BAR 8IE registration plate

Barbie-themed personalised number plate goes up for sale with a £1m price tag

Hi, BAR8IE! Did you buy a new reg plate for your dream car?

The star and director of the Barbie film — Margot Robbie and Greta Gerwig, respectively — may have been snubbed for Oscar nominations for Best Actress and Best Director, but Barbie the movie is up for a number of other key awards at the upcoming Academy Awards ceremony (Sunday, March 10) including Best Picture and, in an irony so perfect you couldn’t make it up, Best Supporting Actor for Ryan Gosling, who plays Ken.

While Robbie and Gerwig might well feel miffed at missing out on nominations, they could — assuming either keeps a car in the UK — treat themselves to a special number plate which may ease the pain a little. Just listed for sale at Absolute Reg is the unmistakable registration of “BAR 8IE”. Don’t go getting out the pink vinyl wrap for your car just yet, though as this number plate comes with a telephone number price — £1,048,205.

Perfect on a pink Corvette

“This number plate is perfect for fans of the Barbie movie, and it would look fantastic on a pink Corvette,” said Jake Smith from Absolute Reg. “It will appeal to Barbies and Kens alike, but buyers will need to dig deep for the privilege of owning this exclusive number plate.”

Deep indeed, but even at that price tag this will be far from one of the most expensive number plates ever sold. A plate with simply “R” on it sold last year in Hong Kong for 25.5 million Hong Kong dollars, the equivalent of £2.7 million. It’s not just the exclusivity factor either, as the letter R is considered to have lucky connotations in Chinese fortune telling, as well as having connections to the sports car and motor racing scenes.

Vanity plates are a huge business. In the UK, the Driver and Vehicle Licence Agency (DVLA) which issues those numbers — in theory at random — has been in the game for many years, holding back letter and number combos which can prove lucrative and selling them by auction.

Most valuable of all?

The most valuable of all seems to have been “F1”, which had an asking price of £10,000,000 back in 2008, but even more innocuous combos can go for high sums. What about “S1”, which sold for £1,000,000 also in 2008? “X1” garnered the same amount in 2012, while out in Dubai, plain old “1” was sold last year for a colossal $17,000,000 US dollars (£13.4 million today).

If you’re looking for a movie-related number plate, there is a potentially more affordable ones out there. James Bond film Goldfinger featured Sean Connery, Gert Frobe and Honour Blackman but starred an Aston Martin with an ejector seat and a plan to irradiate Fort Knox. It remains the urtext of James Bond films.

For our purposes, there’s a more significant standout — the car’s registration. Given Goldfinger’s wealth, it’s little surprise that he plumped for a personalised numberplate, and his choice was “AU1”. Au is, as any GCSE chemistry student knows, the atomic symbol for gold.

Goldfinger isn’t real, of course. His Rolls-Royce wasn’t really solid gold, and Sean Connery preferred playing golf to saving Kentucky from nuclear annihilation, but one thing from the film is real, and you can own it — the numberplate, “AU1”.

For a more restrained £300,000 if the price expectations are met. Primo Registrations is selling the plate, one of several companies that hoovers up interesting registration numbers to auction them on.

Peter Johnson, Primo’s MD, emphasised the plate’s significance: “This number plate ranks among the best of iconic plates, primarily due to its association with the infamous car used by Goldfinger and Oddjob to smuggle gold out of the country.

“Interestingly, this isn’t the first time AU1 has changed hands. Previously, its sale yielded a substantial return on investment for its owner, and experts anticipate this trend will continue, especially considering the increasing value of shorter plates in the market.”

Being naughty with plates

Obviously, you’ll need a bullion-bodied Roller, a mute Korean henchperson and plans for world domination if you’re really going to justify the outlay for “AU1”. What if you wanted to make another statement, though? A — heaven forfend — naughty one?

It doesn’t take a linguist to work out that certain letter and number combos can be — occasionally with the well-aimed placement of a screwhead, or a little bit of artistic spacing — made to look like naughty words or phrases. The DVLA carefully screens these, to try and stop them being issued (hence why “AR5E” isn’t a real numberplate) but some do slip through.


“FU2” is a real plate, for example. Originally attached to a yellow Jaguar E-Type owned by Fiona Richmond — girlfriend of Paul Raymond, the well-known nightclub owner — “FU2” has since found its way to Billy and Hanna Smart (of Big Top Circus fame). They subsequently sold the plate, via auctioneers Registration Transfers.

They also had another potentially naughty plate — “BS1”. Despite what it looks like, this one was created for a fictitious character. This time it was Brett Sinclair, the debonair crime solver played by Roger Moore in 1970s TV series The Persuaders, and attached to his mustard-coloured Aston Martin.

Mustard or gold, Aston or Rolls, Bond, Barbie or beyond. It’s all ephemera and silliness, but there is something serious underlying it all — cash. According to Registration Transfer’s marketing manager, Len Stout: “The competitive environment of a car registrations auction seems to be especially good at delivering spectacular sale prices. Sums paid have been amazing enough, with outstanding examples achieving prices in excess of half a million pounds, but in some parts of the world a single registration may sell for millions of pounds.

“Spending a few hundred pounds on a personalised number plate is something most people are quite comfortable with; the increasing number of private registrations sold each year demonstrates the fact.”

Barbie proved a billion-dollar success at the box office. Can “BAR 8IE” turn a million for itself?

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