Hefty price tag for plates

FACEBK is on the market for $1.2 million.

Not to be confused with the world's largest social media website, expected to be worth as much as $100 billion by the end of the year, FACEBK is a personalised Victorian number plate.

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Its current owner, Ballarat-based web developer Tai Tran, is selling the plates for $1.2 million on the internet along with another, PAYPAL, for a mere million.

Mr Tran, who has owned FACEBK for about four years and PAYPAL for about six, is yet to hear from any interested buyers but said the plates had only been up for grabs for a month and said he was confident someone would pay the asking price.

"I think so because if they pay $1.2 million they are going to sell it for $1.5 million," he said.

"It's not for everybody, it's more for investors or an internet entrepreneur. Gold is only a lump of metal, the only thing that makes it valuable is it's rare."

The appeal of personalised plates tends to divide people but there is no questioning their popularity, with VicRoads selling about 50,000 new sets of customised plates each year.

Mr Tran's plates are among thousands being sold on dedicated websites where personalised plates range in price from hundreds of dollars to hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Among other pricey plates currently for sale in Victoria are:

DARTH, aimed at Star Wars fans, for $300,000;

The sentimental MYDADS, for $500,000;

MJKSON for $100,000;

BKRUPT for $950,000;

HRMSUP, said to be pervert in Cantonese, for $100,000;

Heritage plate 81 for $295,000;

EZY for $100,000; and, the seemingly bargain-priced,

REDTO4 for $100.

Those price-tags compare reasonably favourably to that on the world's most expensive licence plate - "1" in Abu Dhabi sold in 2008 for $15 million.

In recent years, VicRoads has sold several plates form more than $100,000 but its record remains for the number '1', sold by the then Road Traffic Authority, for $164,000 in 1984.

VicRoads has introduced different themes, including AFL teams, Looney Tunes and DC Comic Superheroes, to keep up with demand and uses the money raised to fund road improvement and safety projects.

VicRoads Custom Plates manager Alan Morecroft said some people bought customised plates to be different while others considered them an investment or a collector's item.

Many online sellers have numerous plates for sale but Mr Tran said FACEBK and PAYPAL were the first he had put on the market.

He originally bought the PAYPAL plate for $350 on eBay and paid $500 to VicRoads for FACEBK but believes time has rapidly increased their value.

FACEBK has been gracing his Kia Spectra (although for the advertisement he photoshopped the plates onto a Porsche) and Mr Tran said the plates always attracted plenty of attention.

"When we pull up, people take photos of the number plate ... you get a lot of eyeballs," he said.

In his advertisement, Mr Tran describes the FACEBK plate as a "truly winning asset" that will have "internet savvy investors salivating".

He plans to give 20 per cent of any money made on the plates to four children's charities.

Mr Morecroft said buyers paid for the right to display the plate on a car of their choice but registration numbers remained the property of the state of Victoria.

He said anyone considering buying second-hand plates should contact VicRoads first.

"We can tell you the status of the plates and potentially save you from any disappointment," he said.

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