I have been thinking about this for a while, and conclude that it is a really hard subject to get to the bottom of.
‘Personalised’ number plates.
What is the point of them? There are a number of different types of personalised number plates, and therefore there might be a number of different reasons for them, but I am not sure. I think that ultimately they are a sign of stupidity.
The point, presumably, is for other people to see them. They are on display, and relate directly to the owner of the car, so they are making a statement. I’m the one reading them, so whatever it is, I should get it. But what is it? Are they saying, “look how clever I am”, or how funny? (I wouldn’t be thinking that at all). So are they saying, look, I’m so rich I can afford to waste my money on a personalised plate? We know some are hugely expensive, so this is vanity and pomposity, or an admission of folly. What else could people want the reader of their plate to think or feel? Maybe it involves a sense of ‘exclusivity’, a unique number-plate makes the owner feel important? Well all registration numbers are unique, and self-importance is not attractive. They are, in the end, a badge. Some people have them, most people don’t. Like tattoos. It puts you in a club. Not one I’d want to join. It’s a club of people with mostly embarrassing, foolish or childish outward signs. If anyone is genuinely impressed by a personalised number plate they will be a bit lacking in the brain department. If you bought one, you fell for it.
A Bentley has a badge, and over the years this badge has been a sign of quality. Everyone knows the statement a Bentley makes. So why add something idiotic like BEN713Y, or PEN 15. It just makes you look like one.
So what are these things?
First there are short, symmetrical, alliterative ones like A1, B50 0SB or A 333 BBB,
There are age-related plates. All cars are originally fitted with age related plates, so to have the correct period plate on a car seems reasonable. These don’t have to say anything. 509 GPL is just the right number to have on a 1950 Greeves. It isn’t a personalised plate unless it is transferred to something else, when it loses any significance and become pompous.
Then there are plates that contain the name or initials of the owner, or are in some way descriptive of the car, such as V8 TVR, or POR 911 E, or RR 1 on a Rolls Royce. Here a degree of stupidity is creeping in. Having your initials on the car number plate is either co-incidence, or paid for. There may have been co-incidence in the past, but now as all are paid for no-one would think of a co-incidence happening, so it is a form of pomposity. Pomposity is not an attractive trait. Having V8 TVR on the number plate is even more stupid. It would have cost a lot of money, and it probably says it’s a TVR on the back anyway. And if not, it costs little to have a V8 badge and a TVR badge if it’s important for other people to be told what they probably already know, should they care.
But it’s the ones that are close to saying something that are the most stupid, some more than others: A Mr Friend has the number plate FR13NDO . This is no more than a registration number for a Range Rover, but attempts something which the owner presumably thinks is either clever or funny, or what?
A van carries the number AT07LET, made to look like A TOILET. Hysterical. POT7Y or TW4T might be appropriate.
A Bentley (I think it was) has the number plate BUY 1T. What is the owner thinking? That’s a serious question. Perhaps he’s a dealer, but would the number plate influence you to do so?
I thought not.
Then there are HGVs with them; a haulage company called TJ Transport has all it’s trucks registered with TJT as the last three letters. What the benefit of this is I’m not sure, maybe it helps to remember them, as there is less to remember, and I don’t think when ordering a new truck it costs anything to specify these from ordinary issue plates, so I’ll accept that this isn’t stupid.
The best one I saw was 1 SPY, but of course no self respecting spy would say so.
But the most ridiculous one I have ever seen was on a dull Citroen. It had the number PR08LOM and the owner had made a sticker reading NO which was stuck in front of the numberplate on the bumper, front and back. What fun. This type make up the vast majority and are the most brainless.
So many people have personalised number plates, that it is no longer even a curiosity. It’s like stretch limos; they used to be luxurious and now they are naff.
Many of these ‘cherished’ (aaargh) number plates almost but not quite read something, but that something is pretty meaningless. And a great many of these people are intelligent, well off, successful people, sporting the numbers on expensive cars. Why?
I can understand Jimmy Tarbuck having COM1C, but it’s a one trick pony. Once one number plate like this has been around, the joke is done. The rest are sad. Owners of personalised plates are at best trying to tell a bad joke over and over again.
In the 1960s, when these things were relatively rare a friend of my parents had two fast sports cars , registered MAD 90 and MAD 91, and a local blonde bombshell drove an E-Type with the number HOT1E. For a racing car fan like myself, aged about ten, that was cool. And that’s where it should have stopped.
The rest just look ridiculous; like tattoos, which cost money, “cherished” number-plates also cost. Like pouring it down the drain; a sure sign of stupidity.