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Happy sixth birthday, son, here's a pounds 331,500 car plate.

Byline: BY GRAHAM DAVIES Daily Post Staff

A SIX-YEAR-OLD boy is the owner of Cheshire's first ever number plate after his father paid out a record-breaking pounds 331,500 for it.

The mystery North West bidder bought the item as a birthday present for his son in an auction, at more than twice the asking price.

The plate, M1, was previously owned by Tatton Park. It had been expected to fetch between pounds 80,000 and pounds 120,000 when it was sold by Bonhams at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in Chichester.

Jon Baddeley, Bonhams director and auctioneer, made the sale. He said the appeal of a personalised number plate was its exclusivity.

He said: "The registration M1 has huge appeal, not only as one of the earliest registrations issued, but also one with a fabulous history.

"A lot of people like to have their own initials. Then there are the ones that spell out a name, which can cost up to pounds 100,000.

"The rarest of the rare are those with just one letter and one digit. This is one of the first 30-odd number plates in the country.

"It's the highest price paid for a registration plate in the world."

Yesterday's bidding started at pounds 50,000 and there were at least five interested parties. The new owner made his successful bid over the telephone.

M1 was the first registration for the County of Cheshire and has only been used on three vehicles.

In 1902, it was acquired by Maurice, fourth Lord Egerton, a motoring enthusiast and owner of Tatton Park, in Knutsford, for a 1903 12/16hp two-cylinder Darracq - the same car driven by Henri Farman when he came second in the 1901 Grand Prix de Pau.

In 1920, Lord Egerton's son, also Maurice, inherited Tatton Park and his father's cars, including a 1900 Benz Comfortable, which he asked his mechanic, Charlie Blake, to restore.

In 1924, the plate was allocated to the Benz, where it remains, displayed in the grounds.

Cheshire County Council and the National Trust, which jointly owned the plate, sold the rights to the registration, allowing it on the road again.

Although the car will continue to sport the M1 plate in the grounds, it will be replaced with the registration BS9703 when it ventures on to the road.

The price paid at the auction is pounds 46,500 more than the pounds 285,000 paid for VIP1, the number plate made for Pope John Paul II. The plate, which was made for the Popemobile during a tour of Ireland in 1979, was purchased by Russian billionaire and Chelsea FC owner Roman Abramovich.

graham.davies@liverpool.com

CAPTION(S):

Maurice Egerton owned the plate in 1902' Laura Turnbull holds the registration plate M1
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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Jul 8, 2006
Words:462
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