SUPERSTITIOUS motorists are swerving the 13 series number plate in the belief it will lead them down a road to bad luck and misfortune.
Car dealers have noticed an increase in the number of omen-fearing customers on their forecourts which has led garage owners to inquire with the DVLA as to whether the number can be skipped.
Dealers have also found that drivers eager to “hide” the unlucky number are opting to get their number plate personalised – despite the extra cost.
In the Republic of Ireland, cars registered between January and the end of June will have a 131 registration while those from July 1 to the end of the year will have 132 on the plate.
This decision is based partly on fears that superstition about a 13 reg would affect sales and also in response to the Irish motor industry’s plea to spread sales more evenly across the year.
It had been expected that the DVLA would follow suit, but it has since confirmed that all cars registered between March 1 and August 31 will carry a 13 series number plate.
This has left the UK motor industry waiting anxiously to see if superstition will slow sales.
A spokesman for Ferry Road-based Howard-Johnston Cars believes that sales will remain steady but that a wider trend towards personalised plates on 13 reg cars is taking place.
He said: “We’re certainly hearing that this is the case. It’s the talk that we’re hearing from other traders across Edinburgh.
“Drivers like personalised plates as they look cool, hide a car’s age and bring a bit of personality to driving.
“But people – generally speaking – can be suspicious, so I can see why this underlying trend of people opting for a private plate over a 13 plate has taken off.”
James Saperia, from personalised number plate company Simply Registrations, said: “Motorists who religiously change their cars every three years will have been looking forward to their upgrade and may choose to go ahead regardless of the number on their registration plate, while others who may not be superstitious themselves could be concerned with resale values of cars carrying a 13 number plate.
“They may decide to hold off for six months before buying that new car in order to protect their investment.
“Then, of course, there are buyers who genuinely feel that the number 13 will bring them bad luck.”
He also believes that rather than shunning the 13 reg some drivers might in fact find it appealing.
He said: “While some people might avoid the 13 number plates, for others the number 13 could be just what they’ve been waiting for.
“Lots of options are opened up with combinations such as AL13 ERT, RO13 ERT and SU13 ARU all becoming available.”
Explaining its decision, a DVLA spokesman said: “We recognise that some manufacturers are concerned that superstitious motorists may be wary of buying a new car with the number 13 but any change to the current registration system would be costly to the taxpayer and we cannot justify skipping a number because of superstition.
“If someone is adamant they do not want to own a car with a 13 plate they would either have to transfer an existing registration number on to a new car or purchase a personalised plate.”
The devil rides out . . in a capri
Fear of the number 13 is known as triskaidekaphobia.
A recent AA survey into the superstition found that one in three drivers are frightened of buying a car with the “unlucky” plate.
Another number that registers fear with motorists is 666. or the number of the devil.
Businessman Keith Tagliaferro, owner of a Ford Capri with the plate ARK 666Y, had his car “exhaustised” after he claimed a woman with burning eyes began staring into the rear-view mirror. A mechanic once fled after the car started to rock and turned itself on.