"It's a social trend that people are wanting to
personalise their houses, their own appearance and certainly
their cars," says Mr Vaux.
Compared with NSW, plates in Victoria are relatively
inexpensive. In NSW, the RTA charges an annual rental, while
VicRoads charges a one-off fee.
A specially issued standard plate costs $160, while a
six-digit personalised plate is $310. Other commemorative or
special-issue plates - such as those released by footy clubs -
The real money is in the resale value.
Mel McLennan owns VICnumberplates.com.au, a growing online
directory of about 1000 customised and collectable Victorian
number plates. He says that, although plates can be a good
investment, sellers often set unrealistic prices.
"What I say to people is that if you get four or five times
your money that's not a bad return. But if you've got
exceptional plates, well, then they're worth exceptional
Some investors have even higher hopes. ZMZMZM would be
perfect for your Mazda - if you've got a spare $8000. Kylie
fans can expect to pay $10,000 for MNOGUE, and if you want to
be ORIGNL you're looking at a cool $25,000.
Others try to outsmart business by registering plates with
company names. More than $20,000 is the asking price for a red
FOX-FM plate, while YAHOO has a $30,000 price tag. Neither has
The plates that raise real cash are heritage plates. Mr
McLennan recently sold an original enamel Victorian plate,
156, for $38,000.
"There's a lot of heritage plates. They're a very tightly
held plate and there are always about 20 on the market at any
time. They are worth some serious money. A two-digit one -
that's worth about $99,000. Big bucks."
For some, like 42-year-old prison officer Ron Penny, number
plates are just a hobby. Mr Penny is a member of the Number
Plate Collectors' Club, and says he isn't selling his
collection of about 300 Victorian plates. "For some people,
it's an investment, but I probably wouldn't sell them. For me
it's a hobby and an interest. I feel like I'm collecting part
of Victoria's history."