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Posted by ukshowplateress
April 30th, 2021 at 1:00 pm


Everywhere you look on the road these days you see private number plates on cars, vans and even on motorcycles, but where does the inspiration come from for these creative expressions of individuality? Private registration numbers can mean different things to different people, but if you can’t have exactly what you want because it’s not available, it’s too expensive or it’s not allowed by the DVLA, where can ideas come from for a plate that might be right for you?

The obvious

The most obvious inspiration for a private plate has to come from names or initials, and this is where you can finally thank your progressive parents for naming you OIG 3472 and not Jon or Jim! Seriously though, most people assume a private plate will relate to someone’s name or initials when they see it if they don’t know the owner of the vehicle but sometimes you have to be a little more creative.

If you are called Bob, Jim, Jon, Jen, Ann or some other common name made up of three letters you’re going to have to dig deep for those numbers if you want them with one, two or even three numbers accompanying them. After all, even if a number has never been issued it still has to conform to one of the numbering systems the UK has operated over the years.

You may be one of those people who has always been glad your parents didn’t give you a middle name since you found out that work colleague or old school friend had Humphry, Tarquin or Griselda as their middle name, but you won’t be as smug when you try to get a private plate with your two initials on it.

If you want a plate with your two initials and any number before or after them you’re going to be into some serious money, but you’ll be laughing out loud with joy at having Horatio as your middle name if your other two names are John Green. Of course, it doesn’t have to be your name and it could be the name of your significant other, a child or even a beloved pet.

The Not-So-Obvious

This next category of inspiration is for the not-so-obvious things you could have on your private plate, and one of the big ones that fall into this realm is a nickname. Once again though, some nicknames will be a lot easier and cheaper to recreate on a number plate than others. If you’re a Robert, Jonathan, James or Jennifer and you want Rob, Jon, Jim or Jen on a private plate you’re going to have plenty of competition for the best numbers.

Combine any of them or similar three-letter nicknames with one, two or even three numbers and you’re going to have to fork out some serious dosh to get your dream private registration plate. However, if you’re not too fussy you can go with something more modern like AB53 followed by your three-letter nick-name.

If having your name or your initials on your plate is a little too passé for you, how about something that relates to a favourite brand, band or person? An old favourite is to have the name or brand of your car or motorbike on your plate, but your bank balance will remain a lot healthier if you have a KTM rather than a BMW.

For those who want to go a little more obscure, there are all sorts of other things or people you could reference with a private plate. If you’re into classic rock music you could opt for the likes of ELO or ELP, and if throw-away 1980s pop music is more your thing then how about OMD? If Texas boogie, long beards and cheap sunglasses are what floats your boat you can’t have ZZ TOP as Z isn’t used on UK number plates, but you could theoretically have 22 TOP, although a quick check shows that number isn’t available and it’s not currently registered to any vehicle.

If you’re a fan of incredible guitarists there are plenty of private plates available with SRV (Stevie Ray Vaughan) or EVH (Edward Van Halen), and 1980s rock fans are well catered for with plenty of MSG (Micheal Schenker Group) and UFO number possibilities. U2 and UB40 are another couple you might think are obvious candidates in a similar vein, but they’re not available.

The Obscure

If none of the above appeals then you might want to go a little more obscure by trying to spell out something using numbers that look like letters to create something from the registration number systems we’ve had in the UK over the years. We already mentioned that a 2 could be used in place of a Z but there are plenty more options, although some of them are a bit of a stretch and you’ve probably seen plenty of pretty poor attempts on cars already.

The best numbers to be used to replace a missing letter are 0 for O, 1 for I, 5 for S, 2 for Z and 8 for B. The next best that could be seen as a bit of a stretch are a 6 for a G or 4 for an A, but when people start to get desperate we then get them trying things like using a 7 for a Y or 12 for the letter R.

Some combinations of two letters can work quite well, such as using 13 as a B. Unfortunately, some people in the past have not been content with leaving it there and they have plates made with “creative” spacing and fonts to try and emphasize what they’re trying to spell out. For example, 13 looks a lot more like a B if you leave almost no space between the one and the three, and a little tinkering with the font and a 5 can be smoothed out to look more like an S than it does already.

None of that is legal and it will get you into trouble with the law if you don’t have a registration plate that conforms to DVLA standards, and that’s if you even get anyone to make a plate up for you that doesn’t conform to those standards.

Regardless of how obscure or obvious the private plate is doesn’t matter as long as it means something to you, and you might be surprised when you start looking at just what’s available and how affordable some of them can be.