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TRANSPORT & LOGISTICS | Staff Reporter, Hong Kong
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The most expensive personalized car plate revealed

The costliest is worth more than $500,000.

Here's from Hong Kong Services information Department

It is hard not to smile when a car drives past bearing a licence plate proclaiming “1 AM FAT” or “HEHEHAHA”. For the owners who pay top dollar for a few craftily arranged letters or numbers though, personalised vehicle registration marks are no laughing matter.

Since the Transport Department introduced the personalised plates scheme in 2006, it has sold 15,958 of them through 67 auctions, raising $242.9 million. Many are creative and catchy, revealing something about their buyer’s character. As fewer original ones remain available, they reveal even greater ingenuity each year.

Some choose marks based on pop culture icons. Movie titles “STARWARS”, “BATMAN”, “AVATAR” and “WALLE” were snapped up in past auctions. The “BEATLES” mark sold to a “fab four” fan for $370,000. “GUNDAM” cost $110,000, “T0YS” $100,000, “D0RAEM0N” $80,000, “SONY” $80,000, “GANGSTA” $48,000, “ANDY LAU” $40,000, and “TW1NS” $27,000.

Clever car owners have made use of the two-row format to create simple designs or faces using letters and numbers. In one example, two “0”s separated by a space on the top row, and a capital letter “V” in the middle of the bottom row form a smiley face.

Some inventive combinations raise eyebrows: Why did a buyer choose “DD MM YY”, presumably standing for date, month and year? Others raise chuckles, as well as cash: The mark “HAHAHAHA” sold for $65,000 while “HEHEHAHA” cost $95,000.

Money could not buy “HAPP1NESS” - it is longer than the eight-character limit. But it did buy “HAPPY” - for $240,000. In comparison, a girl’s best friend - “D1AM0ND” - sold for $60,000, while “WEALTH” went for just $8,000.

Money can buy ‘LOVE’
Personalised plates that include the combination “L0VE” or “10VE” are sought after, and about 40 such marks have been sold. “1 L0VE U” holds the record for the highest bid ever. It sold in the first auction in 2006 for $1.4 million.

In September, two marks “1 10VE U” and “L0VE U 2” attracted enthusiastic bidding. In the end, popular classical musician Suen Wing beat the competition, taking the marks for $200,000 and $280,000.

“I had no intention to buy these two marks in the very beginning. I planned to buy another one. But I found my favourite word on the auction list – ‘love’ – I like this word very much,” Ms Suen said.

“The world needs love. Everyone needs love. Love makes the world more beautiful. So I bought these two marks and I think they are both good value for money.”

Less is more
Over the years, simple marks bearing just two capital letters such as “AY” or “HC” have proven popular. In the September 2007 auction, 245 marks were sold, raising a total of more than $6.8 million. Almost half of the money raised, more than $3.1 million, was from the sale of just 11 marks with two capital letters.

Of 18 marks which cost more than $500,000 a piece, 14 are two capital-letter combinations, the Transport Department says. “CH” was the most expensive, selling for $1.4 million, the same as “1 L0VE U”.

Every January, May and September, vehicle owners can choose their preferred vehicle registration marks by applying to the Transport Department and participating in a bidding exercise upon approval. Visit the Transport Department website for application and auction details.
 

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