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This Rare License Plate Was Auctioned Off for $500k

Have you ever thought about getting a personalized license plate for your car, but shrugged it off because you didn’t want to pay the yearly fee for it? You’re not alone, but what’s more, there are people out there that will pay their top dollar for a personalized plate. In fact, in the UK, one person even paid the equivalent of $500,000 for a rare plate.

“The lower the number, the more prestigious the plate.”

That sum of money might seem ridiculous to you, but in the UK, rare license plates are apparently a thing. Back in September, The Sun reported that an anonymous bidder from Jersey bid an astronomical $500,000 for a number plate with just two characters: “J 4.” The elusive plate allegedly belonged to a government official, Lieutenant-Governor Sir Stephen Dalton, who auctioned it off to buy an electric car. The new owner now owns the rights to use the number plate on their vehicle but doesn’t actually own the plate itself.

From what The Sun reported, “The lower the number, the more prestigious the plate,” which is why that particular plate sold for such a high amount. Fox News recently reported another example of this practice when another plate that originated in Birmingham, U.K., was auctioned off for $170,000. The plate, which reads “0 10,” originally belonged to a man named Charles Thompson who had it since 1902 all the up until 1955 when he gave it to his grandson who subsequently used it until 2017 when it was auctioned off.

The rare "010" plate
The rare “010” plate | Silverstone Auctions

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$500,000 isn’t the record, though

You might think that someone paying $500,000 for a license plate must be some kind of record, and it is in the U.K. However, the real record goes to a businessman named Saeed Abdul Ghafour Khouri who paid the equivalent of $14.3 million back in 2008 in Abu Dhabi for a highly coveted local license plate. The number on that plate was very low as well, as it only read, “1.”

According to the original story published by ABC News, many oil-rich cities are driven by the car culture and low-number plates are very rare and the most sought-after. The prices increase for the plates with fewer numbers and more specific digits because car enthusiasts like to link their plates with their own personal identity. For example, if someone owns a Ferrari 599, then they would likely want to find a plate that says “599” and would pay big money for it.  

A rare Alaskan license plate that sold for $60,000
A rare Alaskan license plate that sold for $60,000 | Forbes

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Are license plates valuable in the U.S.?

While it’s easy to think that the valuable license plate game is popular only in other parts of the world, there are plenty of collectors right here in the U.S. as well. Forbes reported that an old Alaska license plate made in 1921 once sold for an astonishing $60,000.

Apparently, that particular plate was one of only four plates in existence that were issued by Alaska before it became part of the United States. There have been plenty of other collectible U.S. plates that have sold for tens of thousands of dollars as well, so it’s safe to say that license plate collecting is quite the global hobby.