbers, with the highlights/lowlights including:

’S**T’ – 687 searches

‘XXX’ – 1,077 searches

‘D*CK’ – 1,424 searches

‘F**K’ – 2,081 searches

The DVLA takes a very dim view of offensive plates. It has recently been on a culling tour of its number plate database, as the new 67 plate comes online. That said, it doesn’t always work. Successful outbreaks of expletives have included ‘U TO2SER’ on a Lambo and ‘M1LFS’ on a Transit.

It’s worth pointing out that the DVLA reserves the right to scrap your plate if a one-off should make it past quality control. For instance, poor Alan Clarke was gutted to have his number plate ‘BO11 LUX’ withdrawn by the DVLA (though he could bid for ‘TE51 CLE,’ which can currently be found dangling from the back of a UK Corvette).

Autonomy of a plate

For those of us who prefer to stick to what we are given by our car dealer, what do the numbers and letters actually stand for on a plate? The first two letters signify where the vehicle was registered. This is divided into two parts – the first letter is for the region such as B for Birmingham or S for Scotland (see the complete list here). The second represents the DLVA office within the region where the vehicle was registered.

The two numbers in the middle of the plate represent how old the car is, while the final three letters are typically a random selection. The system used for number plate creation offers enough combinations to keep the DVLA producing plates until 2051.

How much would you be willing to spend on a personalised plate? Or are such vanity plates just a waste of money? Let us know your views below.

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