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The history of the number begins with Maurice, son of Alan, Third Lord Egerton of Tatton. He secured M1, the first registration plate to be issued in Cheshire, in 1903 for his 12/16hp two-cylinder Darracq, the same car that Henri Farman drove to second place in the 1901 Grand Prix de Pau. Father and son, both motoring enthusiasts, owned numerous fabulous cars from 1901 and 1958, when Maurice died and left Tatton Park to the National Trust.

In 1904, Maurice transferred the plate registration number to a 60hp, 20 cwt dark green Panhard. That year he raced it in the Irish A.C. 200 Guineas Challenge Cup and lost his heat by 20 yards to A.E. MacDonald, who was racing S.F. Edge’s Napier and went on to win the final. In 1920, Maurice inherited Tatton Park and the cars belonging to the estate, including a 1900 Benz that he had restored. In 1924, M1 was transferred to the Benz, where it remained for the next 82 years. This year the National Trust and Cheshire County Council sold the right to use the registration M1, but the 1900 Benz and its original plate will remain in their ownership at Tatton Park.

Estimated at £80,000-120,000, the registration generated a fierce battle between bidders in the marquee and on the phone. The eventual winner was a UK private buyer who purchased it for his son’s sixth birthday. The father-son motoring bond and hefty toy allowance were even strong enough to beat the previous record for a car number plate set by Russian tycoon Roman Abramovich who paid £285,000 for the VIP 1 plate from Pope John Paul II’s Popemobile.

By Stephanie Harris