PLating UP

2y ago


If you cherish your car or bike, truck, bus, whatever, then you'll want every aspect of it to be right, and that includes the registration plate (or license plate, as they're called elsewhere).

In the UK, the format of these is strictly enforced , fixed size (large), black text of a mandated font, white background on front, yellow background on the rear, spacing 'just so'. This is all mainly so they are legible by 'Automatic Number Plate Recognition' systems, which apparently can be easily befuddled merely by having a space in the wrong place... go figure.

Anyway, as prominent as they are, a bad reg' has real potential to spoil the look of your vehicle. The DVLA (the organisation that issues plates in the UK) tries to filter out rude combinations, but there are still plates issued that I wouldn't want on my car. There are some randomly assigned plates that suit a vehicle, and become part of its identity (ever referred to your car by its registration?), but they can also detract. In which case, you probably don't want to leave the registration on your car to chance, and many people take the opportunity to buy a 'personalised' plate of their choice. Now, when I say 'of their choice', they are restricted to choosing a plate that confirms to the defined formats the current format, or the previous format (known as the 'prefix' format), or the original format. As yet unassigned plates can be bought from the DVLA, or they can also be traded privately.

Attitudes to personal plates tend to be divided. Some see them as a vain adornment (particularly the ones with the owner's initials), a waste of money, or simply nonsense. Some people (people in this tribe!) enjoy spotting interesting plates, and indulging in geeky plate trivia, like the highest price paid for a UK plate at auction. In case you are wondering, that's £518,000 paid for '25 O', to go on a Ferrari 250 GTO. I wonder if they display it including the space?!

Another sub-culture of plate enthusiasts is those that take a standard plate, and amend using a 'strategically placed' coloured screw cap to make one letter look like another (an '8' made to look like an 'O' is a common example), or playing around with the spacing to make the intended reading more apparent. Personally, I frown heavily on corruption of the plate using screw heads, but don't mind a bit of spacing arrangement, and I don't see why the ANPR systems mentioned above shouldn't be able to cope with that.

Anyway, these are all potential topics for future posts. In the meantime, this tribe celebrates those plates that enhance a vehicle, either through chance or choice, even if it does so only to you personally. Post pics of your favourites, either from the UK or elsewhere!

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