| What’s in a number' A Toyota Camry
Thiruvananthapuram, Oct. 4: AK-47 one' AK-47 two' AK-47 three'
Alex Thomas was sitting on the edge of his seat. Would the killer Kalashnikov be his, now that he had hiked his bid to a whopping Rs 2.9 lakh'
The city-based builder was at an auction ' no, not for weapons ' but for car registration numbers and the tussle was for the magic name his Toyota Camry would be known by.
The regional transport office had, after all, played its cards right. Sniffing the enormous drawing power of having “KL-01 AK-47” on the number plate, it had put the digits up for auction.
And car owners had driven straight into the trap. Finally Thomas it was who clinched the deal, without batting an eyelid for being so much poorer.
Another number that generated hysteria was “KL-01 AK-1”, for which A.K. Balagopal, a distributor of pharmaceutical products and proud owner of a Merc, parted with Rs 3.05 lakh.
But why “AK-1” when “AK-47” was there for the taking'
Possibly, the mischief and magic of AK-47 was lost on Balagopal. Or the letters “AK” may have been special: didn’t a former chief minister have them for his initials' Or Balagopal himself, for that matter'
“We were surprised when contenders started quoting fancy prices. It has encouraged us to think up new games to generate more revenue,” regional transport officer E.A. Babu said.
According to sections 39 and 47 of the Motor Vehicles Act, the state transport commissioner can reserve up to 100 fancy numbers for auction. Bidding is held only when there is more than one applicant.
Personalised number plates have yet to catch up in India, but they have long been in vogue in the US where rules are relaxed to allow unusual number combinations.
In the UK, weekend papers carry hundreds of possible combinations that could cost between '100 and '100,000. For instance, a bachelor could start with “WHO 2 WOO” ' it would cost '4,000 ' and then shift to “WHO 2 GET”, which would come for '5,500.