The World's Priciest Plates: Top 10 Most Expensive Number Plates in History

The World's Priciest Plates: Top 10 Most Expensive Number Plates in History

License plates, once a simple means of identification for vehicles, have transformed into luxury items coveted by the world's elite. The realm of high-end private number plates reached new heights as collectors and enthusiasts alike set record-breaking prices for these unique automotive accessories.

From those that have spent a small fortune on the finest single number plates to those who have to include elements of a name or location, some of the prices of the most sought after reg plates continue to increase, offering both the perfect investment opportunity and the ultimate in car aesthetics.

In this article, we explore the top 10 most expensive private plates globally, each fetching astronomical sums that showcase a blend of exclusivity, prestige, and sometimes, a touch of philanthropy.

  1. '1' - £7.2 million (Abu Dhabi, UAE - 2008): The undisputed champion of the list is the single-digit plate '1,' which set the world record by selling for a colossal 52 million AED (£7.2 million) in a 2008 auction organized by Emirates Auction Company. Saeed Abdul Ghaffar Khouri, CEO of Abdul Khaleq Al Khouri & Bros Co and Milipol International Est, is the proud owner of this symbol of opulence.
  2. 'AA 9' - £7.5 million (Dubai, UAE - 2021): The 'AA 9' plate claimed the second spot in 2021, fetching an impressive 38 million AED (£7.5 million) in a charity auction in Dubai. The philanthropic buyer chose to remain anonymous, adding an aura of mystery to this prestigious acquisition.
  3. 'D 5' - £6.6 million (Dubai, UAE - 2016): In 2016, Indian billionaire Balwinder Sahni secured the 'D 5' plate for a staggering 33 million AED (£6.6 million). Sahni, known for his penchant for lucky numbers, explained that the combination of the fourth letter of the alphabet ('D') and 5 equated to his lucky number 9.
  4. 'O 9' - £4.4 million (Dubai, UAE - 2015): Balwinder Sahni makes another appearance on the list with the 'O 9' plate, purchased in 2015 for 24.5 million AED (£4.4 million). This plate, featuring Sahni's lucky number, further solidifies his presence in the world of high-end number plates.
  5. '5' - £3.5 million (Dubai, UAE - 2007): Talal Ali Mohammed Khouri, a member of the Khouri family, broke records in 2007 by acquiring the '5' plate for 25.2 million AED (£3.5 million). Despite the seemingly arbitrary choice of numbers, Khouri's acquisition marked a historic moment in the world of luxury plates.
  6. '7' - £3 million (Abu Dhabi, UAE - 2010): The '7' plate takes the sixth spot, selling for 16.8 million AED (£3 million) in 2010 in Abu Dhabi. The significance of the number 7 as a symbol of luck and prosperity contributed to the plate's desirability.
  7. '7' - £2.96 million (Abu Dhabi, UAE - 2016): Surprisingly, the '7' plate makes a second appearance on the list, underscoring the fact that the same registration number may be issued in more than one series or category. In 2016, it was sold for 13.4 million AED (£2.96 million).
  8. '9' - £2.15 million (Abu Dhabi, UAE - 2008): Similar to the '7' plate, the '9' registration achieved extraordinary fees twice. First in 2008 for 15.4 million AED and again in 2010 for 10 million AED, solidifying its status as a highly sought-after number in Abu Dhabi.
  9. '28' - £1.6 million (Hong Kong - 2016): Breaking away from the UAE dominance, the '28' plate was sold in Hong Kong for 18.1 million Hong Kong dollars in 2016, equivalent to £1.6 million. In Hong Kong, personalized plates with lucky numbers, like '28,' are considered auspicious and bring good fortune to the owner.
  10. 'NSW 4' - £1.5 million (New South Wales, Australia - 2017): Chinese-Australian billionaire Peter Tseng set records in Australia by purchasing the 'NSW 4' number plate for $2.45 million Australian dollars (£1.5 million in 2017). Tseng, known for his rare plate collection and diverse interests, added another unique piece to his prized possessions.

These extraordinary prices for private number plates underscore the global fascination with personalised luxury items, where even the most mundane elements of life, like license plates, become symbols of wealth and status. As high-net-worth individuals continue to seek unique ways to distinguish themselves, the market for exclusive number plates is likely to see further astonishing transactions in the future.