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Fictional Licence Plates

When out on the road it’s not hard to spot a personalised number plate. From the funny to the obscure, these jumbles of numbers and letters can certainly catch the eye. Let’s be honest, in many cases, a private plate might as well read ‘L00K AT M3’!

A group of US licence plates laid out in a grid pattern

In the United States, personal plates can feature numbers or letters (and in some areas punctuation) with colours and graphics often unique to the state they’re in. As such, they can be about almost anything, from people’s names to movies, phrases, and depending on the state, even cheeky profanities!

Even if in the UK we can’t have fancy number plates, they’re still a popular way of expressing ourselves. But we need to get it approved by the DVLA and then update your car insurance provider.

Typically, US licence plates will, in some way, reflect where the vehicle owner lives, be it via a symbol, colour scheme or text. So, this got us thinking about what some of the licence plates of famous fictional characters and places might look like.


Redesigned fictional number plates

Have you ever seen a car in your favourite TV show or movie and thought ‘I wish I could drive that!’. We’ve looked into the most popular fictional cars and cities to reimagine what their licence plates could look like.

Are you ready to see a licence plate worthy of the Batmobile? Or a design that’s the envy of the wizarding world? Read on to see the fictional number plates we've brought to life.


Gotham City from Batman

An illustration showing what a licence plate would look like if it was based in Gotham City from Batman

Gotham City is one of the most iconic and well-known cities in all of fiction. Although it might not be best known for being the safest fictional city, it’s home to some of our favourite superheroes and villains.

With that, a Gotham City plate would be dark, harsh and brooding, especially if it was attached to the Batmobile.

The message and the cityscape gridlines backdrop here pay homage to the caped crusader’s first publication, as well as his skills as a crime-fighting vigilante.


Vice City from the GTA series

An illustration showing what a licence plate would look like if it was based in Vice City from Grand Theft Auto

Vice City is an iconic location in Rockstar Games’ famous GTA series, with the huge, sprawling city being loosely based on Miami. Vice City is home to hot weather, golden beaches, busy highways, skyscrapers, hillside mansions and of course, the rich and famous.

So it’s no surprise that this plate features a striking pink colour with subtle nods to the lawless undercurrent that runs through these games. The licence plate is slick and smart, making it the perfect match for one of Tommy Vercetti’s sportscars.


Hogsmeade from Harry Potter

An illustration showing what a licence plate would look like if it was based in Hogsmeade from Harry Potter

The wizarding world of Harry Potter has many famous locations, but Hogsmeade Village is one of the most well-known.

In the books, Hogsmeade itself is quaint, has a quintessentially British country village vibe and is above all full of magic and wonder. From its snow-tipped ‘olde worlde’ buildings, to the charming interior of the Three Broomsticks, the plate needs to have a historic and mystical style.

This, alongside some scrawled text, would also look perfect on the Weasley’s classic Ford Anglia.

Although this does raise questions about whether there’s a wizard equivalent to car insurers. For example, would they need to inform the Ministry of Magic to update the plate change?

Saying that, with a history of underage drivers and Whomping Willow crashes, getting classic car insurance isn’t going to be easy.


Springfield from The Simpsons

An illustration showing what a licence plate would look like if it was based in Springfield from The Simpsons

As The Simpsons is one of the longest-running animated shows, it shouldn’t be shocking to hear that Springfield is a place many wish to go. This has meant a lot of careful consideration about what vanity plate Homer would have on his famous pink sedan.

Naturally, the colour scheme has to include the yellow shade that’s synonymous with The Simpsons.

However, in terms of the landmarks, characters and symbols that could be utilised, we’re spoilt for choice with over 30 seasons of content on offer. Anything from a donut, to the plant’s cooling towers, the gorge or the Kwik-E-Mart—there are plenty of ways to show some love for Springfield.


Fairview from Desperate Housewives

An illustration showing what a licence plate would look like if it was based in Fairview from Desperate Housewives

Even though the show ended in 2012, the town of Fairview from Desperate Housewives is a fictional location that remains popular.

Fairview is meant to be modelled on a typical, low-key, 50s-style, American suburban town to contrast to the exciting lives of the main characters. The street of Wisteria Lane is of course where all the drama goes down, so the plate should also bear the hallmarks of the area.

The vanity plate would almost certainly be attached to Gabby’s Aston Martin DB9 that we first see in season 2.


Iconic movie cars

We also looked at some of the most iconic cars in movie history, each featuring its own unique vanity plate. Here are the top 5 most popular choices:

1) Panther De Ville from 101 Dalmatians

This car was first seen in the 1996 live-action version of this Disney classic, belonging to Cruella de Vil. Aptly named, Cruella’s car also bore the licence plate ‘DEV IL’ and was first seen when she paid a visit to Radcliffe’s home.

If you wanted to buy a model of this car today it would set you back an average cost of around £57,000.

2) Chitty Chitty Bang Bang from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

Although not strictly a ‘real’ car, the models built for the 1968 film featured Ford engines and were based on racing cars of the time. The car itself is bought and rebuilt by Dick Van Dyke’s character, Caractacus Potts, and he gives it the famous ‘GEN 11’ plate.

As unique as the car is, you could buy a copy of it, if you have a spare £650,000 lying around.

3) ECTO-1 from Ghostbusters

A hybrid car of sorts, Ecto-1 was the car used by the Ghostbusters in the cinematic masterpiece from 1984. It was a mix of a 1959 Cadillac, an ambulance and a hearse, and was bought by Dan Ackroyd’s character Dr Ray Stanz.

We first catch a glimpse of its iconic white chassis when the heroes are starting their ghostbusting services in the early parts of the movie. ‘ECTO-1’ is also on the licence plate and the car would go on to be used in the sequel films, most recently in Ghostbusters: Afterlife.

While it’s hard to purchase an exact replica today, the old models mixed together would collectively cost around £4,300.

4) Herbie the VW Beetle from The Love Bug

Disney’s 1968 tale of Herbie, the anthropomorphic VW Beetle who goes on to be racing champion, was a smash hit movie, spawning many sequels. Herbie had the licence plate ‘OFP 857’ which was also emblazoned with ‘California’ in reference to the main setting for the film.

The numbers and letters on the plate apparently mean ‘Our First Production 8 ‘57’, referring to it being the producer Robert Stevenson’s first Disney movie. Complete with the white paint and racing stripes, Herbie also boosted the Beetle’s profile, but today only a handful of original models can be found.

If you’re in the market for one, and you can find one, they can cost around £15,000.

5) 1969 Ford Mustang from John Wick

The powerful 1969 Ford Mustang driven by the titular character in John Wick is the perfect match for Keanu Reeves’ brutal assassin. The car is first used at the beginning of the movie when it’s stolen by Russian gangsters, which then kicks off the main action. The New Jersey licence plate reads XAB 235 and is used to give a little insight into Wick’s past.

The 1969 Mustang is considered a classic now and as such, can cost a hefty £137,000.


Most expensive UK number plates

In the last 30 years around 6 million personalised number plates have been sold, generating £2 billion for the Treasury. Among the variety of styles of plates are the more expensive plates that stand out on the road.

We know that there are many reasons why people want a change. Typically it’s to reference personal things like family or a favourite sports team. Other reasons for it include wanting to mask how old a vehicle is, but with the most expensive plates, it’s probably all about the prestige.

The value of a number plate is largely driven by supply and demand. For example, one letter, one number, dateless plates have a small number of combinations available. This means this plate is more desirable due to its limited availability for those who want a plate that stands out.

Current style plates have a higher supply and lower demand for combinations, which makes them lower in value.

Here are the top most expensive UK number plates:

Rank Reg Price Date Sold
25 O
Nov 2014
X 1
Nov 2012
G 1
Sep 2011
RR 1
Sep 2018
F 1
Jan 2008
S 1
Sep 2008
1 D
Mar 2009
1 S
Mar 2010
M 1
Jun 2006
GB 1
Nov 2009
Jan 2021
D 2
Oct 2015
Jan 2006
1 BM
Dec 2014
V 1
Jan 2006

Most expensive number plates in the world

On an international level the costs get even crazier, reaching millions of pounds. And we also noticed that the plates get much shorter too. It seems you have to pay a lot of digits for a single digit!

The top most expensive licence plates in the world are:

Rank Reg Country Price Price in £
Dubai, UAE
D 5
Dubai, UAE
Abu Dhabi, UAE
Abu Dhabi, UAE
O 9
Dubai, UAE
Abu Dhabi, UAE
Abu Dhabi, UAE
Hong Kong
18.1m HKD
Hong Kong
16.5m HKD
Abu Dhabi, UAE
New South Wales, Australia
2.4m AUD
Hong Kong
Hong Kong
13m HKD
Abu Dhabi, UAE
8.9m AED
Abu Dhabi, UAE

Looking to change your reg plate?

Alex Kindred, car insurance expert at Confused.com, shares his advice for those who now might be considering a change of plate:

“Whether you’ve been inspired by our ‘fictional licence plates’, or you’ve had your head turned by the prospect, go through all your options first. Before you invest in a personalised licence plate, make sure you are happy with your choice, as this will be a longstanding feature on your car.

“When you buy a new number plate you should tell the DVLA about the change you plan to make to your plate, though the process can be a little confusing.

"The registration transfer must be complete and the new registration is shown on your new V5C document before changing the plates on your car. You can transfer your private number plate via the DVLA online assignment system. Make sure you have your V5C along with the V750 or V778 details for the registration mark, as well as valid tax and MOT certificate.

“As we’ve already mentioned you also need to update your car insurance provider so they can update your records. But be aware that some companies may then charge you a process or admin fee.”