Custom rego: ultimate accessory or waste of money?

Custom rego: ultimate accessory or waste of money?

YOU’VE got the factory optioned Alcantara seats with contrasting stitching. You paid extra to have the triple-protection paint treatment and UV tint applied before delivery. After, you made a beeline to the original accessories store where you had the branded mats and roof rack fitted. And then, on your way out, you grabbed the matching baseball cap and luggage for a good measure.

There’s not a single accessory left in all the SuperBarn and AutoCheap stores in the country that you haven’t got but there is still a wad of cash burning a hole in your pocket like wobbly Fukushima reactor, so what do you do?

For the car owner who has everything, including money to burn, there is often one final bastion of the accessory world to turn to. The one accessory that adds no value, no performance enhancement, no safety, economy or practicality benefits and yet commands a handsome premium.

We are, of course, talking about the custom registration plate.

Most road-users will be able to recount at least one or two good and bad examples of custom regos, as readily as you could recount examples of tattoos at either ends of the spectrum. Your star sign as a Chinese character seemed like such a good idea in 1998 didn’t it? So is there really such a thing as a respectable personalised plate?


First of all you have to decipher it. As a general rule, if you have to explain the meaning of your plate, you have wasted $500. What about this recently spotted example: RUDEAF? Rude as f*** or Are you deaf? Actually it was screwed to a hearing services van, but you get the point, and there are far more obscure examples.

Even in the cases where it is patently obvious what you are trying to say, your efforts won’t necessarily garner admiring looks.

As a case in point, take the guy in the UK who payed top-dollar for a plate that read PEN 15. There are a number of ways that one could be interpreted, but disappointingly, VA61ANA has been banned, preventing a feminine retaliation. As has 15LAM, PI5 OFF and WA5TED.

But thanks to Australia’s state-by-state system that allows far more versatility and creativity, local roads are littered with examples.

A Hummer H3 with HARD AS, a Jeep Patriot wearing FLEMMM, FAR TED on a BMW X5 and a Volkswagen Amarok that proudly displayed the word ERECT. Are any of these sending a good message and worth the cash?

With custom plates costing about $500, we put our heads together at the Wheels office and came up with a list of things that are a better investment of your hard-earned dollars than personalised rego plates.

  • A neck tattoo that reads “You only YOLO once.”
  • Invest it with that Nigerian guy who emailed you
  • Hairpieces to disguise a bald patch start from around $500
  • About five tanks of fuel to actually enjoy using your car
  • A six-year subscription to Wheels magazine
  • 17 kilograms of fillet steak
  • 500 of something at the Queen Victoria Market at closing time

There is only one exception to the rule and that is the European and Japanese-style plates which also command a premium over standard issue items, but add an unbeatable look of authenticity to your rare or desirable overseas-branded car.


For everything else, we assume that exhibitors would like passers-by to regard them as, witty, articulate, well-endowed or wealthy, but in the absence of any obvious benefit to fitting a custom plate, they probably just think you’re a bit of a D1CK.

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