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The 7 Most Expensive License Plates Available In California

With an economy rivaling most nations, California’s license plate values compete on a global scale.

Fifty years ago, in 1972, California began offering personalized license plates for cars owned by residents and businesses. In 2015, California changed their rules to allow plates to be surrendered directly to new owners, thus opening the door for aftermarket sales. Now, with over 35 million registered vehicles in the state, there is growing demand for rarer configurations such as low numbers, short messages, and unabbreviated words. Plate sales are a big business around the world, especially in the UAE which boasts the Top 10 plates sales ranging from $3m to the world record $14.3m. California has entered that playing field with the following plates: 

#7 COMPOSE – $1,200,000 

Top 7 Plates COMPOSE

This seven letter plate was last acquired in the early 80’s and spent nearly 40 years under the same ownership. Ideal for California culture, COMPOSE can apply to many creative arts, including photography, cinematography, and music. Someone like David Foster could pick up this trophy to join his 16 Grammys. 

#6 CINEMA – $1,895,000 

Top 7 Plates CINEMA

This six letter plate was previously owned by Paul Aratow, a director/producer most known for the 1984 film Sheena, starring Tanya Roberts as the Queen of the Jungle. Before his passing in 2015, he transferred ownership of the plate to his daughter Gabriella who is looking for the next owner to add to the Hollywood provenance. Perhaps Tarantino will become the next custodian of this plate as it writes its own story and works its way into history. 

#5 CASH – $2,000,000 

Top 7 Plates CASH

A rare four-letter word, perfect for a luxury lifestyle in the spotlight, this plate was purchased in 1972 within hours of personalized plates going on sale. The owner (named Cash), is one of the first patent attorneys in the Silicon Valley to patent semiconductors during the heyday of the computer hardware revolution. His social circles included the likes of Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. Now, for someone like YoungBoy NBA, whose star is rapidly rising, picking up this 1-of-1 seems rather poetic for someone who will never be broke again. 

#4 GO VIRAL – $3,500,000 

Top 7 Plates GO VIRAL

The ultimate goal of any Youtuber or social media influencer, this is one of the few two-word plates that can command a premium. Plates are 1-of-1 by design and function, making them all unique collector pieces. In an industry where Pokemon cards hit 7 figure values and become wearable collectibles, plates should make complete sense. When automotive influencers like Alex Choi change up their inventory, the cars may change but a plate like this remains timeless. 

#3 MD – $12,000,000 

Top 7 Plates MD

Out of 35 million vehicle registrations, only 676 two-letter plates exist in California (there are no 1 character plates available to the public). Highly recognizable and brandable acronyms are among the most valuable. In this case, the MD title applies to an elite group of brilliant minds and top earners. Some doctors, like Paul Nassif rise to the level of celebrity status and this plate is the ultimate show of status and exclusivity. 

#2 MM – $24,300,000 

Top 7 Plates MM

Internationally recognized as one of the most valuable plates in the world, the MM plate continues to create buzz in automotive circles. With plate sales being a huge industry in other countries, the release of MM shifted the attention to the growing plate market in California. The acquisition of this plate would beat the world record currently held in Abu Dhabi (even adjusted for inflation). MM is one of only 12 symmetrical pairs available in California. If business mogul Don Morris is looking for the ultimate gift for his wife Mimi, it would not only be TV gold on Bling Empire, but it would cement their names into international luxury legend. 

#1 888 – ??? 

Top 7 Plates 888

Quite possibly the most recognizable number in the world, the 888 plate has recently emerged in California after years of searching. “This plate has immense international appeal,“ said Michael Modecki, founder of “I believe once this plate is acquired, it will be held for generations.” In Chinese culture, the number 8 sounds like the word “to make a fortune” which makes 888 especially desirable to wealthy individuals and big businesses. If you’re a high-profile collector like David Lee, a plate like this adds a whole new level of rarity and value to your collection.

Sincere thanks to Pagani of DallasLamborghini Dallas, and Tactical Fleet.