Prefix number plates: 1983 to 2001
Prefix number plates were introduced in 1983. This was because by 1982 the year suffixes had reached Y, and so from August 1983 onwards the sequence was reversed!
The year-letter suffix now became a prefix giving a format as follows:
- A single letter Prefix. This started again from “A”.
- One to three numbers.
- A space.
- A three number sequence. Again characters within this sequence indicate area of origin.
The available range was now “A1 AAA” to “Y999 YYY”.
NB: During the 90s there was an investigation into a unified scheme for Europe which would incorporate the country of origin. Britain decided not to adopt such a scheme.
The changes in 1983 also brought the letter Q into use. Q was used on vehicles of indeterminate age such as those assembled from kits, substantial rebuilds, or imported vehicles where the documentation was insufficient to determine the age.
Buying prefix number plates
There are many options and combinations which have been released by the DVLA. Some of the most expensive were numbers like “K1 NGS” which sold for £235,000 in 1993, “S1 NGH” and “P1 LOT” both also made around £100,000 each at DVLA auctions. The majority of prefix number plates were sold online via the DVLA personalised registrations website. Numbers with prefix A to Y (excluding I) then one or two numbers (up to 20) followed by three letters were available to buy from only £166 + VAT + £80 transfer fee. This scheme allowed more and more people to enjoy personalised number plates.
Many people who purchased even the most basic combinations were later pleasantly surprised when they realised that they also had quite an investment. Some numbers were, and still are, re-selling for ten times more than what people had originally paid!