The story of Historic Plate SA "1"



SA '1' Update:

Here are two rare images of SA '1'.

When first registered to Hargreaves, circa 1906-7:

All rights Reserved.

And the 1952 Ford van this Historic Plate is currently registered to:

All rights Reserved.


SA '1'

We've recently spoken with the registered owners of the brilliant plate SA "1". It has quite an incredible history, part of which we have captured following; we are planning on expanding on this in the near future.

The incredible history was verified by family members and the plate's registered owner; for example the car today actually wears a set of c.1921 issued numberplates, that have been on this car since approximately 1960 when it was first registered. Incredible history.


Keep an eye on our site for more information and for more of the tale about SA "1".


SA"1" Today


Why we may never see SA1 on our roads.....and why for plates under 200 what we’ve now got is what we’ve got.


One of the most asked questions of is- where is plate SA1? At we know exactly where it is and it has one of the most fascinating histories of any plates in SA.

Most plate enthusiasts are interested, indeed most South Australian’s are curious to the whereabouts of good  ol’ No 1.

Sadly, we may likely never see this plate on a car in regular use in SA.


Why this is the case, is a complicated tale, but if you’re a plate enthusiast you’ll likely be interested.


Here’s my researched and educated take on the scenario.


Firstly, we need to go back to 1906 when SA1 was first issued. As we’ve written earlier, each individual plate was issued to a motor car, a motorcycle and finally a trailer, at or around the same time. So, at any one moment three classes of vehicle could have been operating in SA with the “same” number.

Now, Plate SA1 being of great interest,  the owners kept the plates on each of the three vehicle-types registered....from the plates original issuance in 1906 right through the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, up to the release of the Proprietary Right Great Plate Auction in 1985.

I believe that historic plate SA1 was transferred sometime in the 1950’s to a business vehicle, and this vehicle still bears the SA1 registration number to this day. However, we believe the number is also registered on a trailer and potentially a motorcycle too.

So, in order for an individual to obtain the SA 1 historic plate, one would need to purchase all the vehicles that plate 1 is registered to, and obtain a transfer of the plate into their name via the Department of Transport.

However, the Department of Transport have declared that Historic Plates will only be auctioned off in the future, and that they will no longer allow the issue of Class Specific or Proprietary Rights to an owner of a vehicle with a Historic Plate; nor will they allow transfer of a plate without rights from an original/old owner to a new owner.

So, when these vehicles that have SA1 registered to them change ownership, they will immediately forfeit plate SA1 upon any transferral of the paperwork from old owner to new owner.

The registrants of SA1 know this, and simply will keep their vehicles registered, paid up and in their names; thus preventing the plate from “disappearing” into the Department of Transport’s system.

So, in effect there is a standoff between the registered owners of SA1 and the Government Department.

Other low plates too, we understand, are in a similar situation.


But, the story for SA1 and other low historic plates doesn’t end there.

When the first Grand Prix was held in 1985 a series of commemorative “Black” GP plates, in numbers 1-199, was issued. See our page on Grand Prix plates here:

The Department of Transport at the time issued these GP plates with ”Proprietary Rights” to each number- in effect the same “rights” to the “same” number that were allocated to Historic class plates at the original Great Plate Auction.

There have been several legal challenges to the Department of Transport from Historic Plate owners who, in their mind, had the SOLE rights, the PROPRIETARY rights, to a specific number. That is, it was their understanding at the time of purchase that they secured the sole, proprietary, singular, only use of a specific number on a plate in SA.

However, for example plate 3 has been issued with Rights in both the GP Black and Historic essentially there are two cars registered in plate number 3 in SA. Yes, the plates themselves are different, the plate styles are different, but the challenge to the Department of Transport is that the numerals, the actual number (in this case no 3) is the “same”.

We understand that the Department of Transport has had Crown Solicitor advice to never again issue duplicates of any one number that corresponds to those GP plates sold in the range 1-199; the numbers that correspond to those numbers in the black GP series.


So, even if SA1 was to become available due to a lapse of registration of the vehicles it is registered too, or if ownership was transferred, it would never be sold at auction due to this duplicity of the black GP and historic numbers 1-199.

This rule rings true for other low historic numbers under 199 that to this day have not had Class Specific or Proprietary Rights previously issued. Indeed, any historic plate that is without full rights but is registered on an old car can now no longer be applied for and purchased directly from the Government.

This same Crown solicitor advice, we understand, has led to the concurrent change in rules now preventing white GP plates (sold and issued in the range 200-9999) from being re-sold and transferred to new owners. Again, there are duplicate Historic Plates that had full proprietary/class specific rights purchased for these numbers from 1985 to the present day.


So, today the lowest historic number in SA that has had full rights purchased to it is plate SA "3"; and the “lowest” number extant in SA that any rights have been sold to is plate GP "1".