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Shameless Attempts to Avoid Plate Recognition

November 25, 2014
Posted in Editorial — Written by Nationla Numbers

Today I’m taking a look at number plate recognition technology, which we should be all familiar with at this point (if not, we have previous wrote about it on this blog), specifically about how drivers react when faced with one of these cameras. They are definitely the new trend in motoring law enforcement, often being paired up with speed cameras to detect vehicles that are uninsured or without tax. As with everything though there will be those who will try to avoid them … and not just by doing the obvious like not driving anywhere near them.

Lets take a look at a country famous for over-the-top characters: The United States of America!

Number plate recognition is the trendy thing across the pond as well, but dodgy drivers are being a lot more creative than they really should bother being when faced with one of these 1984-esq cameras. Especially at a local level where these cameras are used for toll roads. Bearing in mind that said tolls can be as little as 26 CENTS (about 17p!) it is baffling how much effort goes into avoiding Automatic Number Plate Readers.



Here we see one American biker performing the dangerous stunt of leaning off the side of his motorcycle to cover his number plate. Clearly he doesn’t have as much control as he should over his bike, not to mention that he is only using one arm to steer. It cannot possibly be safe. Let me stress once again that he did this to avoid a toll of 26 cents. Was it really worth it?

Fortunately other drivers have found a way with obscure their number plates without putting their life in immediately danger, such as convertible drivers getting their passengers to lean back out of the car to cover the plates with their hands. Admittedly, not exactly safe but better than the example above. Others use duck tape and plastic sheets to cover their number plates in a not so subtle way.

You’ve then got the clever clogs who think outside the box. They know they don’t have to cover the number plates to hide them from the cameras, they’ve just got to make sure than ANPRs cannot read them. Some drivers use clear spray paint to dull their plates – to the naked eye it won’t look like anything has changed but it takes away the reflective coating plates normally have, which means infra-red cameras won’t get feedback. Obviously this also means other cars won’t be able to spot your number plate either, so once again is it really worth it?


Other drivers, like the one above, actually bend their metal plates. This makes it a lot harder for ANPRs to read your number plate clearly, and in some cases not at all when the plates are bent all the way under the vehicle axis. Number plate readers are programmed to detect off-kilter alignment and different angles and distances, but the addition of a crease throws some models off. Of course, here in the UK this can’t be done thanks to the acrylic plastic we make our out of – bending plates will result in them snapping.


In one example this artful dodger got away thanks to the use of see-through plastic. Once again the manipulates the function of the cameras to miss the registration in most cases. This driver has thought of everything though – notice the smear of grease obscuring the last three digits on his registration? Once again though, this cannot be done in the UK because all number plates are made out of the same material.

The lengths some people will go to, just to avoid small tolls. You would think it would be easier – not to mention safe – to just pay the fee or find a different route!

This is the US we are talking about though, where number plate laws vary in all 50 states. In the UK we have pretty strong laws about vehicle registrations, how they can be displayed and even how they are spaced. Admittedly it won’t stop people attempted that little bike trick we showed earlier, but I don’t any sane person would actually attempt such a stunt, especially when half the time you are unlikely to even know when one is watching you anyway!


10 Interesting Plates in the DVLA’s November Auction

November 20, 2014
Posted in DVLA — Written by Nationla Numbers

If you are new to the number plate game you might not be aware of the DVLA’s personalised number plate auctions. These are the auctions where the DVLA sell off a selection of the vast number of registrations never been issued to the public. In other words, if you buy a number plate from an auction you will be the first owner, which is why good deals are to be had.

As a number plate dealer I buy a lot of my stock this way, and for a member of the public it is perfect for getting a great plate at a decent price. The November auction will be hosted at The Vale Resort in Cardiff and will run from the 26th to the 28th. Below I have listed 10 marks that have caught my eye and the Estimate Price* I reckon we’ll see on the day. You can grab the full list of plates available here.

(* = Hammer price before fees.)

Porsche 991 Turbo 911 Number Plate

#1: POR 991T (Lot No: 1133)

Meaning: Porsche 991 Turbo

Reserve: lb400

Estimate Price: lb1,500

There is a few Porsche plates in this auction, one very good that I will mention later, but I expect this one to be quite a steal at lb1,500, especially if you have the matching car. I think the price will stay down because the model is still very new so it is not very widely driven yet, but it might only take two or three owners showing up to make things pick up. In case that happens though there are a few more in the same auction: 111 POR, POR 217T, POR 711A and POR 993X.

Fulton Fullton number plate

#2: FU11 TON (Lot No: 479)

Meaning: Fullton, Fulton

Reserve: lb900

Estimate Price: lb2,600

I’ve estimated this to go quite low because it is not a hugely popular surname, but it is about as close as you could possibly get to “Fulton”/“Fullton” so I imagine a bunch of people will be trying their hand. It only takes two or three bidders with deep pockets to create a bidding war that could see this go for a lot more, but if so it is not the end of the world as F111 TON will also be available a few lots later.

Belamy Bellamy number plate

#3: BE11 AMY (Lot No: 127)

Meaning: Bellamy

Reserve: lb1,000

Estimate Price: lb5,000

It is hard to predict what these sorts of plate go for because there are very few plates to compare it to. For the name, “Bellamy”, it is perfect so it really depends on who is there on the day. lb5,000 is quite a conservative prediction, but as I mentioned earlier it just takes two or three affluent bidders to make it fly way above that. I can pretty much guarantee that the plate will be back on the market a couple of years from now at a five-figure price.

25000 25 OOO number plate

#4: 25 OOO (Lot No: 1063)

Meaning: 25000

Reserve: lb3,000

Estimate Price: lb5,500

I always like looking out for these are they always go quite decently. There is even a rumour going around that the same party is buying them all at each auction. Looking at the history we’ve had 20 OOO go at lb5.5k, 21 OOO at lb5k and 22 OOO at lb5.5k, so this should be a pretty safe bet at our estimated price. However, sometimes you never can predict as 23 OOO went at lb9k. Maybe this registration will have similar fortunes?

WELSH WALES number plate

#5: WEL 55H (Lot No: 1498)

Meaning: Welsh

Reserve: lb1,000

Estimate Price: lb6,000

It is not the only “Welsh”/“Wales” plate coming available, there is also W44 LES, WEL 6H and WA11 LES coming up in the same auction, but this one in particular grabbed my attention because the WEL 5H sold at over lb27,000 when it went to auction several years ago. This is definitely one to watch, as the result could be surprising. I doubt it will get anywhere near to price of its shorter counterpart though.

Callum number plate

#6: CA11 LUM (Lot No: 205)

Meaning: Callum, Calum

Reserve: lb900

Estimate Price: lb8,000

I could be underestimating this number plate because it isn’t the perfect spelling of “Callum” (three L’s), but it is a pretty tidy number plate. A quick look on the market shows that other plates referring to this name are going for as high as lb40,000 so there is definite investment opportunity. Plus, if you want a “Callum” plate and do not want to pay that sort of price this might just be your last chance to get one cheaper. However, I do know C411 UM* plates are still available.


Rhianna number plate

#7: RH14 NNA (Lot No: 1199)

Meaning: Rhianna

Reserve: lb1,000

Estimate Price: lb12,000

I cannot wait for this one. It is very hard to pick a price on this because there has never been anything like that name that has gone through auction before. R14 NNA is on the private market at over lb10,000, but this is perfect for the name. Everyone is thinking the obvious, that the popstar will want it, but she does not live in the country, so who realistically will be bidding on it? People called “Rhianna”, those who have named their daughter “Rhianna”, maybe even people who hope to sell it to the popstar one day. My prediction? Lots of bidders, but most of them will not bid high. Will it break lb10k? I think so, but I can definitely see most bidders dropping out before it gets anywhere near that.

Porsche 911 GTS number plate

#8: 911 GTS (Lot No: 544)

Meaning: Porsche 911 GTS

Reserve: lb1,900

Estimate Price: lb12,000

I reckon this will break into five figures no problem, eclipsing my estimated price. The Porsche 911 is a very popular car so there are bound to be a lot of interest from owners and dealers alike. To give you an idea a new model will cost you upwards of lb90,000, so I guarantee they’ll be a lot of people with the money to spend. You can also bet that it will increase the value of a car that is being resold too, perfect investment.

McLaren number plate

#9: MC14 REN (Lot No: 902)

Meaning: McLaren

Reserve: lb5,000

Estimate Price: lb15,000

This could be go for anything. Definitely one that will break five figures because of a double meaning – it is a surname and could also refer to the F1 team. I wouldn’t be surprised if a representative of McLaren is actually there to bid for it. That said, it might be one that has a very high resale value but goes for cheaper than expected, it is an obvious target for people trying to get an investment number plate.

Robson number plate

#1o: RO13 SON (Lot No: 1218)

Meaning: Robson

Reserve: lb1,000

Estimate Price: lb20,000

This is the big one. The name is very common and this registration is absolutely perfect for it. We know it is going to be popular as well because we had well over a hundred people contact us about it when the 13-issue registrations were about to be released, many of them telling us they would pay upwards of lb10,000 to get hold of it. Since then though more people will have 13-reg vehicles and more people will have realised that it was coming up for auction. Like with RH14 NNA I expect there will be a room full of bidders, but I reckon they’ll be a handful of people willing to bid high. I would not be surprised if it surpassed our estimated price by some distance, in fact.

What are your predictions for the upcoming auction? Are there any plates you are looking forward to? Let us know in the comments below!


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DVLA’s Number Plate Survey

November 16, 2014
Posted in DVLA — Written by Nationla Numbers

The objective of the number plate review survey carriedout in June, 2014 was to gain feedback from the public and number plate suppliers on the current regulations.

The Customer Experience and Research Unit have helpfully published an executive summary. Some of the findings include the following:-

  • 98% of respondents were members of the public (2,797)
  • 61% of the above had purchased number plates within the last 10 years.

The good news for us as a personalised number plate dealer is that 48% (more than 800) of the above group purchased new plates as a result of acquiring a personal registration.

At this point, it is relevant to briefly outline the regulations put in place as park of DVLA’s drive to decrease car crime. All suppliers must register with DVLA as a RNPS (Registered Number Plate Supplier). For example, Nationla Numbers Ltd was an early applicant registered as number 133. Our sister company, Jepson and Co, as a major manufacturer of acrylic plates for more than 100 years is, obviously, also registered.

To provide number plates legally, a supplier must have sight of the original V5/C’s (registration certificate or logbook) plus personal ID such as a driving licence or utility bill.

The survey states that the preferred method of buying number plates was in person.

Interestingly, 55% of respondents said they needed to provide a V5/C as proof of entitlement with 46% being required to prove name and address as well.

Another part of the report stated that while the majority (67%) preferred to purchase “over the counter”, 27% purchased from an online trader.

Remembering the regulations out-lined above, it is somewhat bizarre that the report authors go on to state: “Surprisingly, 27% of respondents advised that they didn’t have to show any form of identification.”

We, as a RNPS, have alerted DVLA on numerous occasions as to the presence and identity of these online suppliers who operate totally outside the regulations, often requiring an “office” outside the UK. Not only do the internet suppliers make a mockery of the security procedures designed to reduce car crime but they also represent unfair competition to registered suppliers who are subject to inspection, etc.

To our knowledge, little or nothing has been done by DVLA to remove these illegal traders from the internet. Neither have they accepted suggestions from RNPS representatives so that we can operate legally on the internet, namely to accept scanned copies of documentation.

We feel these actions by DVLA would increase security of the system.

What do you think?

It’s that significant number “27” again. Some people attach significance to the face that Janis Joplin, Brian Jones, Kurt Cobain and Jim Morrison all died at 27 years of age.

We don’t expect DVLA to include the above in their survey but surely they should be able to connect the 27% buying on the net with the 27% not being asked for ID and do something!


Endangered: How Many of These Classic Cars Are Left?

November 12, 2014
Posted in Cars — Written by Nationla Numbers

These are the rarest classic cars in the country. They have been sought after for a long time by many, and fantasised about by even more. For a motor enthusiast these simply are the dream cars to own … but time is running out! These cars came off the production line decades ago and now numbers are dwindling. It might not be long until some of them disappear completely. From the Imp to the DB1, these are the endangered vehicles that all car owners wish the could have and how many of them are left in the country.

rare classic cars how many of them are left

Britain’s rarest classic cars: An Infographic created by Nationla Numbers


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