To many, a license plate is merely a utilitarian piece of stamped metal bearing an identification number. However, for aficionados, these license plates represent a gateway to prestige and panache, and they’re willing to open their wallets for it. This compilation of the top 20 most expensive license plates in the world showcases some fetching prices, with several fetching multiple millions of dollars.
For certain collectors, it’s all about the sheer opulence of possessing the absolute best. If you’ve already amassed a splendid collection of classic cars or perhaps maintain a stable of top-tier high-performance vehicles, why not indulge in a distinctive license plate that matches your elite taste?
For others, an uncommon license plate serves as a declaration of social status. In places like the United Arab Emirates, particularly in cities such as Dubai and Abu Dhabi, a single-digit license plate can convey more about your social standing than an entire garage filled with expensive automobiles.
And, naturally, there’s the undeniable cool factor. What car enthusiast wouldn’t want to proudly proclaim ownership of the priciest license plate in New York or share that their license plate was once possessed by a renowned rock star?
While many automotive enthusiasts can readily recite a catalog of the world’s most expensive cars, this list offers you the opportunity to pull ahead and astonish your fellow car aficionados with your profound license plate expertise.
The most expensive license plates in the world
23. 66 – Abu Dhabi: $1.2 Million
In 2016, Abu Dhabi’s No 66 license plate was acquired at an auction for an astounding $1.2 million. As we delve into this list, you’ll notice that Abu Dhabi plates appear quite frequently. But what makes these plates particularly special to collectors in the Emirates?
The primary reason behind their desirability is closely linked to the fact that Abu Dhabi serves as the capital of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). While holding an esteemed license plate from any of the regions within the Emirates is undoubtedly a point of pride, owning one from the capital city, Abu Dhabi, adds an extra layer of significance and prestige to these plates. It’s akin to proudly displaying your connection to the very heart of the UAE, signifying a higher level of social standing and prestige among fellow collectors and enthusiasts.
22. 22 Abu Dhabi: $1.3 Million
In 2017, Abu Dhabi’s license plate No 22 was among several plates that fetched remarkable prices at an auction. This particular plate was sold for $1.3 million, and interestingly, it wasn’t the most expensive plate sold on that eventful day. The top-seller, which we’ll unveil shortly, will make an appearance later on our list.
21. 10 – Abu Dhabi: $1.3 Million
As anticipated, a No 10 license plate made its way onto our list. In this instance, it’s Abu Dhabi’s No 10, which was sold for $1.3 million through an online auction in 2017. The identity of the fortunate winner was not disclosed, but it’s worth noting that this plate attracted significant attention, with a total of 511 bids before the virtual gavel concluded the sale.
20. 99 – Abu Dhabi: $1.5 Million
Abu Dhabi plate No 99 was quite a catch, fetching $1.5 million in a June 2009 auction as part of a “5 series.” What’s fascinating is that this purchase granted the winner ownership of the other four numbers in the same series — 9, 999, 9999, and 99999.
These auctions in the UAE are evidently highly popular. According to the CEO of Emirates Auctions, their web portal can attract as many as 36,000 visitors from 52 different countries during an auction. It’s a testament to the allure of these exclusive license plates among collectors and enthusiasts.
19. 12 – Abu Dhabi: $1.6 Million
Abu Dhabi plate No 12 certainly commands attention, having been sold for $1.6 million in 2010. It’s remarkable how these plates can appreciate in value over time. Notably, it appeared on the auction block again in 2016, along with a couple of other plates that fetched even more astonishing sums. We’ll delve into those in the following entries on the list.
18. V – Hong Kong: $1.8 Million
The identity of the lucky individual who acquired Hong Kong’s license plate V during the Lunar New Year auction in February 2017 remains shrouded in mystery. However, one thing is certain: the winning bidder was a woman who made a substantial offer of $1.8 million for the plate. This hefty sum represented a staggering 2,600-fold increase over the plate’s initial reservation price of HK$5,000. Such auctions can indeed lead to unexpected and significant price surges.
17. 11 – Abu Dhabi: $1.8 Million
Abu Dhabi’s plate No 11 has had a remarkable history, fetching substantial sums twice in the past two decades. In its first sale, which took place in May 2007, it was acquired for a princely sum of $1.4 million. Then, it changed ownership once again on November 19, 2016, for an even higher price of $1.8 million.
The proud owner of plate No 11 is Emirati businessman Abu Mohammad. Interestingly, he also acquired plate No 7 in the same auction, which we’ll explore further below.
16. NSW 4 – New South Wales, Australia: $2 Million
The title of the most expensive license plate in Australia belongs to Chinese billionaire Peter Tseng, who also happens to be the world’s largest manufacturer of sex toys. In 2017, he acquired this special plate for a whopping $2 million.
It’s interesting to note that the number 4 is considered unlucky in Chinese culture due to its phonetic similarity to the word for “death” in both Mandarin and Cantonese. Despite this superstition, Tseng was willing to pay a significant sum for this unique license plate.
15. 18 – Hong Kong: $2 Million
The license plate with the number 18 held the prestigious top spot in Hong Kong for nearly a decade. It was acquired in 2008 for $2 million. The significance of this number lies in Chinese culture, where the number 18, pronounced as “shi ba,” is considered lucky because it sounds similar to the characters for “shi fa,” which can be translated as “will definitely become rich.” This cultural belief in the auspiciousness of certain numbers often drives the high prices of such license plates.
14. 28 – Hong Kong: $2.1 Million
A common trend among the most expensive license plates globally is the preference for low plate numbers, just like the highly coveted number 28. Sold in Hong Kong in 2016, this plate carries the added charm of sounding like the Cantonese phrase for “easy money.”
Hong Kong introduced a system for bidding on these sought-after license plate numbers back in 1973, with the proceeds typically being directed towards charitable causes. Interestingly, the owner of this fortunate number 28 remains unidentified, as they chose to place their bid through a proxy agent, adding an extra layer of mystery to this valuable acquisition.
13. 2 – Abu Dhabi: $2.7 million
The allure of single-digit license plates in the United Arab Emirates is so strong that when plate No. 2 made its debut at an auction in November 2017, it was treated like a rock star. The auction featured rock music, a dazzling light show, and even smoke effects to enhance the excitement.
Plate No. 2 carries an added layer of historical significance. The number 2 symbolizes the date of December 2, 1971, which marks the founding of the United Arab Emirates. In a spirited bidding war involving 20 eager participants, the winning bidder was a 23-year-old Emirati businessman named Ahmed Al Mazroui, who didn’t hesitate to spend $2.7 million to secure this prized piece of history.
12. 9 – Dubai: $2.8 Million
The single-digit license plate “9” from Dubai has had the distinction of being sold twice, each time for staggering amounts. The first sale occurred in 2008, fetching an impressive $2.8 million. A few years later, in 2010, the price dipped slightly, but it still commanded a hefty sum of $2.7 million.
Balwinder Sahni, a property developer and the proud owner of plate “9,” highlighted that one of the reasons for his extravagant purchase was the absence of income tax in Dubai. He saw this as an opportunity to contribute to charitable causes and invest in improving the city’s infrastructure.
11. 7 – Abu Dhabi: $3.9 Million
Abu Dhabi’s license plate “No 7” has achieved an impressive feat of being sold for extraordinary amounts on three separate occasions. The most significant sale of “No 7” occurred on February 2, 2010, fetching a whopping $3.9 million.
This well-traveled license plate holds prestige due to being a single-digit plate. Additionally, the number “7” holds bonus significance as it corresponds to the number of emirates in the United Arab Emirates. This additional layer of meaning has contributed to its desirability among collectors.
10. 5 – Abu Dhabi: $4.6 Million
In October 2016, Dubai property developer Balwinder Sahni made a substantial investment of $4.6 million at a government auction to acquire license plate “No 5.” Sahni expressed his hope that the funds from the auction would be directed toward improving the city’s infrastructure, particularly the roads.
Sahni’s desire for better road conditions was not just philanthropic but also practical, as he wanted to ensure the safety and preservation of his extensive car collection, including his eight Rolls-Royce cars. Plate “No 5” found a new home on one of his luxury vehicles, adding to the prestige of his collection.
9. 09 – Dubai: $5.7 Million
The license plate “09” was sold in Dubai on July 7th, 2015, for an impressive $5.7 million. While there isn’t much detailed information available about this specific plate, it’s worth noting that plates in the UAE can have different categories, allowing the same number to be issued more than once for different purposes or designations.
In this case, it’s generally understood that “09” is considered a distinct plate from “No 9,” which was mentioned earlier in the list. The nuances and distinctions among these plates might not be readily apparent, but they hold significant value and appeal to collectors in the region.
8. 1 – Abu Dhabi: $9.5 Million
Property mogul Saeed Abdul Ghaffar Khouri’s purchase of the license plate “No 1” for $9.5 million in 2008 reflected the unique car culture in Abu Dhabi, where your vehicle and its accessories are potent symbols of power and social standing. Khouri’s decision to acquire this prestigious plate, featuring the number “1,” was a bold statement that signified his confidence and immense prestige in this car-centric environment. Such plates are not merely functional; they are markers of status and an opportunity to make a distinctive statement about one’s place in society.
7. AA8 – Dubai: $9.5 Million
At the same auction where the AA9 license plate was sold, the AA8 number plate came very close to the $10 million mark, fetching $9.5 million. Just like AA9, the proceeds from this sale were generously donated to the One Billion Meals campaign by the Road and Transports Authority in Dubai. The proud owner of AA8 is Balvinder Sahni, a prominent property tycoon who is well-known for his collection of multimillion-dollar number plates. He acquired this particular plate to adorn one of his six Rolls-Royce cars. With his penchant for luxury and unique number plates, one can’t help but wonder what he might spend on the other five vehicles in his collection.
6. D5 – Dubai: $9.6 Million
Property developer Balwinder Sahni returned to the spotlight, securing the D5 license plate for one of his Rolls-Royces in October 2016, this time for a cool $9.6 million. The choice of D5 holds a clever numerological significance as well. D is the fourth letter in the English alphabet, and when combined with 5, it equals 9, the same number as the one in his previous license plate mentioned in this list. Sahni’s penchant for unique and meaningful number plates seems to know no bounds.
5. AA9 – Dubai: $10 Million
While the concept of expensive number plates might be puzzling to some, there’s certainly a noble side to it. The single-digit license plate AA9 was auctioned for a whopping $10 million in 2021, and this remarkable sale occurred at the Most Noble Numbers auction in Dubai. The proceeds from this high-priced plate were earmarked for a noble cause: the One Billion Meals Campaign. The buyer, in the spirit of humble philanthropy, chose to remain anonymous. So, if you happen to encounter AA9 on the streets of Dubai, you might want to think twice before honking your horn in frustration.
4. P7 – Dubai: $15 Million
Dubai continues to set records for expensive license plates, and in April 2023, an anonymous bidder made a charitable contribution by purchasing the Dubai license plate P7 for a staggering 55 million dirhams, equivalent to $15 million. This remarkable sale took place during a charity auction hosted by Emirates Auction LLC. The proceeds from this auction were dedicated to supporting Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid’s global food aid initiative, the 1 Billion Meals Endowment, showcasing the ability of high-priced license plates to make a positive impact.
3. New York – USA: $20 Million
This one is pretty self-explanatory. The most expensive license plate in New York has the designation of, you guessed it, “New York”.
The state of New York started issuing vanity plates in the late 1970s, and one unidentified family was lucky enough to get their hands on the only street-legal “New York” plate in existence.
If you think the $20 million dollar price tag is a little steep, remember that the family is throwing in the decades-old Volvo that is currently carrying the plates.
2. F1 – England: $20 Million
The plate “F1” is currently up for sale in the UK, with an asking price of $20 million. This plate is highly sought after by automotive enthusiasts and collectors due to its association with the popular Formula 1 racing events. The current owner of this prestigious plate is Afzal Kahn, an automotive designer and entrepreneur who has adorned his Bugatti Veyron with the F1 plate.
Afzal Kahn originally acquired the F1 plate in 2008 when he purchased it from the Essex County Council. Prior to Kahn’s ownership, the plate was held by a councilman who had it on his Volvo. The sale of the F1 plate for $619,771 saw the proceeds donated to charity, making it a notable and philanthropic acquisition. This sale price highlights the desirability and value placed on unique and iconic license plates in the world of car enthusiasts.
1. MM – USA: $24.3 Million
It’s not just the most expensive license plate in California. It’s not even just the most expensive license plate in the US. Valued at $24.3 Million, California plate MM takes the top spot for the most expensive license plate in the world.
Two-character plates are the hardest to find in the U.S., and plates using the same letter for both characters are rarer still. In fact, there are only 35 of them in existence. This particular plate is also dished up with an NFT, making it more valuable still.
If you’re treating yourself to a $24 Million license plate, you should probably make sure you have a cool ride worthy of its stature. Perhaps a luxury SUV would fit the bill, or maybe a top-tier electric car. Or if two-wheelin’ it is more your thing, you could always consider a bleeding-edge electric motorcycle.
Additional notable license plates
25 O – England: $730k – The most expensive number plate in the UK
The most expensive number plate in the UK, 25 O, has a fascinating history that adds to its allure among collectors and car enthusiasts. This unique license plate was sold for $730,000 in 2014 to John Collins, a well-known Ferrari enthusiast who also owns a Ferrari dealership.
What makes 25 O even more interesting is its current location – it’s affixed to a classic Ferrari 250 SWB. The Ferrari 250 SWB is already a highly sought-after classic car, known for its exquisite design and remarkable performance. However, the allure of 25 O doesn’t end there.
The classic Ferrari 250 SWB bearing this valuable number plate was previously owned by none other than rock legend Eric Clapton. This connection to a music icon adds an extra layer of history and prestige to both the car and the number plate.
The combination of an iconic classic car, a famous rock star’s ownership history, and the most expensive UK number plate makes 25 O a prized possession among collectors and enthusiasts. It’s a testament to the fascination and passion that people have for unique and significant automotive items and their storied histories.
Delaware 11 – USA: $675k – The most expensive number plate in the US
Plate No 11 from Delaware holds a special distinction in the world of American license plates. The acquisition of low-digit plates is considered prestigious in Delaware, with No. 1 reserved for the state’s governor, No. 2 for the lieutenant governor, and No. 3 for the secretary of state. This makes No. 11 quite a sought-after and valuable plate.
In 2008, No. 11 was acquired by the Fusco family, who are commercial real estate brokers, through an auction. They paid $675,000 for this coveted plate, making it the most expensive number plate in the United States that has actually been sold, rather than just listed for sale.
Delaware has a unique tradition when it comes to license plates. Their vehicle registration laws allow license plate numbers to be passed down as an inheritance. This means that, in essence, collectors are bidding on the specific number on the plate rather than the physical plate itself. This tradition adds a layer of significance to low-digit plates and makes Delaware a special place for American plate collectors.
The combination of this tradition, the prestige of low-digit plates, and the high price paid for No. 11 reflects the passion and value that license plate collectors place on these unique and often historic pieces of automobile history.
12THMAN – USA: $115k – The most expensive license plate in Texas
The most expensive license plate in Texas, which featured the Texas A&M (Texas Agricultural and Mechanical University) reference “12THMAN,” was sold for $115,000 at an online auction in September 2013. This plate’s significance is tied to Texas A&M University’s football tradition.
In American football, a team consists of 11 players on the field at a time. The term “12th man” refers to the audience, typically the fans in the stands, who support and cheer for the team. At Texas A&M, the concept of the “12th man” holds particular importance. The tradition of the 12th man dates back to the 1920s when a student named E. King Gill, who was not part of the team’s roster, was called from the stands to suit up for the team due to injuries. Gill’s willingness to step in and assist the team became emblematic of the spirit of the 12th man, representing the support and dedication of the fans.
Houston attorney Tony Buzbee acquired the “12THMAN” plate and subsequently gifted it to Dan Moran, a decorated war veteran, during a Texas A&M football game against the University of Alabama. This act symbolizes the close-knit community and camaraderie among Texas A&M fans, who take pride in being the “12th man” and supporting their team wholeheartedly.
How NFTs are changing the license plate game
The California MM license plate, which is the highest-valued license plate in the world, comes with a unique feature—a non-fungible token (NFT) laser-inscribed in a QR code on the back of the plate. NFTs are digital assets that represent ownership of a unique item, and they are becoming increasingly popular in various digital marketplaces, including on platforms like Instagram.
In essence, NFTs are “non-fungible,” meaning they are one-of-a-kind and cannot be replicated. While a piece of digital art or any digital content can be copied and shared, there will only ever be one NFT associated with that specific piece of art. For instance, if a series of NFTs is created for a particular artwork, each NFT will represent a unique version, such as #1, #2, and so on.
In the case of the California MM license plate, the NFT attached to it is a one-of-a-kind NFT. This means that if you choose to purchase the license plate for its hefty price of $24.3 million, you will not only be the proud owner of an extremely rare physical license plate but also the exclusive owner of the unique NFT associated with it. This adds an additional layer of exclusivity and value to the already highly sought-after license plate.
Summary: Serving it up on a plate
Indeed, license plates have a unique appeal when it comes to enhancing your vehicle. Unlike other car accessories, license plates offer an interesting conversation starter for car enthusiasts. While features like rims or leather seats are visually appealing, they may not have the same level of intrigue or history as a distinctive license plate.
A license plate with a notable history or a unique number can spark conversations among car lovers. It becomes a conversation piece that adds character and individuality to your vehicle. So, if you’re looking for a way to engage with fellow car enthusiasts and make your car stand out, consider acquiring a unique and memorable license plate. It’s a personalized touch that can truly set your vehicle apart.
Certainly, here’s a recap of the top 20 most expensive license plates featured in the provided information:
- California MM – $24.3 million – USA
- F1 – $20 million – UK
- New York – $20 Million – USA
- P7 – $15 Million – Dubai, UAE
- AA9 – $10 Million – Dubai, UAE
- D5 – $9.6 Million – Dubai, UAE
- AA8 – $9.5 Million – Dubai, UAE
- 1 – $9.5 million – Abu Dhabi, UAE
- 09 – $5.7 Million – Dubai, UAE
- 5 – $4.6 million – Abu Dhabi, UAE
- 7 – $3.9 million – Abu Dhabi, UAE
- 9 -$2.8 Million – Dubai, UAE
- 2 – $2.7 million – Abu Dhabi, UAE
- 28 – $2.1 million – Hong Kong
- 18 – $2 Million – Hong Kong
- NSW 4 – $2 Million – New South Wales, Australia
- 11 – $1.8 Million – Abu Dhabi, UAE
- V – $1.8 Million – Hong Kong
- 12 – $1.6 Million – Abu Dhabi, UAE
- 99 – $1.5 Million – Abu Dhabi, UAE
- 10 – $1.3 Million – Abu Dhabi, UAE
- 22 – $1.3 Million – Abu Dhabi, UAE
- 66 – $1.2 Million – Abu Dhabi, UAE
Frequently asked questions about expensive license plates
What is the most expensive license plate in the world?
The most expensive license plate in terms of listed value is California MM, which sold for $24.3 million and includes an NFT laser-inscribed on the plate’s back.
The highest price paid for a license plate that was actually sold is $15 million for plate P7 in Dubai. This purchase took place at an auction in April 2023, and the proceeds from the sale went to charity.
Who owns plate No 1?
Certainly! Plate No 1 was purchased at an auction in Abu Dhabi by property developer Saeed Abdul Ghaffar Khouri in 2008. For the full list of the most expensive license plates in the world, you can refer to the previous messages. If you have any more questions or need further information, feel free to ask!
What is the rarest license plate?
While it depends on one’s criteria for rarity, many number plate aficionados consider the UK 25 O plate the rarest plate in the world. It’s valued so highly because it matches up with the Ferrari-manufactured 250 GTO. It’s currently fixed to a Ferrari 250 GTO that was once owned by rockstar Eric Clapton.
Why are F1 number plates so expensive?
The F1 plate gains its value from being an acronym for the popular Formula 1 racing events. This makes it one of a kind in the UK. The UK government specified that for this particular plate, no other letters or digits could be added to the designation.