How to Check if a Number Plate Is on Retention

The private number plate market is known for having plates that can cost millions of pounds. But why exactly is this? And if some are currently valued in the millions, which private plates have sold for the most amount of money in the UK?

In this blog, we will share the 10 most expensive private number plates ever sold in the UK, and a little insight into why they are so expensive. In addition to other critical questions that can help you when it comes to all things number plate related.

Bespoke Plates is a renowned and legally certified registration platemaker and installer, with options of 3D Plates, 4D Plates, Show Plates, regular / Electric Vehicle Plates and more. We are the one-stop shop for all things registration plates!

Whether it’s a Private Plate, Gel Plate, Standard Registration Plate or plating accessories, we have you covered.

As a certified and experienced team of plate fitters and makers, our plates are installed to the specification of UK law, provided alongside the appropriate paperwork you require. (The only exception to this is show plates.)

Why are private plates allowed but show plates are not?

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There is a fine distinction between the two. Private plates are a legally sanctioned number plate that will be on the relevant systems that ensure it is attributed to a vehicle legally. (If the owner decides).

Show plates come as a result of plate customisation that falls outside the established legalities set out by the UK government regarding number plates. Essentially, due to certain customisations, it would prevent the number plate from being read properly by ANPR systems, whilst having the potential to be a distraction to other road users.

This means whether you own a private or standard number plate, as long as it is customised within the legal stipulations, you can use it. Anything beyond this will make it a show plate, which is not allowed to be used on a vehicle, it is strictly for decoration purposes.

What are the laws regarding number plates?

The legal terms that a registration plate must adhere to are:

  • be made from a reflective material – for road safety
  • black display characters on a white background (front plate)
  • black display characters on a yellow background (rear plate)
  • not have a background pattern – so as not to distort the readability of your plate

You can find the full list of legal requirements here. 

The 10 most expensive private number plates ever sold in the UK

The 10 most expensive private number plates ever sold in the UK

Please note that current asking prices may fluctuate from the time of writing.

  1. 25 O

Price paid: £518,480   Date sold: November 2014   Current asking price: £750,000

  1. X 1

Price paid: £502,500   Date sold: November 2012   Current asking price: £1 million

  1. G 1

Price paid: £500,000   Date sold: September 2011   Current asking price: £1 million

  1. RR 1

Price paid: £472,000   Date sold: September 2018   Current asking price: £500,000

5. F 1

Price paid: £440,625   Date sold: January 2008   Current asking price: £10 million

  1. S 1

Price paid: £404,063   Date sold: September 2008   Current asking price: £1 million

  1. 1 D

Price paid: £352,411    Date sold: March 2009   Current asking price: £500,000

  1. 1 S

Price paid: £340,000   Date sold: March 2010   Current asking price: £600,000

  1. M 1

Price paid: £331,500   Date sold: June 2006   Current asking price: £1 million

  1. GB 1

Price paid: £325,000   Date sold: Nov 2009   Current asking price: £500,000

What makes a private plate so expensive?

Private plates are expensive for a variety of reasons, below are the common factors that contribute to an expensive private plate…

The history

Some plates, such as the 2nd most expensive on this list, the X1 plate, has been in circulation for over 100 years. It is a literal piece of automotive history, hence why many car enthusiasts are keeping an eye on the plate, or making enquires about it.


Certain plates that have a significant meaning, such as ‘F1’ or ‘GB1’ will generally be more popular, and due to that large demand, it can directly influence the final price of the plate once it is sold.


Once you own a private plate, nobody else can have the same one unless you sell it, or it is relinquished. Every useable number plate is one of a kind, but the difference is, with private plates is their unique characters. They can be used to advertise a business, for personal use, or in order to sell it at a later time.

How do I customise my plate?

How do I customise my plate?

Whether it is a private plate or standard plate, getting your own bespoke custom number plate is relatively simple. In most cases, you can even do it from the comfort of your own home! If you opt to use Bespoke Plates, you can order a custom number plate directly from our website.

Let us walk you through the process of choosing your plate through us.

  1. Head to the Bespoke Plates website
  2. Select the plate style you want under the “Build Your Plate” tab. Alternatively, you can follow this link.
  3. Enter your registration (You can press ‘preview’ to see your registration with all the modification options you have selected.)
  4. When selecting your chosen plate, you can opt for 3D/4D options, a Hex plate, and whether you want a legal plate or a show plate.
  5. Select preferred optional accessories.
  6. Decide if you are collecting with installation, or if you want it to be delivered.
  7. Confirm your order!

If your plate is not a show plate,  we would require relevant documentation to ascertain that you have the authority or the permission to upgrade and replace your old number plate. This is regardless of if it is a private plate, or a regular number plate.

Installing through Bespoke Plates ensures the best service & secure installation for your number plate, along with guidance for any questions you may have.

What are my customisation options?

Depending on the manufacturer you opt to use, the price of a custom number plate will likely vary between providers and the options they offer. Bespoke Plates custom plates range from just over £30, to £90 depending on what you decide to have on the custom plate. Here is the price list of options we offer.

  • 3D number plates – From £40.00
  • 4D number plate – From £50.00
  • Hex Plate – £15.00
  • Show plate
  • Plate tinting — From £4.99 to £15.00
  • Plate size options – £6.00
  • Borders – £4.99
  • Side badges – £12.00

As long as legal specifications are not compromised, you can have more than one customisation option on your plate. However, rest assured, we are here to tell you what is legal and what isn’t. Please get in touch with us if you have any concerns with a plate you want to order.

Browse private plates today

In this blog, we have highlighted our plate options and the information you need to obtain our stylish customisation options for your vehicle. We aim to have provided food for thought regarding the 10 most expensive private number plates sold in the UK.

We hope that we have provided all the right answers and options for all of your plate modification needs.

Bespoke Plates has all the options you can ask for, as an approved registration vendor we can guarantee your modification abides by the DVLA rules whilst offering same-day collections and full fitting service.

To get in touch and discuss the full fitting service we offer with our plates, you can talk to one of the members of our team by:


Phone 0333 006 7878

Visit in-store

36A Broughton Street,


M8 8NN

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