Category: Archive

Millennium offers to options for vanity plates

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Andrew Bushe

DUBLIN — A record number of people are expected to apply for special car number plates next year when the millennium 00 prefix will allow owners to display previously unavailable labels like variations of the 007 tag.

The Revenue Commissioners are set to take in about £300,000 as motorists and James Bond wannabes splash out to reserve a so-called "cherished" number.

"We have been getting a huge number of inquiries but no applications will be considered until Nov. 1," a spokesman for the Commissioners said.

Unlike in Britain, where the trade in vanity number plates — including Kilkenny’s famous VIP 1 registration — is a multi-million pounds industry, the Irish trade is a more modest business.

In a scheme introduced in the 1992 Finance Act, the Revenue Commissioners only charge £250 to cover the administration cost of reserving a "cherished" number and the plate "dies" when the car does.

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If a number of people are all seeking the same number, a lottery is held and those who miss out get their money back.

Many inquiries have involved plates to match the models of their cars. Some of the biggest demand this year was to match the Alfa Romeo model.

"People look for the 323 to go with a Mazda or the 520 for a BMW," the spokesman said. "If the car could become a classic, then it is felt that it will enhance the resale value way down the line.

The Revenue Commissioners say 666, the number associated with the Devil, was particularly controversial, though people did reserve it. "By and large people don’t want it and in fact it is really only available now by being applied for," the spokesman said.

Combinations of twos, threes and so on are also popular and there is also strong interest in the hundreds and thousands numbers.

Superstitious numerologists avoid any combinations that add up to 13.

The Revenue spokesman said there had been a steady increase in reservations from 629 in 1997 to 908 for this year. About three times that number make applications.

In Britain the sale of number plates, which can be transferred from car to car, is now a major business. It has swelled government coffers by over £250 million in the last 10 years.

The most valuable plate is KI NGS, which fetched £235,000 when it last came up for sale in 1993. No far behind is the Kilkenny plate VIP 1. It dates from 1971 when it was first registered to the late Bill Finnigan, the marketing man who helped develop the Kilkenny Beer festival and later became chairman of Gulf Oil Ireland. He always claimed to have secured the number plate for his Jaguar XJ6 just ahead of local people who tried to get it to adorn the car of the local Catholic bishop. He is believed to have sold the plate in 1984 for £5,500.

Currently on a Volvo, VIP 1 changed hands in 1989 for £93,000 and is believed to have fetched about double that when sold in Wales in 1997.

Initially, Irish number plates had not been transferable to Britain but the rules were changed in 1990 and an amnesty was granted for them.

Other famous British plates include 26-year-old air hostess Debbie Brooke’s 36 C (£5,200), BAS IL (£42,650), I TEE (£52,000), JI MMY (£35,000), BI MBO (£18,000), and BRA IN (£16,000).

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