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What is a cherished number plate?

Since number plates first made its appearance in the UK in 1903, the country has implemented six different number plate formats for vehicles. As a sign of the times perhaps, the first three formats, which encompassed the 59-year period between 1903 to 1932, 1933 to 1950, and 1950 to 1962, did not include age identifier tags.

The absence of age identifiers were resolved starting from the fourth format, which commenced in 1963 and ended in 1982. Owing to the advantages that age identifiers provide for vehicle management and trading, age identifiers were incorporated into the next two number plate formats, which spanned from 1983 to 2000 and 2001 to today (UK’s present number format).

However, as they say, absence makes the heart grow fonder. Beginning from the late 80s onwards, motorists began pining for the days when number plates did not include age identifier tags. For car dealers, the absence of the tag was actually useful in maximising the resale value of second hand cars. Within a short period, the plates without age identifiers began to be called cherished plates, because, err, they were cherished.

Not only for the absence of age tags, but also because cherished plates, which is better known as as dateless plates today, are much prettier to look at. This is before we even consider the length of the alphanumeric marks.

Supply and Demand

As demand for cherished plates grew, the prices became progressively higher. By the time DVLA formally took part in number plate sales in 1989, cherished plates were regularly being sold for four figure sums.

Many dealers, plate flippers and investors started to stockpile the cherished plates. Like diamonds, the restricted supply of cherished plates drove the prices increasingly higher.

By the early parts of the 21st century (the mid-00s, to be precise), two and three characters cherished plates were trading in the five figure range. But it didn’t stop there. In 2011, two 2-character cherished plates, broke the half a million pound barrier; G1 sold for £500,000, and X1 for £502,500.

It was around this time that people begun to realise something else about cherished plates – they were old, really old. Many three character plates were over a century old, and carried great historical significance.

Prices of cherished plates are expected to soar again in the coming years. One number plate investor, Afzal Kahn, has just listed F1, which he purchased for £440,625 in 2008, for sale at over £14.7 million.

If are tempted on getting in on the action, the best place to look for a high quality cherished number plate is at private auction houses. Get in touch with them, and ask to be kept abreast of future auctions. If you are willing to settle for more common cherished plates, head on over to one of the many online marketplaces – cherished plates are regularly sold at such places.