Once upon a time, number plates were unvarying, standardised, and dull, simply there to provide the required legal details for your car.

These days, however, private number plates are big business, with the industry currently worth approximately £2 billion and growing numbers of people choosing to hop on the customised plate bandwagon.

As well as your friends and neighbours – and perhaps even you yourself – among those eager to customise their cars with a personalised plate are some famous faces, some of whom arguably contributed to the current trend. Let’s find out who they are!

Sporting Sensations

Sporting stars are some of our most iconic celebrities, inspiring fondness and devotion even years after they have retired from their chosen sport. As a result, it’s not surprising that they should feature frequently among the influencers inspiring us to search for personal number plates ourselves.

One of the most high-profile sports stars to invest in a private plate is none other than footballing legend David Beckham. The goal-scoring icon chose to have his initials and his lucky number 7 on the plates of one of the vehicles in his collection.

Turning our attention to the world of boxing, we will find that Amir Khan is a particular devotee of private plates, having purchased several over the years. Among his customised registrations are plates reading ‘BOX 11G’,  ‘R6 KKO’, and A180 XER’. While some celebrities may choose to be cryptic with their plates, Khan clearly likes to leave viewers in no doubt as to his sporting passions.

Another boxing superstar, Tyson Fury, is also famously in possession of a personalised number plate, affixed to his gleaming black Rolls Royce. The plate, which reads ‘1 TLF’, must have cost Fury a mint, as customised plates that have ‘1’ at the front are incredibly valuable and can sell for hundreds of thousands of pounds.

Even Olympians are not immune to the glamour of a personal number plate. None other than Sir Steve Redgrave, who rowed into the history books by winning gold at five Olympic Games in a row, has adorned his car with the plate ‘ROW 601D’. In doing so, he acknowledges the sport which brought him such acclaim – as well as those shining medals.

You Can’t Be A Mogul Without A Personalised Motor

As well as sporting legends and famous actors and performers, prominent businessmen have also channelled some of their riches into fitting their expensive cars with private plates.

Not just one but two Dragons have added a personal touch to their vehicles. Duncan Bannatyne was gifted his first custom registration by his wife over 20 years ago; it read simply ’23 D’. Since then, he has become a devotee of private plates and has even used them to add to his substantial bank balance by purchasing and selling sought-after plates to eager buyers. Currently, he is rumoured to have around 20 private plates of his own; even the repairs van from his gymnasium has a personalised plate.

Fellow Dragon James Caan similarly has several personal registrations to his name and has also gifted named plates to his wife and daughter Jemma. Caan’s Maybach features the plates ‘C4 NNS’ while his Rolls Royce Phantom bears the registration ’28 JC’. Unlike Bannatyne, however, Caan’s interest in personal plates doesn’t extend to their business potential. Instead, he seems to prefer to keep his fondness for them limited to pure enjoyment rather than tapping into the lucrative market.

Of course, you can’t talk about famous businessmen without mentioning Sir Alan Sugar. It will perhaps come as no surprise that Lord Sugar has invested in his own private plate, with his car – another Phantom – featuring a plate with his initials, AMS, followed by the number 1.

Famous Faces Behind The Boom In Private Plates - plates, car

Celebs With Creative Plates

For those of us considering investing in a personalised registration of our own, it can help to gain some inspiration from the high-profile influencers who have customised their own motors. While the likes of Caan and Lord Sugar are happy for their vehicles to bear their own initials, other famous faces have been a little more creative when it comes to choosing their registrations.

Hairdresser to the stars, Nicky Clarke, opted for the cleverly selected sequence ‘H41 DO’, paying tribute to his profession; similarly, Russell Watson, the acclaimed English tenor from Salford, also highlighted his career choice with the legend ‘T3 NOR’.

The Priciest Plates Ever Sold

It may seem staggering that a simple combination of numbers and letters can command price tags reaching into the thousands – if not hundreds of thousands – of pounds. However, the fact is that some personal plates are highly sought after and can fetch a particularly hefty price.

The most expensive plate to be sold to date in the UK was the famous ‘25 O’ plate that commanded a whopping £518, 480 back in 2014. The appeal behind this plate was linked to the model of car it celebrates: the Ferrari 250 GTO. Unsurprisingly, the man who purchased the plate was the owner of one of these limited edition vehicles.

When it comes to personal plates, the shorter the combination of letters and numbers, the higher the value of the plate will be, with the 20 most expensive plates costing more than a semi-detached family home. As a result, if you happen to have a few thousand pounds in your bank balance, private plates could prove to be an enticing investment opportunity.

Picking Out Your Own Personal Number Plates

If you are keen to follow in the footsteps of these influential figures and upgrade your vehicle with a gleaming private plate, there are a few ways to go about it.

First and foremost, try the DVLA. Not only do they have millions of different registration combinations to search through, but they also hold number plate auctions on a regular basis where you could be able to pick up a quirky combination.

Costing £250 and above, personal number plates acquired from the DVLA will also be cheaper than plates bought from private sellers, who have the prerogative to ask for thousands of pounds. Private sellers are also fewer and further between, offering a great deal less choice than the DVLA.

Alternatively, you can opt to search for the perfect number plates at an independent seller specialising in buying and selling custom registrations like Regtransfers Choosing an experienced company with plenty of years in the industry may be the best way to go if you’re also looking for a range of options, as well as advice and support on your number plate buying journey.

Stand Out From The Crowd

While influential celebrities may splash out hundreds of thousands on an iconic registration number, there are plenty of affordable private plates available for those of us who don’t have such deep pockets. All you need to do is decide what type of plate you would like and start from there. Perhaps you’re leaning toward a cheeky number plate (but not too cheeky!)? Perhaps a plate that pays tribute to your favourite football team? Or maybe you’d like a plate with your own initials on it?

The choices are seemingly endless, and there are several benefits to indulging in private plates. For one thing, they will make your car easier to spot in a crowded carpark. For another thing, they could be a potential investment opportunity, if your plates feature a sought-after combination.

Last but certainly not least, private plates give you the chance to demonstrate your unique personality to the world, making you feel a glow of pride every time you get in your car.