Personalised number plates: tasteful or tacky?

Lesson Type
Last updated: 25 Jun 2013

Last month, the BBC reported that the DVLA raised a staggering £67million from the sale of personalised number plates last year, and it seems that they’re not just reserved for the elite these days.

More and more of us are looking for personalised number plates of our own in order to make our cars stand out on the road, but are they tasteful or tacky? Here we look at some of the most expensive personalised plates from around the world and try to work out whether they’re worth the money or are just a plain waste.

Name plates

One of the most popular options for a personalised plate is to have your name spelt out in a variety of numbers and letters. This becomes tricky when you discover the most obvious option for your name is already taken, though, and car owners have to get more inventive. Making sure it still resembles your name then becomes the biggest challenge.

Initials are another popular favourite, but many people find that theirs is already taken or for sale at an extortionate price. Robert Harverson, a retired businessman from Surrey, spoke to the BBC about his own quest to buy his initials. Having arrived at the auction intending to spend no more than £150,000, all sense of budget went out of the window. As the price hiked up, Robert threw all caution to the wind, as he thought, “It’s my initials, there’s only one, so i’ve got to keep bidding.” £250,000 later and Robert had his prized possession, ‘1 RH’.


These are the ones which tend to air more on the side of tack. Whether you’re a 53XY CH1CK or a 5P33D DEAM0N, there’ll be something out there for you. You could take a leaf out of Katie Price’s book, for example, who has KP11 HOT emblazoned across the back of her pink Range Rover.

Amir Khan’s number plate, B0X IIIG, isn’t a nickname, but more of an explanation of his occupation. As a self-confessed personalised number plate fan, Amir claims, “having a nice plate on your car instead of a normal one, makes a big difference.”

Making a statement

Whether you want people to know who you are, what your job is or what your friends call you, there’s no denying that a personalised number plate is designed to make a statement. None do this more so than some of the most expensive number plates in the world.

As you might expect, ‘1’ tops the list of the most pricey plates in the world, and this belongs to Saeed Abdul Ghaffar Khouri, a wealthy citizen of Abu Dhabi. Purchased for a cool £7million back in 2008, it doesn’t get much simpler (or more expensive) than that.

The most expensive registration plate ever sold in the UK, by the DVLA, however, was 1 D in March 2009. It was bought for £352,000 (but we’re guessing with all those One Direction fans out there, it’s probably now worth even more) trumping the price of driving lessons, insurance and MOTs by miles!

So, tasteful or tacky?

Personalised number plates have, and will remain to be, a source of debate for many years. It’s up to you what you want yours to be and what you want it to say about you, but remember that other people will judge it too!

Having said that, they can be the perfect gift, so why not leave people guessing what it means? As long as you know, that’s all that matters, right?