Rare number plates in SA: Joost's lucky 'No. 9' part of R2.5-million auction

<b>SPRINGBOK LEGEND: </b>Springbok great Joost van der Westhuizen adds his '9-GP' number plates to complete a unique collection up for auction in Johannesburg. <i>Image: Wheels24 / Stephan Welz & Co</i>
<b>SPRINGBOK LEGEND: </b>Springbok great Joost van der Westhuizen adds his '9-GP' number plates to complete a unique collection up for auction in Johannesburg. <i>Image: Wheels24 / Stephan Welz & Co</i>

Johannesburg - Springbok great Joost van der Westhuizen has added his 9-GP car registration number to complete unique collection of nine personalised number plates expected to fetch at least R2.5-million at an auction in Johannesburg (November 22 - 23).

Describing the collection - 1-GP to 9-GP - as “South Africa’s most valuable number plates”, auction house Stephan Welz & Co estimates that Van der Westhuizen’s number plate, bearing the same number as his No.9 rugby jersey, will attract bids of between R120 000 and R150 000 if sold on its own.

Stephan Welz & Co originally planned to auction a set of eight plates - 1-GP to 8-GP - with an estimated value of at least R2-million. However, as news of the sale spread, the legendary scrumhalf decided to include his 9-GP number plate in the auction, raising the estimated price of the complete collection to R2.5-million.

A Springbok legend

Ranked among the all-time greats of rugby, Van der Westhuizen has for several years been confined to a wheelchair suffering from a rare motor neuron disease for which there is still no cure. He is currently part of a medical trial for a drug that may help combat the disease.

READ: 'Mandela GP' to be sold: 10 prized SA licence plates could fetch millions

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Peter van der Westhuizen, Joost's brother, said: "Joost can no longer drive his car, so when we heard about the auction we decided to offer his number plate. We’re hoping for a high price, which will really help him."

The value of plates

How valuable are plates in SA? Stephan Welz & Co sold CA 3 in Cape Town for R378 000 a few years ago. However, the auction house’s classic car specialist Jack Rosewitz points out that with Gauteng having the largest motoring population and highest concentration of wealth in the country, GP special numbers are in high demand, with astute investors already having secured as much as R500 000 for desirable number combinations.

South Africa is following the international trend in which personalised number plates have become prized possessions with growing status, social and investment value.

More than 500 000 personalised plates have been sold in South Africa, exceeding the most optimistic projections by the Department of Transport, which has generated more than R500-million in revenue from people who pay a premium to buy their special numbers.

In the United Kingdom, the number plate K1NGS has sold for £231 000 and RR1 for £75 000. As far back as 1989 in New Zealand, the single character number plate "1" sold at the first auction of its kind for NZ$34 100. In 1991 it was resold for NZ$111 375 and in 1995 resold again for a staggering NZ$630 000. 

The world record price for a number plate was set in 1994 in Hong Kong with the sale of the number plate "8" for $1-million (US), almost R14-million.

Wheels24 reader Lukas Kilian says: Joost is and will always be an iconic scrum half, the best in the world. I will be so honoured and the luckiest man on earth if I was the owner of that number plate. Fight on Joost, we pray for you and your family. 

Image: AFP / Odd Andersen

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