I’ve always found the interest and monitory gains associated with personal number plates quite bewildering, and I’m the first to admit it’s probably because I missed the bus in the early days of them becoming popular.
I understand how they are an investment opportunity as in a work of art, and I can get my head around them more than I can Non-Fungible Tokens, but the prices of number plates all around the world are becoming eye-watering.
Recently in Hong Kong the license plate with the letter ‘R’ sold for HK$25.5 million which is equivalent to Aus$3.2 million and was 5,100 times the reserve price. The suspected reason for the high price is that it’s the first letter of the word ‘Rich’ so it’s seen as a sign of wealth and prosperity.
However, this isn’t the record price for a Hong Kong license plate, that title goes to a sale in 2021 where HK$26 million was paid for the letter ‘W’ and one can only imagine why that fetched such a high price!
Elsewhere in the world like Britain, the lust for number plates by the wealthy is just as strong, and as this article on Bespoke-plates.co.uk highlights, the worldwide industry in number plates is valued around Aus$3.5 billion.
As for the USA, let’s just say that In March 2021, an unassuming mid-1990s Volvo V70 was listed for sale with a price tag of US$20 million (AU$28.9 million) – with a bulk of the asking price attributed to its New York number plate which reads ‘New York’.
Here in Australia the prices of number plates are just as mind boggling, however they vary considerably from state to state.
The national record in Australia was set in 2017 for the NSW ‘4’ registration plate selling for $2.45 million; the Victorian record was set in May 2022 with Vic ‘14’ registration plate, selling for $2,270,500; the South Australian record is for a number plate celebrating the 1985 Formula One Adelaide Grand Prix bearing the number ‘1’ which sold for $700,000; and Queensland’s most expensive number plate ‘Q9’ was sold in 2019 for $363,379.
This Age article by Tom Cowie from last year, gives a good insight as to why the Victorian number plates are selling for as much as they do.
Finally, the worlds most expensive number plate was reportedly sold in 2008, with the United Arab Emirates registration ‘1’ selling for 52.2 million dirhams, which today is equal to approximately Au$20.5 million.