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How are number plates valued?

Ultimately, the value is based on what someone will pay for a plate. National Numbers have been dealing in registrations since 1981 and have an extensive history of plate transactions. We have commissioned a number of datasets covering, for example: popular names and initials, car makes, car ages, population demographics which, along with their extensive experience and technical knowledge, our valuation experts use to analyse the data and predict a realistic price.

Here are some of the factors that will influence the prices of registrations:

  • The supply of similar plates. Some plate sequences are very rare because of scrappage or because few were originally released by the DVLA.
  • Anticipated DVLA releases. The DVLA regularly release new sequences of plates and National Numbers analyse the effects of these releases on the current and future price of similar plates.
  • The type of plate: Dateless, Suffix, Prefix or New Style.
  • The look of the plate:
    • Some numbers such as 99 or 1 or 123 have more appeal than others. 1 is the most prized with F 1 fetching £430,000 while A 1 is rumoured to have changed hands for about £1,000,000.
    • Numbers are often significant when they relate to high end car models such as Ferrari, Aston Martin, Bugatti etc. John Collins purchased 25 O for £518,000 in 2014. The plate is registered to a Ferrari 250 SWB (once owned by Eric Clapton).
    • Many numbers have cultural, religious or spiritual value such as 786. Plates with this number have become much sought after due to the ascribed meaning of Bismillah Irahman Iraheem (In the name of Allah, Most Beneficent, Most Merciful).
    • Numbers can look like letters e.g. 5 is like an S and 1 is like and I or L so the whole or part of the plate can read like a word.
    • Letters are probably the most important aspect of a plate. Many plates are sold because they match initials or short names and some sets of initials and names are more common than others.
    • As a rule of thumb, the shorter the letter and number sequence the more expensive the plate: e.g. BEN 8 will be more expensive than BEN 874.
  • The current zeitgeist; for example, plates with the word BOSS (BO55) have been very popular over the last few years and we?re seeing a rise in sales for plates showing dog breeds such PUG or LAB.
  • Plate provenance: A value is now attached to registrations because of their history. Owners of classic, veteran, vintage or post vintage cars often seek plates that reflect the age of the car. In addition, plates have geographic indicators and owners sometimes want their registration to reflect a particular area of the country, for example on this prefix plate: C20 CCV, the issuing office for CCV was Truro, Cornwall until 1986. As the history of registrations grows richer and more interesting we have found the plates owned by famous people or that have been on iconic vehicles fetch good prices. In 2008, the first car registration issued in Edinburgh in 1903: S 1 was sold for £397,500.
  • An added complication is that the number plate age indicator must be the same age or older than the car. Some of the releases of the new style millennium number plates can be very attractive; notably the release of 11 plates (ll or ii) and 15 (ls or is) produced some great full word plates. Buyers keen to obtain a registration but without the appropriate vehicle are able to keep the plate on a certificate.
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