R3C0RD Y34R for personalised number plate sales

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Detail view of a car number plate that read's 'AV 1'

A surge in so-called 'auto vanity' has lead to record numbers of personalised registration plates being sold. The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) sold a record 374,968 private registrations last year, up 12 per cent in 12 months.

The sale of personalised number plates made the treasury more than £110 million in 2016-17, a record amount for the DVLA.


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Motoring groups suggested the rise in personalised registrations was a way for drivers to stand out. Private plates cost from £250 online, or can be bought at auction, and make a popular gift.

It's also suggested that the plates may be used in vanity, hiding the true age of a car with a non-year-related plate.

Around five million plates have changed hands since the DVLA began selling them in 1989. The latest figures show that 2016-17's £110 million figure represents massive growth in the last few years – up from £96.7m in 2015-16, £79.6m in 2014-15, and just £57m in 2012-13.

Edmund King, president of the AA, is one of those who purchased a £250 plate for his car. He said: "People seem to be holding on to cars for longer and by having a personalised plate the car doesn't age as much as it may otherwise. There is a bit of an auto-vanity about trying to hide the age of your car."

The most expensive plate sold last year was JSK 1. It reached £56,200 at an auction in Cheltenham. It now lives on a black Mercedes-Benz.