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Heritage number plate sale sets a new £6.4m Australian record

Australian number plates NSW1 and Q1

The rankings for the world's most expensive number plate have been dominated by Abu Dhabi and Dubai for some years now. In fact, the UAE had squeezed the rest of the world out of the top ten slots altogether and, along with Hong Kong, had established an Asian monopoly on the top 20 places! That changed on 27th January 2024, when an auction held by Lloyds Auctioneers came to an end.

The auction featured two 'heritage' plates that had raised high expectations of spectacular hammer prices. Australia's heritage plates are the first numbers issued in the country, before the vehicle registration system was standardised nationally in the 1950s. New South Wales numberand Queensland Q1 had attracted a great deal of interest and commentators had speculated that the price of the NSW number could exceed $10 million AUD.

When the hammer eventually fell for NSW number 1, the lucky winner of the auction parted with a total of $12.4 million AUD (approx. £6.4 million GBP). Queensland's Q1 cost its purchaser a total of $6.08 million (approx. £3.2 million GBP).

Heritage number plates as an investment

Australian motoring website said, "The popularity of heritage number plates in Australia has exploded in recent years, with private investors, superannuation funds, and investment firms understood to be adding valuable plate combinations to their portfolios due to their high growth potential."

Australia joins the big spenders

The previous Australian record was held by New South Wales number 4, which sold for $2.4 million AUD in 2017 (£1.5 million GBP at the time). Australia's second most expensive plate, until this latest auction, was the Victoria number 14, which sold for $2.38 million AUD, or £1.3 million GBP, in 2022. Both NSW number 1 and Queensland number Q1 beat the previous Australian records. 

The updated world rankings now show NSW number 1 at position 6 and Queensland number Q1 at position 10. The previous Australian record holders, NSW number 4 and Victoria number 14 appear at positions 23 and 25 respectively.

Number plates history

Australia's most expensive number is a genuine antique, as NSW number 1 was originally issued to the state's Police Commissioner in 1910. A businessman and politician named Sir Frederick Stewart acquired the plate in the 1930s, and the plate remained with his family until sold at the recent auction.

Queensland registration Q1, another antique, was originally issued in 1921 to one James McGuide who was a hotel owner. The number remained in Mr McGuide's family until 1985 when it was sold at auction to Stefan Ackerie, a well-known hairdressing businessman. Mr Ackerie owned the number until it was sold at the recent auction.

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The role of DVLA

Car registrations and number plates, including personalised number plates, in the UK, are the responsibility of the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency, usually known as the DVLA. It issues new registrations twice a year and also maintains the central database that records details of all vehicles licensed to drive on UK roads, along with their keeper and registration information.

Regtransfers works closely with DVLA to complete registration transfers as quickly and efficiently as possible. Regtransfers is a DVLA-registered supplier of personal car registrations and number plates and is listed on the DVLA Registrations website. All number plates supplied by Regtransfers comply with DVLA's prescribed standards and regulations.

DVLA administers all UK registration transfers and issues updated registration documents when the registration number of a car is changed, or when a registration is removed from a vehicle and placed on a retention document in accordance with the DVLA Retention Scheme.

DVLA is a registered trade mark of the Driver & Vehicle Licensing Agency. Regtransfers is not affiliated with the DVLA or DVLA Personalised Registrations. Regtransfers is a recognised reseller of unissued Government stock.

Number plate regulations

When a car is on the road, it is an offence to display number plates bearing any number other than the vehicle's officially recorded registration number. If you purchase a private registration, learn how to transfer private plates before displaying the new number.

All registration number plates displayed on UK vehicles must comply with the official number plate regulations. DVLA oversees enforcement of number plates display regulations and maintains a register of approved manufacturers and retailers of vehicle number plates.

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