Even when conventional markets are in a recession, there are still those of us who will invest in rare art, antiquities, wine and even racehorses. Recently personalized number plates have been included in this category. But can number plates be a solid investment that you can rely on to keep your money safe?
It is only in the recent past that custom number plates carried an air of controversy with them. Anyone with a personalized number plate was considered a rich or famous person looking to serve their own vanity by putting their own name or initials on something else. But in a very short time, their appeal has grown to include even the average person. If you don’t believe that more and more people are finding personalized number plates interesting consider this; the DVLA makes the Treasury more than £100 million dollars a year selling personalized number plates.
In a survey conducted by a leading number plates seller, 12% of people who bought number plates, did so with an intention to sell them in the future, in other words as an investment. The same survey found that only about 5% bought the plates to personalize their car. About a third of those who bought a plate to personalize their car did so because they thought the plate looked good and fifth to express their individuality.
Age is A Factor
If you are thinking of buying number plates as an investment, you should know that the age of the plate is a very important factor. A plate that was released in 1903, when Britain began registering cars, will be more valuable than a plate released in 2012. The reason is simple; older plates are often in a format long abandoned by the DVLA, making them very rare and when something is rare, it is valuable.
For example, the M 1 plate was owned by Maurice, son of Alan Third Lord Egerton of Tatton. When Maurice died in 1958, he bequeathed most of his possessions including the plate to a National trust. Thus same plate was sold by the National Trust for £331,500 in July 2006 to a wealthy local businessman.
The S 1 plate is another prime example. It was issued to Sir John MacDonald, former Lord of Justice Clerk in Scotland in 1903. He was a motoring pioneer and one of the founders of the Automobile Club of Great Britain and Ireland. In 2008, this plate was sold for £397,500.
Plates with Popular Initials
The only other types of personalized plates that can be very lucrative as those suffixes, prefix and millennium plates whose combination of numbers and letters spell interesting words. For example, the plate D1 ANA became very popular among Princess Diana’s fans. Most people search for plates that spell their names although it is not uncommon to find even more interesting words that may describe someone’s profession or business. For example, plate CEO 1 is highly sought after plate for obvious reasons.
You should, however, keep in mind that while number plate investments may seem easy, especially because of the lack of any additional expenses, like any other investment the prices can go down as well as up.