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Car Sales may be crashing but the sale of private number plates are blooming.  Last year, we spent a staggering £84 millions on them and we’re splashing out more every year, official figures show.

And the industry is surging ahead as motorists, unwilling to risk buying a new car, are snapping up plates instead. Just last week, Surrey businessman Robert Harverson, 47, splashed out £247,652 on his dream plate 1RH which had a reserve of just £8,000 at auction.

It cost nearly twice as much as the Mercedes SL63 AMG car Robert intends to put it on. But Robert, who already owns ten private plates, was clearly determined to win it. He said, “Nothing was going to stop me – it’s the ulitmate plate for me”. He is a high-profile buyer but just one of hundreds of thousands of motorists bitten by the bug.

Personalised plate sales have more than doubled in the past ten years. Every week 150,000 to 200,000 people log on to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency website to check out what is on offer. There are an incredible 35 million plates available, with prices from £250 to £3999. The most desirable are always auctioned to get a high price.

Unlike the value of a new car, which drops dramatically as you leave the showroom, private plates usually rise in value and are seen as good investments.

DVLA marketing manager Damien Lawson said: “In the past. private plates were seen as exclusive to teh rich and famous but now, with prices starting at £245, they have become very affordable.”

“Motorists like them because they give their car a touch of extra individuality and in some cases the plates have a big fun factor”. Damien says plates have become popular gifts, there have also been a big increase in firms buying them for vehicles that act as mobile advertising tools.

And he confirmed that recession-hit motorists were still willing to shell out for plates. Damien addded

” A personalised plate is a lot  cheaper  than a  new car and lots of people see the plate as an investment as well as adding personality to their car”

Recently I found a few good plates at prices that won’t break the bank. There was DO57 COW for a number big on fun for just £990.

The Top Ten prices achieved to paid to date for registrations:

  1. 51 NGH – £254,000
  2. 1 RH – £247,000
  3. K1 NGS – £231,000
  4. 1 A – £200,000
  5. 1 OO – £197,000
  6. 6 B – £130, 000
  7. S1 NGH – £108,000
  8. 1 RR – £106,000
  9. MR51 NGH – £101,000
  10. 1 S – £100,000

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