These instances of weird license plates are nothing but a mix of creativity and personalization taken too far. Personalized license plates are the best way to announce to the world that you have arrived. We all love having our marks on our prized possessions. Often, it is just to tell other people that the particular thing belongs to you. It all starts with scribbling your name on your school desk, writing your name on your backpack, or pasting an image of your favorite superhero on your locker. You probably remember what it was like customizing your first motorbike or your father’s car when you got hold of it.
Well, that was when you weren’t old enough or had enough money to buy yourself a car. Then came the final frontier of customization; personalized license plates bolted to the front and back of your car. Some took this opportunity a step further either to make a statement or to just irk people. Here is a list of 10 weird license plates and their backstories.
1. A gray BMW sedan with a “COVID 19” license plate has been left unattended for over four months at the Adelaide airport. Its owner contacted the airport staff after the picture of the car was published in several newspapers.
The expensive sedan was sitting in the parking lot at the airport and was unnoticed until one day its cover was blown, so to speak. An airport worker’s attention was captured by the car’s unique, but curiously weird license plate. It read “COVID 19.” He took a picture of the car and shared it on his social media. The internet went into a frenzy. People started posting funny comments about the number plate. According to the worker, the car had been parked there since before February. Initially, everyone thought that it belonged to a long-haul pilot who hasn’t returned.
After the image of the car was splashed onto the newspapers around the world, the owner got in touch with the airport staff. He told them that they were out of state. Meanwhile, in the months since its discovery, it was found out that the car is registered until the end of September 2020. In South Australia, personalized license plates are registered for a period of 12 to 36 months. That means the car’s license plate was registered in September 2019, long before the current pandemic was given its name. (1, 2)
2. A man from California got his car registered as “NULL” to circumvent California’s DMV ticketing system. Instead, he got served with a $12,000 fine.
At a DEFCON conference, a security researcher from California boasted about his new vanity plates “NULL.” He thought that having it as his vehicle registration would fool California’s DMV ticketing system and protect him from having to pay for his traffic violation tickets. His weird license plate though got him into an even weirder situation. It began with a small ticket for a parking infraction. That led the system to establish a link between the license plate recorded as “NULL” to his address.
The system then assigned every parking ticket, where the number plate was missing, in his name. Soon, he found himself at the receiving end of a total fine of $12,000. Although the authorities removed the fine, he was asked to change his registration. He hasn’t yet carried out the change and is still receiving tickets. (source)
3. A Chinese man spent $145,000 on acquiring a vanity license plate with the number “88888.” He got pulled over eight times on the very first day he took out his vehicle. Incidentally, the number “8” is considered very lucky in Chinese culture.
Every culture around the world has its lucky charms and trinkets. In Chinese culture, the number “8” is considered one of the luckiest. The pronunciation of the number sounds a lot like the Mandarin word for “prosperity” and “wealth.” A man from Zhenzhou in central China, however, faced the other side of luck with that number. Kai Long, a fruit seller, bought a new car to aid in his fruit selling business. He then decided to add some luck to it. Kai spent a whopping one million yuan (approximately $145,000) to buy the luckiest license plate with five 8s for his new vehicle. But, when he took his vehicle out for the very first time, he was stopped by traffic police 8 times.
The police thought that the license plate ought to be fake as acquiring it would be very expensive. Something a mere fruit seller cannot afford. Kai was let go after they ascertained that all his papers were in order. He didn’t get into any trouble, but it didn’t pan out like the first drive he hoped for. (source)
4. A vintage Mercedes from south London had a license plate that read “BRX541T.” Its owner, who was oblivious to the intended meaning, received a lot of flak from onlookers.
Paul Vinter, from south London, loves classic cars. He bought the vintage 1979 Mercedes 450 SLC from a dealer on eBay. It was love at first sight for him. Paul didn’t pay any heed to the license plate until it was pointed out to him one day. It was then that he noticed the meaning of the license plate “BRX541T”. Paul dismisses it as just a coincidence telling people that he is a “Remainer” and not a BREXIT supporter.
Though, he is still finding people waving at him, pointing at him, and even giving him the side-eye. Paul is now planning on changing the registration or selling the weird license plate to Nigel Farage. (source)
5. Lorne Grabher, a man from Canada, registered a personalized license place in his surname. “GRABHER” is what his license plate reads.
In 2016 an anonymous person registered a complaint with the Department of Motor Vehicles in Canada against a weird license plate. The complainant said that the plate reading “GRABHER” is derogatory towards women. Acting upon the complaint the Department canceled Grabher’s personalized license plate. DMV first approved the license plate in 1990.
It has been renewed several times since without any issue. Lorne Grabher is now appealing against the court ruling on the grounds that it is discriminatory and violates his freedom of expression. (source)