Private number plates, also known as personalised registration numbers were once seen as somewhat of an ego trip. Over the years however, they’ve become more of an investment opportunity with millions pining after that next ‘lucrative plate’. Some people over the years have spent hundreds of thousands in acquiring their desired plates to make their statement – this can be funny number plates, hobby related plates, birthday related – or indeed name related.

Today, the number plate landscape has changed considerably and continues to capture the attention of a broader audience with an immensely diverse age range. No longer just a pricey add-on for egocentrics, cherished number plates are BIG business. Until recent years it was just classic number plates such as 1 PM that were typical examples of personalised number plates – however now, there are actually 5 different categories of number plates that can be acquired.

The originals – Dateless number plates

Known as ‘Dateless Number Plates’ or the ‘originals’ – these were first issued in 1903. Known as the most desirable of plates, these can easily fetch up to £500,000. The positions of the letters make these plates more desirable since they always come first. Two or three numbers followed by a number up to 9999 – an example being LM 9 or ALK 500.

Reverse dateless private plates

These plates are similar to the originals, however, in this case as the name suggests the numbers come before the letters. These are deemed less valuable than the originals but can still fetch a fair old whack at sale. Examples of these types of plates would be 1234 PO, 99 AA or 00 JAY.

The DVLA Introduces Suffix

Move forward to 1963 and this brought the announcement from the DVLA of ‘suffix’ registration plates. With these particular plates the last character (a letter) would represent the year. This range of plates extends all the way until 1983. Some examples of these plates would be something like PET 9E, or LAD 7P.

Although these are nowhere near as valuable as the aforementioned plates, combinations of letters and numbers to make a name are highly sought-after – for example PET 3R for Peter or JAM 1E for Jamie.

Enter, the Prefix

Next to be released were the prefix range of registration plates. These ranges of plates covered from 1983 – March 2001 where the first character, a letter, represents the year.

Over the years I’ve seen some amazing number plates that string together a name with these particular plates including S1 MON & W4 TER. These plates are also great for initials too – such as P93 JSM (my initials).

New Style Registration Plates

Here’s where we are now – the new style plates – which were introduced in September of 2001 and will be here to stay all the way until 2099. The new style plates have middle numbers that represent the release date of a particular model of car. There are notoriously two digits indicating the year and if the registration was issued in the first or later part of that year. Example here would be 54 which would represent the later half of 2004.

The new style registration plates opened a realm of possibilities for potential buyers with a lot more combinations available to suit what they’re looking for. For example if your name was Russell, you could have RU55 ELL.