Rate my Plate

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16 November 2023
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Tom was hoping for something affordable... : credit: © LRM
LRM market guru, Tom Barnard, hovers over his mouse, hoping for bargain...

Among many car auctions’ mailing lists my email has somehow found its way onto the database for the DVLA’s monthly Personalised Registration sales. When the latest sale catalogue pops into my inbox I can’t resist a peek to see if there is anything Land Rover-related.

I’m not interested in a number which will look a little bit like my name if I squish the letters together and add a few strategically-placed screwheads, but I do have a nod of respect for registrations which match the car or demonstrate a sense of humour.

I also love to spot a battered Discovery or Defender at a county fair with a horse trailer attached wearing a number plate which has clearly been passed down through the generations. Google these registrations and you’ll usually reveal that the current owner is the granddaughter of the 17th Baron of Buchester who was issued the number on his Hispano-Suiza during the summer of 1905.

I’m not set to inherit a title or a registration, so I kept my eye on a couple of numbers in the last auction with my cursor poised over the bid button in case they looked like bargains.

It seems I wasn’t the only Land Rover fan in the virtual auction hall that day as 90 CV whipped straight past my upper limit within seconds and went for £6300. I hope the buyer had factored in the fees, as they are astonishingly high – you need to add VAT to the hammer price, a buyer’s fee, more VAT and finally an £80 fee for assigning the registration. The total was £8169…

Of more interest to me was 25 CS, as I own a 2.5-litre County Station Wagon. My missus said this was a very tenuous link, but I liked it and thought it would make a nice addition to my Ninety.

I knew it would be more affordable than 90 CV too, as according to the number plate trader forums (there is a forum or Facebook group for everything these days) the extra letter narrows down the market and can halve the price. The 25 number is also too low for it to be the year of birth for anyone who is likely to still be driving.

As predicted it was cheaper, although it still went past my limit and ended at £3700 – or £4831 with the fees. I really hope I spot it on another 2.5 CSW at a show rather than a van belonging to Chiltern Select Windows or a Crispin Smyth-Wythenshaw’s BMW.

Before 110 owners feel too smug, there is bad news for you. Apparently, the pair of ones can be made to look like an ‘H’ or ‘N’ with the naughty addition of a well-placed screw head, so you’ll be competing with anyone who wants to spell a word beginning with ‘HO’ or ‘NO’.

But there is some glimmer of hope for Land Rover geeks with shallow pockets. Codenames such as P38 and L322 mean nothing to 99 per cent of the population and so registrations featuring them will be cheap as chips. You can even request that a certain number be entered into future auctions by filling in a form on the DVLA site. If the number has never been issued, it will find its way onto a future lot list.

You’re able to look ahead to the next two months’ sale catalogues and a quick glance shows there are a steady stream of 90 and 110 numbers due to come under the hammer. If that’s not your bag then there’s usually a 130 or 101, or Land Rover-relevant letters such as SVR and CSK.

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If you do take the plunge and find the right number, there are a few things to bear in mind though. While transferring the number is remarkably easy, it will cost you £80 to remove it again and your insurance company may charge an admin fee, too. So make sure you are planning on keeping the registration on the car for long enough to make it worthwhile.

It’s also scandalously tricky to safely buy or sell a registration which has already been issued without going through a trusted dealer. Once the number has been signed over to someone else it is almost impossible to get it back, so to avoid a possible scam you’ll either need to have the buyer physically with you handing over the cash while you sign the form, or entrust the transaction to a middleman.

This might make it all seem like a lot of hassle, but as Land Rovers are so collectible and have an enthusiast following, there will almost certainly be a ready market for relevant registrations. It’s a more interesting investment than the Premium Bonds, too.

All I need now is for Land Rover to create a trendy new model catchily called the B168SFH and I’ll have thousands handed to me on a plate…

 

Read more of Tom's market news and tips in our buying guide section.

 

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