So what’s the difference between a personalised plate and a cherished plate? Technically nothing, because fundamentally, they are the same. Both types of private plates offer unique non-generic alphanumeric combinations to motorist. However, they are also not entirely the same.
In simple terms, cherished plates have no age identifiers. This means, the age of a vehicle cannot be determined simply by looking at the plates. How is this possible?
When number plates first came out in 1904, government and local authorities had no idea how popular it would become. As such, the number plate formats issued were very basic, and contain no age identifier. This would go on for six decades and three different formats. Age identifiers were only introduced in 1962 with the suffix system.
However, by then, there were already tens of thousands of plates between two and five characters – many of them were either pronounceable or very symbolic. Most of these plates though were not transferrable, and sort of ‘died’ with the car, and were returned to the DVLA circulation – at a very costly premium. The transferrable ones, meanwhile, were snapped up by forward thinking speculators. By the 1970s, such plates grew in demand, and an affectionate term was created for it – cherished plates.
Cherished plates emerged as a status symbol in the 1980s owing to their rarity and high cost. Unfortunately, this only increased their appeal, and the elite began hiring brokers to hunt for the cherished plates to be assigned to their Bentleys and Rolls Royces.
It would not be wrong to attribute the development of today’s personalised plate sector to the thriving cherished plate sector of the 1980s.