top of page

Personalised Car Registration Plates: Discuss

Updated: Apr 8

We need YOU to settle a light-hearted debate that’s been raging here at WCC Towers of late.

Personalised car registration plates that purportedly project a means by which we can instantly recognise the driver as ______________ (please complete the sentence depending on your fundamental belief system). 

Is it not just an overtly contrived way of spelling out a name or highlighting said driver’s perceived status in the grand scheme of exhibitionist things.

Or - as an alternative school of thought - is it nothing more offensive to the causal observer than a bit of harmless fun, akin to modifying your car if you’re of the boy racing fraternity.

Served On A Plate

Personalised number plates always tend to polarise opinion. And at the end of the day it’s simply down to individual tastes, of course.

The problem is, nowadays everyone wants in.

Once upon a class-war time and place, private reg plates, perennial skiing holidays and Burberry were the sole preserve of the Downton Abbeyists.

Then Guy Ritchie came along with his closeted private education and working class-done-good narrative and made all these trappings within the aspirational reach of the Tacchini hobbyists.

Not that long ago old money almost accidentally flaunted their two lettered one numbered wealth at the opposing ends of a VW Polo. A non-estate car that rarely left the estate from whence it came. Save for MOT time.

To the manor, born, and all that.

Only they don’t flaunt. They nonchalantly go about their business of overseeing inheritance facilitation largely unscathed by the CARnor MacGregor approach to subtlety.


Where There’s A Claim, There’s Blame

We blame Audi, it goes without saying.

Originally a somewhat niche brand of understated - yet highly evolved - cars which travelled way below the superficial radar. And about as CARdashian as a Sinclair C5.

Favoured by directors of provincial aerosol-manufacturing companies as a resolute (yet sophisticated and quirky) vehicle which did as much to convey flashiness as the car of choice for architects throughout the 1980’s and 90’s.

That particular weapon of choice being the largely non-descript Saab 900.

Yet then hijacked by those with ideas way above their station.

With delusions of grandeur fragmented the moment they casually refer to ‘them’ not ‘those’.

Are The Culprits Solely Audi Drivers?....

Alas, no. 

But in terms of the VW Audi Group family, it’s only really Ingolstadt and Crewe which are as guilty as charged of perpetuating the visuality of the aspirational classes. 

As an example, we continue our journey through the annals of the VW Audi Group portfolio, arriving next at Skoda

Now think on this for a moment.

When was the last time you clocked a Skoda Fabia with a personalised reg plate?

SEAT too.

Anyone recall observing a 2005 Leon with elaborately spaced alphanumericals which apparently read as ‘B1G 8ALL5?'

We very much doubt it.

(apparently we'll like it. But not a lot)

Weren’t Private Reg Plates Always A Thing?

Indeed they were.

And as we’ve already intonated, they’re nothing new.

But their omnipresence now mirrors that of the once seldom-seen tattoo. The inking of choice for former sailors, bikers, maverick creative types and reformed jailbirds. Individuality then took on sheeple values. 

Not that psychologists would necessarily agree.

Sorry, But What Do Psychologists Have To Do With It?

Psychologists have a lot to do with everything, post-Big Brother.

As is often the case, experts have turned to psychologists to try and determine just why certain people do certain things that are otherwise unfathomable to the non-academic mind. 

However, ‘the best’ those quizzed on the subject can come up with is this. According to who approached some psychologists for their take last year.

People who elect to adorn their vehicle with a personalised registration plate do so because they see such actions as promoting their ‘individuality’.

What? Like the millions of other UK drivers who want perfect strangers to know their nickname. Providing they adopt great swathes of creative license and repeatedly squint.

Said psychologists went on to decree the following. ‘By choosing a personalised plate, drivers can make an assertive statement about their identity and style, and differentiate themselves from other drivers on the road.’

To be fair, we have to agree with them there.

They certainly mark themselves out.

(er, actually not at all)

Said psychologists went on to add; ‘This sense of individuality (there’s that word again) can be particularly important for people who value their cars as an extension of their brand or image.’

Clearly not believing that their mid-ranging Audi A5 is doing the job on its own merits.

Aha. And here comes the rub. 

Next paragraph, ‘personalised plates can also be a status symbol; signalling to others that the driver is successful, influential or well-connected.’

Oblivious to the fact that their decisions behind the wheel and general attitude when driving are probably already doing that on their behalf. 

In the interests of a balanced argument however, there are those who purchase personalised registration plates as an investment.

Like they would part ownership of a race horse if, say, they were the manager of a lower league football team.

Or by similar tokens; fine wine, art and expensive watches.

Seen by many experts as a smart financial investment, personalised number plates are now said to be more profitable than the latter on the above list. 

Yeah. But Remind Us About That Old Adage About Fools And Their Money Again?....

Well, there was the recent case of a motorist who paid more than £15k for the ‘MA55 AGE’ plate, as a discreet tribute to his partner’s profession.

She was a masseuse, for anyone unable to make the immediate connection. 

He quickly became incandescent with rage on learning that the plate in question was worth in the region of £5 - £6k when he tried selling it. Having previously been informed by the plate transfer company that sold it to him that its future value could be in the vicinity of £30k. 


That’s credit crunching, right there.

(Amstrad Motors Ltd)

Also In 2023….

Also in 2023, Admiral Car Insurance carried out a survey to try and determine the professions of those who championed a personalised number plate.

To observe any patterns. 

In terms of occupation, and it seems that those in the property sector are considered the most likely to own a personalised plate.

Landlords (23%), property developers (22%) and housing directors (16%) all feature prominently amongst the Top 20 professionals who own custom-made vehicle reg plates

Yet claiming top spot (with some 38%) of Admiral’s poll findings, were company directors.

Again, potentially not a huge surprise. 

Conversely, those ‘actual’ individuals employed in the creative sector represented drivers least likely to own a private plate.

At this opposing end of the spectrum, the likes of animators (2%), along with illustrators, TV producers and copywriters (3%) typically shied away from facilitating numbers and letters to tenuously spell something borderline illiterate in the most part.  

Ultimately, archaeologists turned out to be the least egotistical of the career choices, with a mere 1.7% of rock-dusters confirmed as both a private reg and Admiral car insurance policy holder.  

Mid-ranging Audi A5’s Aside, What Other Automotive Brands Tend To Sport Bespoke Plates?

Luxury marques, as if you weren’t aware.

With Bentley Continentals deemed most likely to have a personalised plate. 

Staying with Admiral’s recent research, and a whopping 61% of Bentley Continental owners on their books possess private insignia. 

On the flip side, just 1% of Chevrolet Matiz owners insured with Admiral have one. 

Which kinda lends credence to our previous statement.

(it's hard to argue against...)

Did You Know?....

Anyway, to conclude, here’s a few more fascinating factoids about personalised car registration plates. This time courtesy of MoneySuperMarket

  • Drivers with personalised plates are SIX times more likely to have received a speeding ticket.

  • Men are more than TWICE as likely to have a personalised plate than women.

  • There are currently 456 pages of BANNED number plates. Encompassing those that have been adjudged to be controversial, offensive, obscene, homophobic and/or politically/religiously sensitive. 

  • Robbie Williams once bought the number plate, ‘S8 RRY’; which he attached to the front and rear of his Ferrari at the time as a way of countering the flashiness of his acquisition in response to receiving a bit of a public backlash. Textbook Robbie.

  • The very first ‘celebrity’ to own a personalised vehicle registration plate was a famous musical hall star of his day, called Harry Tate. The plate in question was ‘T 8’. This self-same plate is today owned by a certain Jonny Tate, apparently. One of the movers and shakers at the world famous Tate & Lyle sugar company. 

As ever, your thoughts, feelings, opinions on the subject of personalised vehicle registration plates are to be encouraged.

*Footnote - a number of folk at WCC Towers own private plates. The author of this blog included. Ergo, it's purely a bit of harmless fun.

31 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page