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Very Special? Swiss number plate breaks auction record

(Keystone)

Would you pay CHF160,100 ($158,800) for a licence plate? A bidder made the record offer for “VS 1” on Tuesday – five minutes before the month-long auction closed.

Very Special? Vain Show-off? Victoria’s Secret? In fact, the VS represents canton Valais. Swiss vehicle registration plates comprise a two-letter codeexternal link for the canton followed by up to six digits. The plate on the back of the vehicle also shows small shields representing the flags of Switzerland and the canton.

Until now, the Swiss record was CHF135,000 for “SG 1”, bought by a driver presumably from canton St Gallen.

Valais began the auction of sought-after number plates on February 15, with a reserve price of CHF10,000 for “VS 1”. That turned out to be a low estimate. CHF16,400 was bid on the first day, CHF45,000 on the second and CHF110,100 on the third. Someone bid CHF160,000 on February 23 – the winning offer until five minutes before the end of the auction on Tuesday, when someone pipped the previous bidder by CHF100.

In future, the plan is to auction 60 car plates and 36 motorbike plates a year. Over the next decade, the canton expects the auctions to generate around CHF1 million, which will go towards the cantonal structural deficit.

Although CHF150,000 might seem a lot for a number plate, it’s small change compared with the world recordexternal link of 52.2 million dirhams (CHF14.4 million) paid by an Emirati businessman in 2008 for the minimalist “1”. 

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