The advent of the World Wide Web -- a.k.a. the Internet, the Interweb, whatever you may call it -- has influenced our world in some weird and wonderful ways over the years. But who'd have thought it could be such a major factor in something as old-school as license plates?
That's just what's happened in Malaysia, with the introduction of the prefix "WWW" on plates. Apparently, when it comes to technology, people's desire to be first knows no bounds, even when it's only on the ends of their cars. The most coveted plate, "WWW1," recently sparked a major bidding war in the Southeast Asian country, with some 18,000 people fighting for the right to bear this illustrious appellation while cruising around town. That honor finally went to Malaysian royal state leader Sultan Ibrahim Ismail, for a record 520,000 ringgit -- or US$165,600. "Vanity" plate, indeed!
Ismail, the leader of the southern state of Johor, is reputed to be a big car enthusiast, which comes as no surprise. Who else would want to spend that much for a license plate? It also helps, of course, if you're a wealthy public figure who can afford such an indulgence.
Officials at Malaysia's Road Transport Department estimates that successful bids for "WWW" plates will bring in a total of 11.3 million ringgit, or $3.6 million. (One can assume these aren't the kinds of plates they crank out in prison.) Paying a huge sum for vanity plates is nothing new in Malaysia. The previous record, in 2010, was more than $95,000, for "MCA1," the acronym of a national political party. And you thought Americans were obsessed with their cars.
If you could afford it, how much would you pay for your ideal license plate?