SA Government Historic Plate Tenders and Auctions 1991-2016


SA Government Historic Plate Auction , Ending 22 February, 2016.


SA Government Historic Plate Auction , Ending 2 November 2015.


SA Government Historic Plate Auction , Ending 17 June 2015, 150 plated offered:

SA Government Historic Plate Auction , Ending September 9, 2014.


The following Historic plates were offered via auction by the SA Government

in September 2014.

Results are as follows:

SA Government Historic Plate Auction , May 28 2014.


The following Historic plates were offered via auction by the SA Government

on 28.5.14.

Results are as follows:



Government 5 and 6-digit Historic Plate Online Auction , April 2014.


The following Historic 5 and 6-digit plates were offered via online auction by the SA Government

in May 2014.


Results pending:



Government 6-digit Historic Plate Online Auction , October 2013.


The following Historic 6-digit plates were offered via online auction by the SA Government

from 9.10.13 with the auctionbeing completed on 16.10.13.

Results are as follows, with 20 of the 100 plates offered selling:

Government Historic Plate Auction , 2013.



Government Historic Plate Auction , 2012.


Government Historic Plate Auction review, 22.5.11





The 2011 Government Auction was held on 22.5.11 on a wet day at the Convention Centre.




Six lots were passed in, the lowest sale was $3300 for SA “230-240” and the highest was for SA “454”, as we had predicted.





In all, several clients said to me they thought the prices were quite cheap, and in the main seemed to be down on the results we achieved in February 2011 at our The Great Plate Auction event.


The desirable 3-digits were the exception to this generalisation, as several of our clients and existing 3-digit owners invested in new numbers.



The five x 3-digits sold had prices ranging from

$17,000 for SA “936”, sold to a client of ours

SA”858” - $18,800 sold to a client of ours

SA”775”- $19,200 sold to a client of ours

SA “637” - $18,200

to the $30,400 paid for SA “454”. SA “454” has a very interesting history, to story of which we will tell in detail soon. Essentially, the original owner bought his number “back” and it shall remain on the low mileage & local from new MG sports car onto which it has been registered since 1955. Bidding started at $20,000 and was hotly contested, well done to the buyer in securing his number- Bravo.


Several 4-digits presented interesting buying with SA “1829” the highest priced at $8100, and SA “3776” well bought at the lowest price on the day for a 4-digit at $5600. It would appear the 4-digit Historic Plates had a reserve of $5,500, the 5-digits $3,500 and the 6-digit Historic Plates $3,000.


At The Great Plate Auction in Feb we achieved a starter entry level price of $6,750 + fees for our 4-digit plates (SA “1242”) and a 4-digit high of $10,750 + fees for SA “1250”, further underlining that the market will pay for quality plates. It also shows how exceptional our auction results were, and our recent  post February auction 4-digit sales have been on the upper end of this range supporting this general range for 4-digits . All our recent sales of 4-digit plates have been higher than those achieved by the Government today.


The Great Plate Auction 3-digits ranged from an entry level of $15,500 + fees up to the exceptional under the hammer price of $32,500 for SA “180”- a record as the highest price anyone in SA has ever paid under the hammer for a 3-digit plate. Our post auction sale of SA “911” for an undisclosed price was also a record for a 3-digit, again showing the market will pay for quality. Several of our post auction sales of 3-digits have been at this level, again showing our client base and thus the market will pay for special, low number or unique 3-digit plates. Such examples of 3-digits we have sold are some of the best 3-digit numbers to come on the market in years are SA "151", SA "600", SA "900" and SA "375", all of which we as have sold for exceptional prices in the past few weeks. 


As a result of our February 2011 The Great Plate Auction, the SA Historic Plate market has grown and developed and the results for the 3-digits at today’s Government auction show that at a minimum $17,000 seems to be the entry level price for a 3-digit. The historic Plate market has moved on from the $10-11,000 that 3-digit plates at the 2009 and 2010 Government auctions made, as a result in part of the work we have done in the marketplace, a wider awareness of plates, a lessening of supply of plates and a desire by existing plate owners and new investors to secure a 3-digit plate. We still think there is room for capital appreciation in 3-digit Historic Plates in particular.


There were many “old car” and “family” non-descript numbers sold on the day, with some not making reserve showing a “plain” number has a quite limited market, and that the market prefers sequential, neat, interesting numbers. SA “777-717” made the highest price on the day for a 6-digit.





 * PI denotes Passed In

We have some interesting entries already received for the next The Great Plate Auction live auction event, stay  tuned to SA's only plate website for more exciting Historic Plate news and low Historic Plates for sale.







Previous Government Tenders and Auctions:




The first Government Historic Plates Tender, 1991



In the first competitive offering of historic plates since The Great Plate Auction 1985, the Government decided to offer a series of plates via closed tender, ending in September 1991. The following historic plates were offered:
























SA15 headlined the offer, a plate purchased very astutely by a client of ours at this tender. There were two other two digit plates, SA30 which sold and SA86 which did not meet reserve.

It seems historic plate SA86 and several other plates didn't meet "reserve" in this tender and post closing the Department of Transport nominated a price and offered them to any enquirees. I have some notes dated 8.9.1992 that list SA86, SA410, SA510 and SA690 as still available for sale, almost 12 months after the inital public tender was initiated.


I noted that SA86 could have been bought for $5000 at this time- I had found it on an old car and had attempted to purchase it personally, however was uspurped by the government under the "five year" rule who then offered it for public sale, one of the great "could have beens". Of course, retrospectively this plate was a bargain. The three digit plates were on offer for $1800, and I noted on the list that they "were the last 0 ending three digits left".

I have in my possesion an old list that was issued to me in August 1991 by the Department of Transport. At the same time as this Public Tender, the following plates were made available, for a pre-determined fee, to interested purchasers on a "first-come-first-served" basis.

SA4444 was offered, although this plate seems to have been subsequently removed from being offered. Most liekly was sold immediately it was released and was crossed off the list.

SA4100, SA4200, SA5900, SA6900, SA7300, SA7800, SA7900, SA8100, SA8700,SA9200, and SA9800 were all offered for $1000; my notes reveal that the first of this series to have been sold (they are crossed outon my list) were SA1300, SA1800, SA2200 (a lovely even historic number) and SA8900.





The Second Government Historic Plates Tender, April 1993




SA7 was the only single didgit plate to have been offered since the three plates SA3, SA6 and SA9 were auctioned in 1985, & was offered by closed tender in April 1993.


SA7 was offered by the Department of Transport and was astutely bought by a client of through the competitive closed tender.


This plate was offered after it's registration to a trailer had lapsed for the requisite five year period. It had been held by the same family from 1906 through to 1967, whereupon the advent of Alpha-Numeric plates prevented it from being transferred from car to car by this family (link to our Register of SA Historic Plates here


A brilliant historic plate, it's purchase via the closed tender in 1993 is amongst the most astute investments in historic plates anyone has ever made.



The Third Government Historic Plates Tender, April 1994: the last historic plates offered by tender




Headlining this tender SA94 and SA900 were offered for public tender via Special Plates Services, with offers to buy ending on 29th April 1994.


The Advertiser carried several advertisements in April 1994 for the third and last offer of Historic Plates by the SA Government via tender.  This tender offer of plates coincided with the Adelaide International Motor Show, where the Government had a stand promoting new custom plates and the tender.


I believe that SA94 was the last two digit number to have been offered by the then Department of Transport to the public, the remainder of two digits having been either sold at the Great Plate Auction in 1985, obtained directly for the department by registered owners of vehicles, during 1985-1994, or finally having still been registered on old vehicles and not "obtained".


Also featuring prominently on the Department of Transport's advertising was SA900. Clearly, by this stage many of the distinctive and low historic plates had been taken up or sold.


Around this time I can recall having access to the master file of historic plates that was kept on old school A3 computer paper reams, and remember by then that most of the two digits historics that were ever going to be sold had been so. The remaining plates that were registered on a variety of cars, bikes and trailers were clearly marked with the registration expiry dates  highlighted. However, by this stage most owners knew to keep low historic plates regsitered on vehicles and SA94 was the last two digit plate to be offered to the public, having previously been on a vehicle whose registration had expired for over 5 years. Once this had ocurred the plate was resumed by the registration authorities and then tendered in april 1994.

Interestingly, the actual plates that the Government promoted for these three tenders were the default historic plates available at the time. The outstanding 1985 enamel style auction plates were no longer available from the WA manufacturer, so a replica of these plates was offered; an alloy base plate with a black PVC film over the top and PVC "SA" and the plate's numerals adhered to the top of the plate. Although oficially offered by the government and thus "official issue" plates, today these physical plates may be viewed as illegal, despite the fact they were endorsed by the Department of Transport and available to plate owners via their registration offices.



The Government historic numberplate auction, 2008 :


In 2008 the government held their first live numberplate auction since the 1985 Great Plate Auction. The event was held at Wayville showgrounds and coincided with the Adelaide Motor Show, held in April.

Sixty plates were offered, the highest price being achieved for SA271, at $20400 + fees.



Historic Plate

Price Paid Plus fees


Historic Plate

Price Paid Plus fees


$   8,000



$   4,200


$   8,600



$   7,000


$   8,700



$   3,800


$   7,100



$   4,000


$   7,922



$   3,800


$   6,900



$   8,000


$   3,200



$   6,400


$   3,100



$   7,000


$   4,100



$ 10,000


$   5,000



$ 12,200


$   3,500



$ 13,800


$   3,800



$   6,600


$   4,900



$   4,500


$   4,500



$   5,000


$   3,400



$   4,000


$   4,000



$   5,500


$   5,100



$   6,900


$   9,200



$   5,200


$   7,400



$   5,500


$   6,800



$   6,300


$   8,200



$   5,400


$ 11,000



$   7,100


$   9,400



$   8,000


$ 11,000



$   7,600


$   4,200



$ 15,200


$   4,200



$ 14,000


$   3,800



$ 13,600


$   4,000



$ 13,400


$   4,100



$ 15,600


$   4,100



$ 20,400


The second Government historic plate auction, 2009

In 2009 the second recent auction of plates took place, with forty historic plates offered to the public by the authorities.



Plate  Price Paid Plus fees   Plate  Price Paid Plus fees
802  $ 10,800   811118  $   5,000
769  $ 11,600   777444  $   4,600
744  $ 11,800   717717  $   4,400
9393  $   5,200   711800  $   3,600
8880  $   6,200   2484  $   5,200
70070  $   5,600   2299  $   6,000
64911  $   4,200   26006  $   4,000
52200  $   5,000   24440  $   4,200
993993  $   4,200   21001  $   4,000
909606  $   3,200   20024  $   3,400
898898  $   4,000   323000  $   3,800
6444  $   5,200   224224  $   4,000
4742  $   5,200   100755  $   4,000
4339  $   5,000   2025  $   5,200
610  $ 13,800   1935  $   8,000
584  $ 13,400   1412  $   7,000
556  $ 13,800   491  $ 12,800
44111  $   4,200   483  $ 11,800
31111  $   5,000   397  $ 13,600
26264  $   3,600   362  $ 13,200





Third Government Historic Plate Auction, 2010








Plate   Price Paid

SA "949"        $10,200    SOLD
925        15,800    SOLD
6420       4,900    PASSED IN
5885       8,200    SOLD
99-911     7,400    SOLD
98-765     5,200    SOLD
989-989    4,200    SOLD
838-838    5,000    SOLD
666-999    5,400    SOLD
633-007    3,700    SOLD
804        12,800    SOLD
779        11,200    SOLD
5557       5,500    SOLD
4747       7,000    SOLD
88-999     5,800    SOLD
66-999     4,400    SOLD
555-333    4,300    SOLD
440-727    7,000    SOLD
768        10,000    SOLD
693        12,600    SOLD
4156        5,300    SOLD
3553       8,400    SOLD
35-605     3,600    SOLD
33-888     5,600    SOLD
222-111    5,200    SOLD
188-487    3,300    SOLD
681        11,200    SOLD
579        11,600    SOLD
2121       7,600    SOLD
1884       5,800    SOLD
25-252     3,800    SOLD
20-310     3,900    SOLD
111-888    5,800    SOLD
100-888    5,600    SOLD
18-155     3,800    SOLD
13-232     4,200    SOLD
1475       7,400    SOLD
1424        6,000    SOLD
557        12,000    SOLD
451        13,600    SOLD


Market Report compiled 2.5.10, post 2010 SA Gov’t historic plate auction

I’ve done a post auction review, and conclude that three digit plates comparatively remain the best investment, and here is why.

So, why go to $8400 on historic plate 3553, yes, a nice numeral combination, when for a few thousand more you could secure 768 for $10 000. 440-727 was only three grand less than 949; yes it will look great on a vintage Mopar but I believe this three digit will be $20k long before that plate doubles in value to $14000.

Again, I reiterate that there are 900 000 six digits, 9000 four digit’s potentially available yet only 900 three digits.

So, I think the three digits were undervalued and those four digits at anything above $5500 were overpriced compared to the prices the lower three digit’s sold at.

In terms of the numbers themselves the following plates were in my opinion the “best” offered:

681: I love plates with “1” as they are neat and 6’s and 8’s are Cantonese lucky numbers so this was my favourite plate of the day.

Another favourite: 557 and 5557- a nice pair if they were bought as such

768: a $10 grand three digit and the cheapest 3 digit of the day

949: $10 200 and the “neatest” 3-dig offered- probably the best buy of the day

All the rest of the three digits- just look to VIC and NSW to see what the 3-dig's have done over there investment growth wise

Two bidders clearly wanted 925 to take it to $15 800; this is a nice three digit number and was bought by a client of mine who had to have it- liked the “working 9-2-5” connotations and hilariously it is destined for a new 997 Porsche Turbo.


666-999: I’m not about to explain it if you don’t know why- a nice symmetrical plate

222-111 and 111-888

555-333 and 3553: if bought as a pair they were a nice set, but too much extra was paid for the four digit to have represented value compared to the three digits.

99-911: as an all pervading rule I don’t favour five digit plates (except of course the premium investment grade five digit plates with recurring numbers  such as 11-111 or something like 10-000 etc) as the mandatory dash unbalances the plate visually. Having said this Porsche plates are always highly demanded especially anything “911”.

There’s and old auction adage, the first lots always retrospectively are the “bargains” as human nature has people waiting to see what tone is set early for the rest of the auction, letting the first lots go relatively uncontested......fortune favours the bold, and the early bidders usually always get a bargain. Refer plate 949 above.

Remember, in 2009 the nice number 802 was the first lot sold and was the cheapest three digit on the day at $10 800. Conversely, the final lots usually go higher as people fear missing out on making a purchase.

There seemed to be a couple of “requested” numbers such as 188-487 that someone must have wanted and these comparatively unremarkable but nice all the same plates were well bought thus.

Once up my site will have a much more thorough grading system, which I have written based on sales and experience.....stay tuned.

But here is my take on today.

In general, now with three public government plate auctions held over a three year period, and importantly with no 10% transfer fees payable at these sales, one can conclude  as at May 2010 the open market is paying the following:

NOTE: two digit, low and distinctive three digit, special, low, sequential, repeating, even and model specific historic plates should be thought of as a different market and are excluded from this “generalised” list:

$10 000 and up for three digits. No real movement here and an investment grade opportunity IMHO. These will be looked upon as well bought in the future.

$5000-8500 for four digits. I think these have moved up slightly but with 9 000 potential plates there may have been some over bidding- the old supply versus demand nexus- people on the day not wanting to go home empty handed.

$4000-7000 for five digits. Again, I think there has been some over bidding given there are 90 000 potential plates available, but in a pure market economy the price has been set on the day and folks have spoken with their chequebooks. Again, the three digit numbers look very attractive comparatively.

$3000- 6000 for six-digits. I think 440-727 was an anomaly so this is the range for these – bearing in mind there are 900 000 possible plates available here!

One plate was passed in – plate 6240 at $4900- a relatively unremarkable number but this shows the Government do set reserves. The plate should have been re-offered at the auction’s end where it likely would have made another hundred more which probably was its reserve.