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Offline AshSimmonds

  • Geekitecht

  • Joined: Feb 2006

  • Drives: GF's shitbox :(
  • Location: Adelayed
  • Name: Humble Narrator
  • www: AshSimmonds.com
Driven by plate expectations

Personalised number plates send strong - and subtle - messages to other drivers.

The next time a car with personalised plates cuts in front of you, think twice before honking if you want to avoid confrontation. Psychologists at Colorado State University released a paper last year claiming the more drivers personalise their car, the more likely they are to show road rage.

The theory is that marking their car is a sign of territoriality, with the study saying the "mere presence of a territory marker predicts increased use of the vehicle to express anger".

In other words, it doesn't matter whether the plate says something happy or sinister (and it's amazing how many have 666 on them) - if you get too close, these drivers will think you're invading their space.

This might sound nutty but there's a lot about number plates that can be surprising.

In October, for example, a hapless US driver made the news because his XXXXXXX plates kept getting him parking fines meant for other people. The Alabama man reportedly chose that because his nickname is Racer X and his lucky number is seven but considering that his local parking officials use seven Xs on their forms when issuing tickets for unknown number plates, he might need a rethink. (There have been similar stories over the years about people who received fines thanks to plates that say NO PLATES, NOTAG, VOID and MISSING).

In September, personalised plates appeared in the British press after two bank robbers were caught in Cardiff, Wales, because they used a car with plates that said J4MES, which witnesses found particularly easy to remember. What's interesting is that the robbers pulled off what the judge described in court as a "professional, sophisticated, planned robbery" and yet they were caught out by such a ludicrous oversight.

While the bank robbers made the mistake of taking their plates for granted, other personalised-plate holders certainly don't underestimate their plates' impact and value, judging from the often astronomical sums they try to sell them for on trading sites. At the time of writing, for example, a Queensland couple were trying to sell their ELVI5 plates for $400,000.

The husband, Stan Bennett, said he originally bought an ELVI5 number plate in 1984 as a birthday present for his wife, who he calls "an Elvis freak", and has since upgraded to various number-plate styles, including an Elvis-themed one launched by Personalised Plates Queensland (the state's official body that sells new plates) that has a photo of the King on it.

Bennett says he's now selling the plates because he and his wife have retired and were told by PPQ that they could be worth a lot of money. "They [PPQ] think I'm crazy for selling them so cheap," Bennett says.

On sites such as TradingPost.com .au, JustCars, MrPlates.com.au and NumberPlateTrader.com, the prices for second-hand plates range so dramatically they almost seem arbitrary. When we searched for NSW plates on MrPlates, for example, we saw HEVYW8 being offered for $150,000, SEAN for $5900 and OHARRY for $499.

Bruno Szajer, who runs MrPlates.com.au, says the prices sellers ask for are often unrealistic.

"From my experience, if someone is really interested in the number plates they will make their own offer regardless of the published price," he says.

Having said that, Szajer says some drivers don't realise how valuable their current plates are, especially if it's a numeral type that is either unusual or signifies something such as a model number for a car.

"Our top reported sales are all numeral plates, with the most expensive plate [1911] selling for a whopping $40,000," Szajer says. "Occasionally I spot a numeral plate on something like a Corolla and wonder if the driver realises their number plates are worth more than the car."

Numeral plates may be worth more on average but it's the humorous and raunchy ones that often grab attention, which is why Simone Armstrong is hoping to sell SMUT69 for $8000 and SMUTTY for $6000 on www.NumberPlateTrader.com.

"I am not too fussed if they don't sell as I am happy to hold on to them until I receive the price I want for them," she says, adding that she bought them many years ago because her former partner's nickname was "Smutty".

"There were some funny reactions [to the plates] - most people smiled or laughed - but I must admit they did draw a lot of attention to the car [an SS Commodore].

"I must admit, when the plates were on the car there was a lot of guys that used to line up at the lights and want to drag. With the dark-tinted windows, they didn't know who was driving and I may have taken up the challenge once or twice, just to wind down the window at the end to see that they got beaten by a 21-year-old blonde girl. Fun memories but a long time ago!"

Another seller is Natalie Buckley, who inherited a car with GUN 007 plates. These were used to promote the company Gunnersen Timbermark but Buckley thinks a Bond fan might be interested in them now.

"We've been given estimates by different people and yeah, they've told us substantial amounts but I suppose it's about finding the right person - and I'd say it would be someone from an Aston Martin club or something like that," she says.

Buckley is selling the plates because she wants a new car and, since the plates are tied to a '93 Fairmont, she's selling both together so the buyer can then transfer them to their own car. As far as Buckley's concerned, the car is almost a giveaway since the sale is all about the plates - but she says the benefit is that there are no yearly fees associated with them.

The question of what fees are attached to plates and what rights drivers have in terms of selling and transferring them is a complex one.

In NSW, there are four main types of customisable plates: Standard, which means you can choose the colour and style (for example, you could make them black and silver); Personalised, which means you can choose numbers and letters within a fixed format; Personalised Plus, which allows you to choose letters and numbers in any combination as long as you have at least one letter; and numeral-only plates, which can be bought solely through RTA auctions and second-hand.

The law is that you can't sell or transfer the right to display plates other than those that are Personalised Plus or numeral-only and, regardless of the type you own, in reality you're just renting them from the RTA.

"Customers never own the plates, the plates are always owned by the RTA," says the commercial manager of the RTA's Special Number Plates division, Paul Dennett.

"They purchase the rights to display the plates."

As such, when buying second-hand plates it's advisable to exercise caution to make sure the sale is above board.

"Our advice is to check with the RTA prior to purchasing plates through a third party [to see] whether or not that plate is currently available and if the person selling it has the right to display it," Dennett says.

The RTA number for people to phone is 131 758. Those who want to buy new plates from the RTA are recommended to go to NRMA's myplates.com.au website.

'It's not about me but the car'

What do you do after you buy the 1982 Jaguar XJ6 Series 3 Sovereign of your dreams? If you're Dave Mann, a design studio manager from Newtown, the next step is to get personalised plates to go with it.

"I always wanted a private number plate," he says. "I said to myself that if I ever get something that I'm proud of to drive then I'll get a plate to match so it becomes part and parcel of the car."

Mann initially planned to get plates that had his name on them but is glad he thought about it before rushing in.

"When you go and start looking at plates, you always think it's about you," he says. "I really liked DAVE 1 and I really liked MANN 1 and then I sat down and thought logically about it is that something that if Alana [his wife] goes out and drives the car and it says DAVE 1, is it going to look like I'm a complete prick? The answer is yes."

Mann also toyed with the idea of getting a plate like JAGUAH but in the end he bought JAG 82X with a black and silver colour scheme (the Jaguar is silver in colour).

"I wanted to get something that reflects the car," he says. "JAG 82X tells the story of what the car is.

"I was in the mechanics' and he told me it was a nice plate for the car and the garage was full of Jags and they've all got JAG something on them and he said, 'You're doing the right thing for the car' but if I put JAGUAH on it , it would've been too comical. It's a weird thing. You're judging how much respect the plates are going to get."

Despite initially looking at buying private plates, Mann used myplates.com.au, the RTA's site, which he says was easy to use and let him play with different plate combinations. The plates cost him $200 to buy and $90 a year to license and he thinks they were worth it.

"The plate gives it a certain amount of prestige up and above where the car is at," Mann says. "It completes the car."


Offline AshSimmonds

  • Geekitecht

  • Joined: Feb 2006

  • Drives: GF's shitbox :(
  • Location: Adelayed
  • Name: Humble Narrator
  • www: AshSimmonds.com

Offline mondi

  • Resident Bogan
  • Moderator

  • Joined: Jul 2008

  • Location:
  • Drives:
Deary me.

Well, there you go. By general consensus, everybody here who likes number plates is a Bogan, period.

Or a wanker???   :rolleyes:

Offline Ferrari Fissatore

  • Soap Dodger

  • Joined: Jan 2007

  • Drives: its obsession
  • Location: under its skin
Deary me.

Well, there you go. By general consensus, everybody here who likes number plates is a Bogan, period.

Or a wanker???   :rolleyes:

Both  :tilt:

Offline allanuber

  • Joined: Aug 2007

  • Location: Sydney
  • Name: Al
Deary me.

Well, there you go. By general consensus, everybody here who likes number plates is a Bogan, period.

Or a wanker???   :rolleyes:

Shuddup you bogan wanker  :)
C'mon, do it!

Offline RMV

  • A Country Member

  • Joined: Apr 2006

  • Location:
  • Drives:
I didn't read any comments bagging six digits (heritage or non-heritage) or old general issue plates!  :D

I agree with some of the comments, though.  Most (but not all) personalised plates are tacky and severely lacking in class, IMHO.

Offline ferrarista2

  • Joined: Mar 2010

  • Drives: Slowly
  • Location: Sydney
anyone got a spare $8k for a great number plate investment??
SMUT69, Bargain :thumbsup:
and you have to pay nearly $450 a year to keep it! :doh:
Everything looks better in carbon fibre

Offline dodger

  • Tommy Gunna

  • Joined: Dec 2009

  • Location: Melbourne
It's the wankers, tossers and dickheads who have personalised plates that spoil it for everyone else.
I'm one of the everyone else by the way :D

Offline fivesix

  • Joined: Jun 2007

  • Location: TMBA / BNE / MEL
I am strongly opposed to people being judged, purely for having plates.
Yeah, some people look like fools, and are incredibly tacky, but seriously, labeling everyone just for buying them? I don't even own any, but it still pisses me off...

Calling someone a wanker for a simple plate, such as RX8, how can they be judged on their personality?

Some people need to be shot... Do us all a favor...

Offline dodger

  • Tommy Gunna

  • Joined: Dec 2009

  • Location: Melbourne
It's not just any plate people are judged by, someone near me has a plate SIC or SIKWRX or something like that then there's the 69 variants, I mean these people are fairly much identifiably by these plates, appologies to everyone here who has SIC or 69 in their plates. :eek:

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