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Can a car number plate worth £520,000?

When the auctioneer’s hammer came down, classic car dealer John Collins was looking at a bill of over £500,000.

However, it was not a rare Ferrari that he had bought. It was only a number plate.

The registration plate “25 O” is still the most expensive ever bought at a Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) auction. Even so, Mr Collins, who owns classic Ferrari dealer, says he would have fought more at the auction for the plate which matches the 250 model.

“It was a question of holding one’s nerve until the very end,” he says, while looking at the plate on the vehicle which itself is estimated to be worth millions.

“I’m glad it stopped where it stopped – £520,000. You could buy a couple of nice cars with that.

“I hate to say it but it could have been the first £1m number plate. I’m glad it wasn’t, but I hope one day it will be.”

He is not the only motor fanatic buying a personalised number plate as an investment as the popularity and value of some plates have been rising significantly in the past few years.

Mr Collins bought his record-breaking car number plate at one of the DVLA’s big auctions. The Agency holds five physical auctions and four online auctions every year, but there are also 30 million registrations to purchase on its website.

Prices start from £250. Roughly 4.2 million have been sold since the DVLA began selling them in ‘89, with more than £2bn raised for the Treasury since then.

Jody Davies, auction manager at DVLA Personalised Registrations, says that the usual price for those that go for auction is about £2,000. Their popularity, she says has never really subsided, but the motives for purchases are many and varied, just like the prices.

There are obviously the new editions to the normal registration plates released twice a year. The fresh run, carrying the number 15 to designate the year, have been on the roads since the start of March. When the DVLA issues these plates, it suspends some of them from sale as they could be considered as tailored and sold as such.

The cost of getting a custom-made number plate does not necessarily end at an auction or with a broker. There is the cost of getting the actual number plate made up of course. Drivers doing so will have to carry a certificate of entitlement to prove that the number can be used.

This certificate needs to be renewed for a charge of £25 but very soon, this only needs to be done every 10 years. There may also be a charge to assign the registration number to the vehicle of their choice in the future. All the rules are outlined on the government’s website.

Insurers should also be informed of any change of registration.

Remember once you’ve purchased the right to the plate, to order the physical plate using our custom plate designer.

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