Is there any acceptable reason to have a personalised numberplate?
I pondered the above question as I walked to the (excellent) Concours of Elegance at Hampton Court last weekend and an assortment of exotic cars drove up the road and into the car park with their look-at-me registrations.
I’ll admit that I wrestled a little with my conscience as I looked on disdainfully - they’ve bought the car, after all, so why can’t they do what they want with it? And if I’m happy to defend a McLaren-buying billionaire for painting his new car fuchsia for exactly that reason, why should I curl a lip at a personalised numberplate?
Yet, almost without exception, I find them an irritating addendum, an exercise in willy-waving while also taking attention from the car itself, which at the rarefied end of the market at least, should always be the centre of attention.
Sometimes they are unfathomable, meaningless to all but their owner, which prompts me to wonder why they bothered buying it in the first place. At other times they are so obvious in their intentions that, to my mind, they offer nothing more than an unendearingly cartoonish air to proceedings, or end up looking like a mobile advert for the car maker.