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Buying a Used Car With a Special Number Plate

By: Scott McBride - Updated: 15 Sep 2010 | comments*Discuss
 
Number Plate Used Car Personalised

It is always worth taking a look at the number plate when viewing a used car for sale. The car itself might not be up to much, but if the number plate is an unusual one it could still be worthwhile going ahead with the purchase. That’s because personalised number plates are big business and the best ones can command hefty price tags. The number plates could easily be worth more than the car itself.

Of course, car dealers know the value of special number plates, so don’t expect to find anything too unusual on their forecourts. Most private sellers will know if the number plates they have are worth something and, if so, will usually keep the plates for themselves or sell them on separately.

Nonetheless, every now and again, a bargain can be found. Perhaps a relative has inherited a car and sells it on without giving the number plates a second thought. Or perhaps the seller feels the number plate is of little value, even though you know its true worth.

Valuable Numbers

It is very easy to get an idea of what specific number plates are worth. Every year, the DVLA holds around six auctions of personalised registrations at locations throughout Great Britain. The results of these auctions can be found on the Internet.

At the DVLA auction held at Whittlebury Hall, Northamptonshire on 28th-30th January 2009, the number plate ‘1 O’ sold for £170,000 – enough to buy a nice house, never mind a car – ‘1 HRH’ made £92,000 and ‘3 S’ sold for £76,000. Generally speaking, the shorter the number plate, the more it will be worth, and you would have to be extremely fortunate to find a cheap, used car with such a number plate.

Not all valuable number plates are short, though, and some registrations that look run-of-the-mill at first glance can bring in a tidy profit. For example, at the same Whittlebury Hall auction, ‘LE57 ERS’ sold for £1300, ‘BU57 ERS’ made £2600, ‘CO57 TAS’ got £1400, ‘EA57 ERN’ sold for £2500, ‘EA57 ERS’ pulled in £1500 and ‘FO57 ERS’ made a mouth-watering £6800.

Letter Jumble

When viewing a used car, take a look at the number plate and think about whether or not it is special enough for someone to be willing to part with a lot of money in order to own it. Remember that certain numbers can be used to represent letters and vice versa, such as in ‘PHO 388E’ which sold for £1300 or ‘PEU 680T’ which made £1400.

Maybe a certain registration would appeal to a football fan of a particular club, or the owner of an expensive car, so don’t dismiss number plates with ‘MUFC’, ‘JAG’ or ‘911’ included without careful consideration.

Be realistic, though, because not every special number plate is going to make thousands or even hundreds of pounds and buying a used car for its registration number is always a gamble. Even if you spot a potential money-maker, don’t just rush in and offer the asking price for the car. Instead, inspect the car and haggle with the seller to get the best possible price and reduce the element of risk.

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