With many classic and rare cars becoming more affordable, a growing number of people both in the UK and abroad are showing an interest in car collecting, car shows and related events.
If you’ve attended a collector car show or similar event, you’ve almost certainly noticed sets of customised number plates used for many vehicles. These plates often feature more characters than a conventional number plate and, in many cases, specific car makes or model names.
Known as show plates, these customised number plates aren’t legal to use on the road, but are highly popular for show and event vehicles. We’ve explained everything you need to know about these plates, from their design to legality and more, below.
What Are Show Plates?
Show plates, or show number plates, are number plates that are designed specifically for use at car shows and other events. They commonly feature personal names or car model names, such as “PORSCHE” or “FERRARI”.
Unlike with number plates for roadgoing cars, there aren’t any restrictions on what can be put on a show number plate, allowing people to customise their plates with total freedom to match their vehicle or add a personalised touch.
There’s also no need to worry about a certain number plate being taken by someone else. Since show plates are only intended for use off public roads, you can freely choose a common word or message for your plate, even if it’s already in use on another show plate.
Combined with great presentation and maintenance, the right show plate can be the perfect final touch on a vehicle, potentially helping it win extra acclaim at a car show or attract more attention at a meeting or event.
Are Show Plates Legal?
When used for show cars or cars that aren’t used on public roads, show plates are completely legal. You’ll often see these number plates used on vehicles displayed in collections, or at car shows, conventions and other events.
You may also see them fitted to cars in private storage or at people’s homes. Some dealerships, particularly those that specialise in high-end vehicles or classic cars, will also use show plates to add a personalised touch to their vehicles while they’re on display.
However, show plates can’t be used on public roads. If you have a vehicle with show number plates, you’ll need to remove them and fit the vehicle’s legal number plates before it’s legal to drive the vehicle on public roads.
How Can Show Plates Be Customized?
Show plates are incredibly customizable, much more so than a normal, road legal personalised number plate. With a set of show number plates, you can add any message you like to your car or other type of vehicle.
Because they aren’t subject to typical legal requirements, show plates can be customised in an incredible range of ways. You can freely choose the plates’ color, size, material, text styling and border. It’s even possible to add a custom badge, such as a national or regional emblem.
Common materials for custom show plates include ABS, acrylic and high quality metals, such as pressed aluminium. Some show plates are even available to fit specific cars, with an outline that is customised to match a car’s lines and contours.
Are Show Plates Only Available for Cars?
No. Show plates are available in a diverse range of sizes, including dimensions for motorcycles and other vehicles. In fact, these are becoming increasingly popular for motorcycle and special vehicle events and conventions.
Almost all show plate providers will offer their plates in a variety of dimensions, allowing you to choose a plate style and color scheme to suit your vehicle.