Since 1903 it has been a legal requirement for motor vehicles in the UK to be fitted with number plates. The initial response to the 1903 Act was far from favourable but these vehicle identifiers have now become not only acceptable but, in the case of certain “cherished” numbers, highly desirable with some of the most sought-after changing hands for tens or even hundreds of thousands of pounds. Some people question just why the concept of “personal plates” is so popular and there is no single answer. For some it is a simple matter of one-upmanship whereas others may not wish to display their vehicle’s age but for many it is simply a matter of good fun.
For most private number plate hunters the initial thoughts are likely to be just that … initials! For many years people have chosen to adorn their vehicles with their own initials along with a preferably low or distinctive number and although such numbers are often offered for sale, a potential purchaser must be prepared to pay a substantial sum in most cases. One of the main problems is that many of us share the same initials meaning that demand greatly outstrips supply. However there is no reason why we cannot adopt a middle name to match the numbers available and who is to know whether your middle name is actually Xavier? Nicknames are also very popular and most people can find something appropriate.
The early registration marks, pre-1963/4, gave no indication of the vehicle’s age and so these are always popular especially when the letter/number combination also has some relevance to its owner but those who simply wish to hide the vehicle’s age may wish to consider buying one of the widely available numbers from Northern Ireland which are not only dateless but can also have interesting letter combinations.
Match the Car
Many car brands are simply known by initials such as MG, TVR etc. and many more are popularly known by shortened names such as Jag, Pug etc. Specific models are almost invariably given letter/number names such as M3, A4 etc. so it is often possible to match the number to the car. Some true petrol-heads may prefer to identify their power-plants as V8, V6, etc.
Jobs and Hobbies
Rather than matching the plate to their name, many people prefer to have something relative to their field of work or interests such as the uses of the digits 999 for those in the emergency services, K9 for dogs, or letters to indicate a profession. Motorsport enthusiasts may be tempted by the good range of F1 plates currently available and darts fans may find the number 180 to be of relevance.
Substituting Numbers and Letters
One of the most fun aspects of choosing a registration number is in looking at the different ways that characters can be read. The exact style of the characters and the method in which they can displayed is of course determined by law but it is easy to see that some numbers can easily be read as letters spelling out a word. As an example, B16 or B19 becomes BIG. There are countless variations but some of the most common are as follows:
1=I, 12=R, 13=B, 15=IS, 2=Z, 3=E, 4=A, 5=S,6=G(B or C), 7=Y(T or F), 8=B, 9=G, 0=O.
Using Slang Shorthand
Most of use are familiar with text talk which we used primarily for sending text messages via push-button mobile phones. Of course most people have now moved on to smartphones with full QWERTY displays making messaging much simpler and allowing for proper grammar and spelling but old habits die hard and in this case technology has simply produced a whole generation of unparalleled illiteracy but, on the bright side, such slang can produce some GR8 ideas when looking for a number plate!
Fit for Two
The current style of number plate is often criticised for being unsuitable when trying to match it to a set of initials as it has two sets of letters. The answer is absurdly obvious and is to match it to two people.
So everyone is sure to be able to find a private number plate relevant to them and these days it is a simple matter to either buy a new number directly from DVLC or to check out some of the numbers offered for sale by specialist dealers. With literally millions of numbers on offer, many sites provide a simple search facility whereby a few digits can be entered in a box to check availability. The whole process can be fun but is rather addictive! Potential buyers with plenty of spare cash may be interested to know the prices paid for some of the very best private numbers. The top ten are as follows:
(1)25 O £518K
(6)VIP 1 £285K
(7)51 NGH £254K
(8)1 RH £247K
(9)K1 NGS £231K
Thankfully not all private numbers fetch such eye-watering prices and there are still many bargains to be found but, if it proves impossible to find the number to match the name, there is always the alternative of keeping the number you have and changing your name to match it!