If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.

- George Washington

Saturday 8 September 2012

Vanity Plates

Personalised numbers, cherished registrations, call them what you will.  Vanity plates is what they are.  The impulse to have your name or initials (or, even worse, something 'funny') in your car number plate is surely born out of a desire to show off slightly, to mark yourself out as 'special'.  Back in the days before they were available for sale, there was something slightly awesome about a person who had tracked down a vehicle (probably and old banger), bought it, and then transferred the number to his or her own car - often a Jag, for some reason.  Jimmy Tarbuck's COM1C on his Rolls was the most famous example.  But now, anyone with more money than sense can have virtually anything they want on their vehicle, and the rarity value has gone.  It is now merely chavvy.

Having said that, I regard it as a bit of harmless fun.  One day a few years ago, when I was feeling flush, I bought a pair of plates for Anna and myself.  The same single letter and low single number, and then each of our initials.  They are not particularly flash, and I don't feel guilty about doing it, although I regret it now.  Not so much the mild 'look-at-me' thing, as the fact that they make buying and selling a car much more expensive and bureaucratic than it needs to be.  (And it makes stealth operations in a place like rural Pembrokeshire almost impossible.)  I have mine back on the market, but of course in a recession a personalised plate is probably the best example you could find of 'discretionary spending'.  No-one is buying.

Some can be very amusing.  The local bed shop with D1VAN on their delivery vehicle is one (already posted here).  Some are even impressive.  If I ever saw G1NNY or DAV1D or N1GEL I would be moved to smile and tip my hat - well played, Sir or Madam.  But then you get the numbers that are 'supposed' to look like letters.  The local Jaguar dealer had a demonstrator with the registration B16 CAT (and a carefully-placed yellow fixing screw to make the '6' most definitely a 'G'), which was OK, but then you get into things like K3LLY or S4LLY, and the whole thing is starting to move away from reality.

Then I saw this while cruising aimlessly around eBay.  I really don't get it.  At.  All.  Click to engorge.

A great plate for an alien from the planet Tharg called J9MXA.  For a human called Jemma, no.  Even using all the 'rules', it still only reads 'Jgmxa'.  Think he'll get £500 for it?  Unlikely.


  1. I'd go for "stealth" every time. There are normally at least three other cars in the district that could be mistaken for mine at a distance, and I like the anonimity. When I refer to a "Q" car, it's not the number plate!

    There are some clever ones, though. I saw a Range Rover many years ago with 60D and the suitably coloured bolts. He drove like he believed it....

  2. A69 MAN is probably the 'best' I've seen.

  3. My favorite seen here in NZ , Tauranga YY4U.Say it aloud

  4. Personally I'm still waiting to find CHR1S, no luck yet though.

  5. I really don't see how they get Jemma out of that last one either.

    Here in Oregon they have a panel of people that review the requests for vanity plates and even something seeming innocent or that can have two meanings is a no go. You have to submit paperwork with 2 back up possibilities in case they veto your first choice. Party poopers.

    So as a result we don't see too many good ones.

  6. "It is now merely chavvy."

    Oh, the 'accidental' ones aren't too bad, but the ones that are blatantly illegal due to spacing & modification of numbering or font are awful, and I can never understand how they aren't stopped by the police every time they leave the parking space.

  7. Not too many vanity plates here in Minnesota - similar to Trobairtz state. But, we do have what is Whiskey plates. They are plates given to drivers (and family members) vehicles that have had too many DWI so they're easy to identify - white plate with black letters WK and numbers. Good to stay clear of these folks when on a motorcycle.

  8. M18HTY

    On a Fireblade, which I thought was pretty good.

  9. TOS 55R

    I'll get me coat...

  10. Oh, very good. Some more to add to my collection. Thanks all.

    (Helmetorheels - we don't have that system here, probably because the plates would become a desirable 'accessory'.)

  11. Two favourites, both seen locally. LL77 done with inverted "L"s to form a pattern. Also THE 805S totally legal and on a Rolls!


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