It may seem weird, but heritage number plates are big business Down Under – and one plate has just sold for a truly ridiculous sum…
For those not in the know, heritage plates are Australian car number plates that were introduced or issued before plate formats were (somewhat) standardised across the country in the 50s. They’re not to be confused with personalised plates, which is a whole other kettle of fish (and which aren’t nearly as valuable).
While formats differ between states and there’s a wide variety of heritage plates, typically they’re black plates with white digits, numbers only and between 1 and 6 digits. Read this article for a great explainer.
Anyway, what you need to know is that these plates (technically, they’re vehicle registrations) are frequently traded for big sums of money, with lower digits or interesting number combinations (e.g. 777) worth hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars – as is the case with this recent sale.
Victorian plate #14 was sold by Shannons Auctions for a whopping $2,270,500 on Tuesday night during their autumn online auction – a record sum paid for a Victorian two-digit plate and one of the highest prices for a heritage plate ever paid in this country.
That’s not far off from the record auction figure of $2.45 million, which was paid for the NSW #4 plate back in 2017. We wonder how much NSW #1 would go for if it ever went up for auction…
It might seem bizarre but heritage plates are actually a rather good investment. Because ownership is tied to a vehicle’s registration as opposed to, you know, literally the plate itself – it’s theftproof. Plus you can actually ‘enjoy’ it, if you’re the kind of revhead who would get a kick out of having an oddball number plate.
As this sale indicates, heritage plates are rapidly appreciating, too.
“I’ve been doing this for 25 years and it keeps on surprising me,” Christophe Boribon, national auctions and external relations manager for Shannons Auctions says.
“I sold [Victoria #4] in 1998 for $75,000 – you tell me what has appreciated like that in 25 years. Nothing has appreciated like that.”
Other heritage plates that fetched big bucks at the same auction included $202,500 for Queensland “Q-plate” Q-226 and $330,000 for Victoria #6969. Nice.