The Great Plate Auction 1985


The Great Plate Auction, Sunday October 13, 1985

The Great Plate Auction was held by the SA Government in 1985, the event taking place in the front ballroom of the Hilton Hotel.

The auction catalogue in it’s layout and design was an exact copy of an earlier auction held by the WA government where a range of WA plates were offered to the public.

The SA auction had 343 lots with approximately 465 plates offered- ranging in historic plates, the first and only issue of “Classic Name” plates, and finally a range of Jubilee numbers.

Lots 1-5 “Starter Series” – plates 111, 222, 666, 777, 888 (five plates offered).

Lots 6- 44 “Historic Numbers” – low plates such as 3, 6, 9, 14, 18, 26, 27 and other two digit plates up to plate 101. NOTE: as some numbers at this time were not available to the government as they were still registered on cars, not all numbers were up to 101 were sold (thirty-nine plates offered).

Lots 45- 86 “Distinctive Numbers” – a range of plates with distinctive or striking numeric combinations, such as 2222, 7777, 11-111, 300, 400, 600, 1000, 100-000, 123, 1234 and 2468 were in this group (twenty-nine plates offered).

Lots 87- 150 “Foundation Series” – this group of plates display a date of historic significance, essentially they are “year” plates. The group’s lowest plate was 1836 and the highest 2009 (64 plates offered).

Lots 151 to 201 “Classic Name Series”- this series of plates features car manufacturer’s names, ranging from “BMW” (the least number of letters) to Lamborghini (the most characters on a plate in SA). There were some subsequent name plates offered that were not listed in the auction catalogue (fifty-one plates plus several supplementary plates offered to total approx. sixty plates offered).

Lots 202-275 “Jubilee Series”- to mark the SA Jubilee year, two special sets of numbers with three distinctive digits plus either “J” or “S” were auctioned (72 plates offered in total).


Lots 276 - 311 “Classic Name Series” – this grouping of three digit numbers highlighted the model numbers of different manufacturer’s cars, cubic inch engine capacities as well as some distinctive numbers (36 plates offered).

In Lots 312-329 there were 80 plates offered, in numeric groupings where the winning bidder could purchase one or all of the plates (some lots had 3 plates, some had 4, some five and one had six grouped plates) in the group for the price bid, multiplied by the bid price per plate. Untaken lots were reoffered and if not sold went back into the Government’s inventory post auction.


Supplementary List- Lots No. 330-343- there were around 65 additional plates offered as late inclusions in the auction which were provided as a Supplementary List,  covering Lots No. 330-343. These late lots were four and five digit numbers, again offered in matched groupings.