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6 REASONS
You should spend money on a bidded number plate


We explore six reasons why people spend money obtaining bidded number plates, and ponder if we should get one ourselves.


Text | Desmond Chan
Photos | Low Fai Ming
To some people, car number plates are simply just a set of letters and numbers that help identify a car, and also a necessary administrative requirement by the government.

However, for others, their car's number plate holds significant value to them. Thus, these people will spend money to bid on 'special' plates for their personal rides. To put it in some perspective, the most expensive number plate sold in Singapore was 'S 32 H', auctioned off in 2016 for $335,000.

However, not every special number plate costs the price of a new car or a small HDB flat. Depending on how special or rare the plate is, prices can range anywhere for a couple of hundred dollars up to six figure sums.

Here, we explore six reasons why you should spend money on a bidded number plate.
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1. Auspicious numbers

Perhaps the most common reason for bidded numbers plates is auspicious numbers. The number eight is especially regarded as a lucky number, as in mandarin, 'ba' sound like 'fa', which means prosperity of wealth. The number 8 is therefore closely associated with wealth luck, so it's no surprise that plates like 8888 or 118 hold special value for some car owners.

Combinations of numbers, like doubles and triples, are often also associated with lucky. It's no surprise that rare number plates with 88 or 99 tend to cost more.

Also, certain number combinations have special meanings or value - for example, in cantonese, the numbers 168 translate to 'yak lok fatt', which means the 'road of prosperity' or 'to be prosperous together'. The Chinese consider this one of the luckiest set of numbers. For the more superstitious among us, you may also want to get a number plate that matches your 'ba zi'.
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2. Keeping it in the family

Some people may have had the same number plate since many years ago, and want to retain it for sentimental value. After all, many Singapore families probably go through multiple generations of cars (what with the 10 year COE-mandated lifespan of cars), and it's nice to be able to keep the number plate within the family and pass it on from one car to the next.
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3. All together now

Some people are fortunate (and wealthy) enough to be able to own multiple cars, or other types of vehicles for that matter, and clamour for a shared identity for their vehicles.

Thus, they will spend money on getting matching number plates for their vehicles. Whether it is multiple cars, or perhaps a car and a motorbike, it sure makes for a neat and cool-looking garage. You may have heard of a particular Tommy Goh, who owns multiple exotic cars bearing a plate with a single number three on it.
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4. Special numbers just for you

Of course, you don't have to be superstitious to want a particular set of numbers on your car plate. For some people, it may be a case of those particular numbers holding some special meaning to them. Perhaps it's their own lucky number, or their birth date, or maybe even the birth date of their children.
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5. Car-specific markers

What's cooler than a 911? A 911 with a 911 plate, of course! Yes, some may call this cheesy or just straight up indulgent, but there's no denying that it looks really cool, even if it may not necessarily mean anything special. We've definitely come across examples of this on several press cars we have driven, such as the Ferrari 488 GTB with a '488' plate, as well as the new Lexus LC500 with a '500' plate.
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6. Just looking good

Of course, there are also number plates that are old and extremely rare, which then drives up their value. For example, vintage single-S prefix plates are extremely rare, and can easily fetch six-figure sums. Similarly, double character S prefix or E prefix plates are also less common, and some people may clamour to own something unique and original.
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And if nothing else, from a pure vanity point of view, some plates just look cool and special. It can add some unique character to your ride and help you stand out from the crowd. We know people who would gladly embrace funny or even troll number plates, like 666 or 69.
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As you can see, there are many reasons that people spend money on unique number plates for their cars. After all, your car is something that is highly personal, and something that you will become closely associated with. Having a special number plates helps to augment the car's character and its relationship to you.
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