IDIOT. That's what I think every time I see a certain Toyota Corolla - looks around 20-years-old - which cruises around my suburb sporting a two-digit personalised number plate.
Why an idiot? Quite simply, the man (quite elderly as it turns out) is sporting a number plate worth substantially more than his old jalopy, and that doesn't sit well with me. Surely I'm not the only one who would compel the old man to sell the plate and treat himself to a newer and fancier automobile with a normal number plate?
But is it me who's being the idiot? With the Shannons Sydney Autumn Auction on Monday, and numerous number plates going under the hammer there, some look like rock solid investments when comparing historical prices versus today's.
Said auction has Queensland plate 'Q75' with a rather frightening estimate of $55-60,000, suggesting whoever bought it in 1985 for around $3000 is in for something of an investment windfall. Were such growth to continue, if 'Q75' sells for $60,000 on March 14, the new owner could sell it on in 2046 for $1.2million.
But there'll always be people like me. Sixty grand for a metal plate with 'Q75' on it seems bloody ridiculous in my eyes, investment or not.
Especially when the same Shannons auction has a delicious-looking 1970 Ford Mustang Mach 1 Fastback up for grabs with a lower guide price than that numerical bit of tin. I know which I'd rather take home.
But here's the rub. I respect those who invest in classic cars, even if a bit begrudgingly if they are static investments and never actually driven.
I've even dabbled in buying the odd classic myself in the hope they will appreciate in value over the years, and while that did materialise, the cost of servicing, registering, repairs (multiple) and even storage nullified any value gains.
No such problems with a number plate. They just sit there on your car making you richer by the day; they never need maintenance and there are no annual fees in Queensland (unlike NSW) for owning one.
Okay, so I'm sold on the idea of a hassle-free investment increasing twentyfold over the next 30 years, as that should neatly coincide with my retirement. Let's go plate shopping.
On PPQ's website (ppq.com.au) not only can you create your own new plate from the database, but you can shop a resale noticeboard where existing plate owners can flog their unwanteds.
Priciest is 'Q47' up for $80,000. It sold in 1985 for $3200, a decent increase of 2400% over 31 years, or around 11% per annum for all you serious investors out there.
If you can't afford a desirable black and white 'Q' plate, how about BOND for $20,000? Or $6000 for SHUT UP? Fancy being ROBOCOP for $4000? Or you can buy BIG BOY for $3000 if you really must. Or there's IM SEXY, the seller asking $2950 for this narcissistic delight.
While you could make a case for the Q plates with double or single digits (like Q75) still being sound investments, I'm not convinced you'll be able to flog BIG BOY for $60,000 in three decades' time.
In fact, such examples make private plates seem a bit tacky, so maybe I've gone off the idea again. Thanks, but I'll put a bid in for that lovely Mustang Mach 1 instead.