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Car parts & accessories | 27.02.2014 - 13:17

The True Value of Personalised Number Plates for your car

I have always found it amazing that such a random thing as personalised number plates can have such a mar-mite quality to them.
Number Plate

I have always found it amazing that such a random thing as personalised number plates can have such a mar-mite quality to them. People always seem to have an opinion on them. From one side of the spectrum that thinks they are cool, and a good investment, all the way to the other side that sees them as one big ego boost.


That part is subjective, that much we know, but what is also odd is the seemingly universal fascination in the money side of the industry. Of course, money always grabs attention, but specifically personalised number plates have a rather unique way of invoking interest in value and investment potential.


One of the most common questions that buzzes around is quite simply “How much is this worth?” and there isn’t really a concrete answer to that question. It varies depending on whom you are speaking to. The most answers I have personally come across are:


a) It is worth what someone is willing to pay for it.


b) It is worth what the owner wants for it.


Once again, it depends on whom you ask. Think of it this way – how do you value something that doesn’t really exist?


Personalised number plates are concepts. They are an abstract. Houses can be valued by the worth of their bricks and mortar, gold valued by their weight, gems by their clarity … but personalised number plates? It is essentially opinion. They don’t really mean anything. In the US for example, personalised number plates are cheap and can essentially be anything – so why is the UK so different?


The main reason is supply and demand. The way DVLA formats number plates is quite specific and it limits what personalised number plates are available. Names and words have to be made within a specific format so naturally some names are very hard to come by. The popularity of this name compared to its rarity and the quality of alternatives will drive up the price.


I remember at an auction for personalised number plates when a SINGH registration came up for bid and the room filled up five minutes before and emptied five minutes after. Clearly this shows how personalised number plates have their worth decided. If there is a tonne of people after one specific number plate it will naturally be worth a lot. In contrast, something with a lot of alternatives or something that not many people want will be worth a lot less.


Investment and the prospect of number plates increasing in value over time is another interested question. In practice yes they do, as older number plates take on almost antique status, but when I say old I am talking about pre-1960s or so. Not all personalised number plates do make good investments because there is very little demand.


You also have to think about the two answers from earlier, if you are actively trying to sell it the value will probably be less than a similar plate that the owner doesn’t want to let go. Sentimental value does count when you talk about personalised number plates. It doesn’t matter if a registration is in high supply, if the owner has had it for years and wants to keep it they have no reason to sell it at anything other than what they want for it.


How does someone value a number plate? A combination of market knowledge and gut feeling. Even the most experienced experts might be wrong because you can never know what is going to be popular in the future. If you need a little help contact a dealer of personalised number plates, since they can look at what similar registrations have sold for in the past, giving you the best idea. Always listen to your gut though, as most dealers will advertise your personalised number plates at the price you want.

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