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Pricey License Plates

In China, license plates are issued randomly, just like here in the US. However, there are auctions held for more desirable plates so the superstitious and very wealthy can claim the best of the best. The number 8 is now widely considered to be lucky and 4 to be unlucky, especially among those who are Confucian. The Mandarin word for the number 8 is “bā”, which is close to the word “fā” meaning, ”to be rich.” This means that many flock to the plate auctions in hopes of scoring a new plate full of 8s.

Since these license plates are in such high demand, the prices tend to be quite exorbitant. While some purchase the plates for a feeling of luck and safety, some purchase them just as a flashy decoration for their luxury cars. Nowadays, they are a status symbol of sorts.

To understand just how important these license plates are, let me share some mind boggling examples:

  • In 2006, a man in the city of Hangzhou placed an ad on the internet offering to sell his plate, A88888, for about $140,000.

  • In 2008, a wealthy man named Xu paid 4 men to guard the machine that issues new license plates at the Beijing vehicle registration center so he could claim 4 new plates ending in “8888.” The men used knives and clubs to beat several people that attempted to use the machine.

  • In August 2014, a bidder name To purchased the license plate number “BZ8” for HK$43,000 (US $5547.78) because he liked that it sounded like “busy” and included the lucky number 8. He hopes it means that he will always have work and it will bring him prosperity. The license plate "EY4444" - where "4" is pronounced similarly to the Chinese character "death" - was up for sale too, but got no bidders.

Have you gone to great lengths to acquire a specific license plate?

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