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Driving Extravagance: The World’s Most Expensive License Plates

July 22, 2023
2 mins read
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Key Takeaways:

  • Saeed Abdul Ghaffar Khouri holds the record for the most expensive license plate in the world, a single digit ‘1’, purchased for a staggering £7.2 million.
  • Wealthy individuals such as Afzal Kahn and Balwinder Sahni have also invested millions in unique license plates.
  • This trend highlights an additional layer of wealth display among the ultra-rich, extending beyond just luxury cars to the license plates themselves.
  • Cultural, personal significance, and rarity also contribute to the high price of certain number plates.

The Ultimate Status Symbol: Abdul Ghaffar Khouri’s £7.2m ‘1’

When it comes to luxury, a select few individuals choose to express their wealth in unconventional ways. One of these ways is through purchasing astronomically priced license plates. In 2008, Saeed Abdul Ghaffar Khouri, CEO of Abdul Khaleq Al Khouri & Bros Co and CEO of Milipol International Est, set a record by buying the world’s most expensive license plate for £7.2 million. This unique number plate, featuring a single digit ‘1’, was sold at an auction organized by the Emirates Auction Company.

Exclusivity on Wheels: Afzal Kahn’s £7m ‘F1’ and Balwinder Sahni’s £6m ‘D5’

The trend extends beyond the Middle East, reaching even the United Kingdom. British automotive designer Afzal Kahn, known as “the king of car customisation”, purchased an ‘F1’ license plate in 2008 for £440,000. Despite receiving an offer of £20 million for the plate, Kahn remains attached to his unique status symbol.

Similarly, Indian businessman Balwinder Sahni splashed out £6.6 million for a ‘D5’ license plate in 2016. Sahni’s choice of the number plate reflects his belief in lucky numbers – ‘D’ being the fourth letter in the alphabet, and adding it to the 5 totals to 9, his lucky number.

Luxury License Plates Across the Globe

The allure of rare number plates isn’t confined to any one region. In Hong Kong, the lucky number ’28’ was sold for a tidy sum of £1.6 million, thanks to its phonetic similarity to the phrase “easy money” in Cantonese. Down Under, Australian businessman Peter Bartels owns Victoria’s most valuable number plate, a simple ‘1’, estimated to be worth £1.7 million. Even in South Australia, numbers ‘1’ and ‘2’ fetched a handsome sum for their limited-edition Grand Prix commemoration.

Billionaires and Their Love for Unique Plates

Peter Tseng, a Chinese-Australian billionaire and adult toy manufacturer, pushed the boundaries of luxury by purchasing the ‘NSW 4’ number plate for £1.3 million. Similarly, John Collins, a classic car dealer, bought the ‘25 O’ plate for over half a million in 2014, seeing it as the perfect match for his collection of Ferrari 250 series of sports cars.

A Passion for Personalization: Nabil Bishara’s £350,000 ‘1 D’ and the Goodwood Festival of Speed ‘M 1’

Lebanese tycoon Nabil Bishara took personalization to another level by purchasing the ‘1 D’ number plate as a birthday present for his wife in 2009, planning to showcase it on her Bentley. Meanwhile, the ‘M 1’ plate, the first issued in Cheshire and first purchased in 1903, was sold for £300,000 at the 2006 Goodwood Festival of Speed.

Closing Thoughts: The Meaning Behind the Money

The trend of acquiring pricey license plates among the super-rich reveals an added dimension of opulence, beyond just owning luxury cars. It’s not merely about possession – it’s also about personal significance, cultural symbolism, rarity, and a heightened sense of exclusivity. This fascination with license plates has created a thriving market, as more high-net-worth individuals continue to seek these rare badges of distinction for their luxury vehicles. The value is in the eye of the beholder, and for some, it’s worth millions.

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