Owners of personalised plates reveal why they bought them

David Harilela

Car plates: DH 8878 and JH 11

“Forty years ago, I had just bought my first car and wanted an auspicious licence plate to christen it. I’m a big believer in feng shui so when the plate DH 8878 came up for auction, I knew I wanted it. The number eight has always been lucky for me, so I bought it for HK$20,000. For many years it brought me luck. I decided to pass it on to my daughters who share my initials. I hope it will bring good fortune to the generations that follow.

“My father Jethanand Harilela was the patriarch of our family. At his 80th birthday, his brothers gifted him the licence plate JH 11 to represent his initials and the number one to symbolise his position as head of the family. He later gifted it to me and told me that the second number ‘1’ represented me, as I am the eldest son of the eldest brother in the family.”

Purviz Rusy Shroff

Car plate: PUMPK1N

Shroff, who volunteered at Mother’s Choice for more than 25 years, affectionately called the babies whom she looked after “pumpkins”. What’s more, the late Rusy Motabhoy Shroff always reminded their chauffeur to bring his wife home from events before midnight, so her car became known as the “Pumpkin Carriage”.

The Shroffs submitted their desired number in September 2010, imagining they would get it at the entry price as it didn’t feel like it had particularly broad appeal. But they were not the only bidders: car dealers hoping to resell the plate to the owners of a racehorse named Royal Pumpkin raised the stakes. The irony was that the Australian horse, which had won three races in Hong Kong, was owned by the Shroffs. They eventually won the bid, and Shroff’s Rolls-Royce Phantom now bears the PUMPK1N plate.

Cecil Chao

Car plate: 4

It might seem strange for anyone to want a number plate with what is widely considered to be an unlucky number—in Cantonese, the number four is a homonym for the word “death”. But Shanghai-born Cecil Chao, owner of Cheuk Nang Holdings, says the number sounds like “happiness” in Shanghainese. It is installed on his Rolls-Royce convertible.

See also: Property Tycoon Cecil Chao and His Daughter Gigi on Building a Lasting Legacy

Douglas Young

Car plate: 200MPH

“The plate was gifted to me last year. My friend bought a pre-owned supercar and it came with the plate. He didn’t want to keep the plate, so he gave it to me. I think only my old Rolls-Royce, which is the slowest of the 20 cars I have, is appropriate for such a brash plate because it is clearly not meant to be taken seriously.”

See also: Goods of Desire Founder Douglas Young on Preserving Hong Kong's Culture