‘WO 1’ license plate headed across the auction block

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Bonhams has tagged it “The WO Factor!”

It is the license plate (AKA British registration plate) reading “WO 1,” the initials of Bentley founder W.O. Bentley and the number 1.

The plate will be offered up for bidding at Bonhams Goodwood Festival of Speed auction this weekend in England, where the Bentley centennial celebration will be in full force.

And for those of us who object to having to pay a few hundred dollars a year to register our cars in the colonies, consider this: Bonhams expects the WO 1 number plate to sell for £250,000 to £300,000 ($315,000 to $377,550).

“The perfect number plate to commemorate the quintessential British marque’s centenary,” Bo0nhams said in its announcement.

W. O. at the wheel

“W.O. are of course the initials of Walter Owen Bentley, a former Royal Navy captain and engineer who had previously built aero-engines, before setting up the eponymous Bentley Motors in 1919, in order to ‘build a fast car, a good car, the best in its class’.

“The first motor car to bear the Bentley badge was the 3 Litre which was unveiled at that year’s Olympia Motor Exhibition, the prototype engine having fired up for the first time a few weeks earlier. The model, in only mildly developed form, was to become a legend in motor racing history, with successes at Brooklands and, most notably, at Le Mans. 

“Bentley team members, including Woolf Bernato, known as the ‘Bentley Boys,’ picked up five race wins in the 1920s. Seven decades later, a more modern Bentley offering also gained victory in the grueling endurance race in 2003.”

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“This is a unique opportunity to purchase the perfect number plate to celebrate this historic marque, particularly in its landmark centenary year,” said Toby Wilson, Bonhams head of automobilia. “WO 1 is a piece of motoring history which would grace any model of Bentley.”

Bentley racing cars gather for a group lap

The automobilia portion of the Bonhams Festival of Speed auction begins at 11 a.m. (British time) on July 5.

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A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Great interesting article

    I have illinois license plate

    # WE 1 since about 1972

    Village sticker. # 1

    Thks, again

    • Very cool. My Dad had an Illinois license plate with the same number (a combination of address and phone number) that he retained for decades, until his retirement.

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