Cherished number plates
What are cherished number plates?
Cherished number plates, also known as “dateless number plates”, are car registrations that were first issued before 1963 and so do not have a year identifying character.
Cherished registrations have a variety of formats, such as: “A 1”, “A 12”, “A 123”, “A 1234”, “AA 1”, “AA 12”, “AA 123”, “AA 1234”, “AAA 1”, “AAA 12” & “AAA 123”. To complicate matters further, later issues reused these numbers but in the reverse order (with the number first).
As cars became more popular and numerous, a more structured approach was needed and in 1963 the first dated number plate was issued. This had the “suffix” format “BCD 123A”, with the “A” representing the year of issue.
With number plate ages running from January to the end of December, it wasn’t long before the car industry noticed a peak in vehicle sales early in the new year as customers wanted their car’s number plate to proclaim it was new for as long as possible. Lobbying by the motor industry meant that in 1967 a change was introduced so that a registration year would run from August to July, in an attempt to smooth car sales over the year. How successful this move was is debatable!
The first cherished plate in the UK?
The first number plate was issued way back in 1903. On this, the very first registration issue, it was already clear how popular cherished plates would become in the UK: a man named Earl Russell camped outside the vehicle registration office all night in order to make sure he was issued with the UK’s first number plate, the fabulous “A 1”!
Apparently, the cost of registering “A 1” back then was £25 – how things have changed! Moving on 100 years, CarReg assisted the sale of “A 1” (and it’s reverse format partner “1 A”) to a foreign Royal family in a very high-value sale. Both number plates were quickly transferred onto two identical white Bentley Azure’s, ready to collect the new owners from the airport as they arrived on their private airliner!
If “A 1” and “1 A” – the UK’s ultimate cherished number plates – should ever be available on the open market again, we would estimate them to sell for around £5,000,000!