British licence plate 'worth £1 million'

The man who spent £518,000 on a licence plate last year says it will be worth £1 million eventually


John Collins, the owner of the most expensive licence plate ever auctioned by the DVLA, has said that he believes it will gain even more in value over time, and will eventually become the UK's first £1 million plate.

In November last year the plate - reading 25 O - set him back £518,000, but he told the BBC he would have been willing to pay far more for it - and he eventually expects to be worth £1 million. The plate holds particular value for Collins because he owns a classic Ferrari dealership, and collects the cars. He wants to put the plate on a Ferrari 250.

His belief in the investment potential of the plate lies in the fact that the number plate is such a good match for such an expensive car. In fact a Ferrari 250 recently became the most expensive car ever sold - when a GTO model sold in California for almost £23 million.

Investment potential?

Licence plates in general have some investment potential. They are initially sold at auction by the DVLA - which each year holds back numbers it thinks it can get some money for at auction. Typically they sell for anything between a couple of hundred pounds to a couple of thousand.

However, there is also a huge trade in second-hand number plates, which are sold by brokers. They are either advertised for sale, or when someone wants a plate, the broker will approach the owner and make an offer. The second hand market for plates is particularly volatile, but does tend to increase over time - especially in good economic times when more people have the cash to buy them.

The biggest increases are reserved for the best plates. So, for example, VIP 1 was originally bought for Pope John Paul II's Popemobile in 2004 for £62,000. It was sold two years later to Roman Abramovich for £285,000.

Meanwhile, in 2008 Afzal Khan, a businessman and car collector from Bradford, paid £440,000 for a plate reading F1 - which he put on his Bugatti Veyron supercar. In 2013 he was said to have turned down an offer of £6 million for it.

The experts say the best reason to buy a plate is because it means something to you, and you enjoy owning it. If you pick something popular - and avoid fads that could go out of fashion and lose value - there's also a good chance that over the years it could become more valuable. However, if you fall victim to a fading fad, or a struggling economy where nobody wants to buy plates, then at least you have had some personal value from the plates.

But what do you think? Do so-called vanity plates appeal to you?

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