Personalised plates may hide secrets

From first cars to dream supercars, British motorists are eager to put their personal stamp on their car. Car owners are purchasing personalised number plates to reflect their name or nick name, life status – or simply hide the true age of the vehicle – and they aren’t afraid to spend big bucks to get the desired digits. In fact, the priciest plate ever sold by the DVLA1 was for the number plate ‘25 O’, which sold for a whopping £518,000. The plate was purchased by a Ferrari dealer and is believed to be on a Ferrari 250SWB, once owned by Eric Clapton. However, vehicle provenance check expert, HPI, warns that cars with a plate transfer can often be hiding something sinister.

Analysis of HPI Checks conducted in 20142, has revealed that 1 in 5 cars checked have undergone a plate transfer. The top 5 types of cars which are most likely to have undergone a plate change are ‘Performance Cars & Hot Hatches’, which top the list with 56 per cent followed by ‘Roadsters & Cabriolets’ at 42 per cent. Coupes come in third at 41 per cent. 4×4’s and executive cars also make the list at 39 per cent and 37 per cent respectively. Whilst many of these plate changes have been made innocently to personalise a vehicle, it is only once a provenance check has been carried out that used car buyers can rest assured that they know the true identity of the vehicle.

Neil Hodson, managing director for HPI, explains “Whether it’s HRH Queen Elizabeth II with her prestigious ‘A 7’ number plate, which was released in 1903 by London Council on a first come first served basis, to the everyday British motorist wanting to make their mark, personalised plates continue to be in high demand.

“Whilst they can be a great gift or purchase to stand out from the crowd, it is really important that used car buyers recognise that personalised plates can be hiding more than they may think. For example, the vehicle may be a stolen car, which has had a legitimate number plate applied to conceal its stolen status. This is commonly known as car cloning. Buyers can find themselves out of pocket if they have mistakenly purchased a stolen car, as the police can remove the vehicle from their possession, resulting in them losing both the car and the cash they paid for it.”

The HPI Check offers a £30,000 Guarantee in the event of the information it provides being inaccurate – offering added financial peace of mind to used car buyers. Crucially, it is the only vehicle provenance check to include clone cover as standard within its Guarantee.

Neil Hodson concludes “The HPI Check will cross-reference the Vehicle Registration Mark (VRM) and the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), matching them against the vehicle’s official history to see if it correlates. It also searches its own archives going as far back as 1990, to see if anything untoward happened to the vehicle under its previous plates. On average, every day, 41 vehicles that are checked with us are identified as being recorded as stolen4 by the police. This is not limited to high value performance cars either, so used car buyers should make the most of a HPI Check which can independently determine the true identity of the car.”

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