The NSW heritage number plate 40 was offered for auction in 2007.

As part of the auction, some great historical information was released not just on 40, but on NSW heritage plates in general.

From the auction listing:

The right to display motor Vehicle number plate NSW 40 original number.

Even in the earliest days of motoring there were regulations. One such regulation in New South Walesrequired that ‘No person shall upon any public street drive any motor vehicle upon which appears any advertisement likely to frighten any horse’, the motor Traffic Act provided ‘That motor vehicles shall have separate distinguishing numbers’ and that ‘A suitable attachment (be) securely fastened in an approved manner at the rear of any motor vehicle for the purpose of affixing the number plate’, the latter being defined as ‘An iron plate enamelled black, with letters ‘NSW’ and figures of the number in white’, these plates were real number plates, they started at ‘1’, ‘2’ followed then by ‘3’, and soon, with admirable simplicity, until 1937 when ‘273-978’ was reached.

In that year, real number plates were discontinued in favour of what aren’t really ‘Number’ plates at all (they are ‘Letter and number’plates).

Less than half a per cent, of the original 273,978 survive. You could well look at thousands of cars and still not see one.

Since November 1983 it has been possible to buy and sell number plates on a ‘Right to display’ basis, the plates May be stored with the Road and Traffic Authority (on ‘Hold’) and with the correct documentation transferred to a new owner, either to be returned to the R.T.A.  To put on hold, or be placed on a registered motor vehicle.

NSW ’40’ was issued to a prominent Sydney family, the early numberplates were also issued to Government officials. For example ‘3’ went to the Minister for Police,’6′,’8′ and ‘9’ to the Tramway Department and ’10’ to the New South WalesFire Brigade.

Records indicate that Sydney’s early 20th century aristocracy wore single and double digit numberplates on their Vauxhalls, Rolls Royce’s, Benzes etc.

Remarkably ‘NSW 40’ has remained in the same family since c1910 and is offered for sale by that family for the first time ever.

Offered here is the opportunity to acquire an item with an unquestionable provenance that is of huge significance to Australian motoring history


The plate was auctioned by Bonhams & Goodman in Sydney on 13/10/2007.  The sale price is unknown to us.


NSW 40

Toyota Land Cruiser – 27 May 2015

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