P7 number plate sells for world record £12m in Dubai

Number plate sells for £12 million in Dubai auction

Polestar would have liked that one

Personal number plates are an easy way to make a car stand out, but they don’t come cheap, especially if you want one with as few letters or digits as possible. That proved to be the case at a recent Dubai auction, where the plate ‘P7’ sold for an astonishing 55 million dirhams, or £12 million.

The staggering sum was paid at the Most Noble Numbers auction held at the Four Seasons hotel in Dubai as part of the Muslim celebration of Ramadan. The auction raised a total of £22m for charity, with the P7 plate being the highlight of the sale. It hasn’t been revealed who the mystery buyer was, but the number seven is considered lucky by the Chinese, and an expat millionaire could be behind the winning bid.

It wouldn’t be the first time that a foreign national has paid a significant sum in another country for a registration plate. Businessman Xian Jun Xu is said to have bought a Rolls-Royce that was registered in the United Arab Emirates just so he could have its ‘XI’ plate.

A personalised number plate is a sign of status for people around the world, with big money paid for some very exclusive registrations. The most expensive of all was purchased in Abu Dhabi, where the number ‘1’ went for around £100m.

Hong Kong also has its fair share of desirable plates and willing buyers to snap them up. The single-letter ‘W’ plate (which is the equivalent of the Chinese word Shan, meaning mountain) sold for £2.74m in 2021. This was closely matched by the letter ‘R’ (considered lucky in Chinese fortune telling), which was sold for £2.7m at a Lunar New Year auction earlier in 2023.

Elsewhere around the globe, the 50 US states issue their own registrations, and it’s easy to buy your own personalised plate there. However, they’re not always transferrable from different vehicles — it depends on the state in which you live. The most expensive registration plate purchased in the States was the number ‘6’, which was sold in Delaware for around half a million pounds.

One state that allows transfers is California, although one person is trying to game the system by offering the plate ‘MM’ for £20.4m. There are caveats relating to the online world of cryptocurrencies and NFTs, too, which is probably why it hasn’t been sold.

On the east coast, another opportunistic seller has the plate NEW YORK available. However, since New York State doesn’t currently allow registration transfers, you’ll be stuck with the plate on a mid-nineties Volvo estate car, which doesn’t sound like much of a bargain at £16.6m.

Here in the UK, private plates haven’t reached the astronomical prices seen elsewhere,  but it has turned into a lucrative revenue stream for the DVLA. The record for the most expensive registration plate was for ’25 O’, which was bought by the owner of Ferrari specialist dealer Talacrest for £518,480 to put on his 250 GT SWB. Also owned by the same person are the plates ‘250 L’ and ‘500 FER’, although these were bought for a lot less.

’25 O’ isn’t the only six-figure plate to be sold in the UK, with the likes of ‘X1’ and ‘G1’ going for similar amounts, while the Rolls-Royce friendly ‘RR 1’ sold for £472,000 in 2018. Another big seller was ‘F1’, which sold for £440,625 in 2008. While it seems perfect for a Formula One fan, or one of the lucky few that owns a McLaren F1, the entrepreneur that bought it has turned down offers of at least £6m for the plate since.

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