For the uninitiated, paying big bucks for rare or unusual license plates might seem completely ludicrous, but it’s definitely a ~thing~… Especially in Dubai, where some plates – like this one that was recently spotted in the wild – are worth millions.
A recent video shared on TikTok shows a Rolls-Royce Cullinan (a car which already costs at least US$350,000) rolling down a highway in the United Arab Emirates’ most populous city wearing license plate #1 – which is easily one of the most expensive number plates in the world.
Dubai #1 was reportedly purchased at auction back in 2008 by billionaire businessman Saeed Abdul Ghafour Khouri for the princely sum of 52.2 UAE dirham (~US$14.3 million), setting the record for the most expensive license plate of all time.
While there are other plates that have either sold or been valued higher, we have no doubt that accounting for inflation, Dubai #1 would remain the most expensive license plate in the world. It’s a lot of money for a piece of aluminium…
WATCH a $14 million license plate stun traffic in Dubai below.
You might be asking yourself: why would someone spend such an insane amount of money on a license plate? Well, they’re actually a surprisingly good investment.
As rare license plate expert Chris Bowden explains, “how many other asset classes do you know that are theft-proof? If someone steals the plate off my car, they don’t own it. I just go with my little folder down to the service centre and I’m good.”
Unlike a rare or classic car, car registrations don’t degrade over time, so you can ‘enjoy’ your investment stress-free. They’re kind of the original NFT. That’s before we start talking about how dramatically they appreciate…
Not all registrations are worth a packet, though. Low numbers (especially #1) are always worth plenty, as are plates with repeating digits or that have pop culture significance e.g. 666, 69, 420, 58008 – you get the picture. It also depends on the country/culture: for instance, plates with multiple 8s are worth more in Asian countries.
Interestingly, the top two most expensive license plates in the world aren’t single-digit plates.
The most expensive plate in the world is reportedly California plate ‘MM’, which has been valued at US$24.3 million. Two-character plates are exceedingly rare in the US, especially ones that use the same character – indeed, there are only 35 of them across the entire country. California ‘MM’ also comes with its own NFT, for added security.
The second most expensive plate is UK plate ‘F1’, which is reportedly up for sale for US$20 million. Guess those Poms love their Formula 1… Fun fact: the current owner, Afzal Kahn (an automotive designer and entrepreneur) currently has it attached to his Bugatti Veyron. Must be nice.
UPDATE 1/12/22: turns out the registration in the video is actually Ras Al-Khaimah plate ‘Y1’. Ras Al Khaimah is one of the seven emirates that make up the United Arab Emirates.
As one of our DMARGE readers pointed out, “unless you are a Sheikh, all number plates are alphanumeric so there are 26 plates of each number combination available… What is more valuable is to collect all letters for your plate combination… As far as I know, nobody can even buy A-Z #1 in Dubai as all of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s Cars are #1 without a letter.”
It’s still an unbelievably expensive plate, although maybe not quite $14 million. For reference, a Chinese expat billionaire bought Ras Al-Khaimah plate ‘X1’ for a whopping 8.3 million UAE dirham (~US$2.26 million) last year.