The plate, which is expected to fetch over £100,000, is being sold to fund the purchase of a new electric car to replace one of Government House’s existing diesel-powered vehicles.
Simon Drieu, of Simon Drieu and Co, the auction house appointed to handle the sale on behalf of Driver and Vehicle Standards, said the business had never had a single-digit plate on its books before and it would therefore be virtually impossible to say how much J4 could sell for.
However, during previous sales of two-digit registration marques, J68 sold for £91,000, J19 sold for £86,000, J27 sold for £73,000 and J71 sold for £63,000.
Mr Drieu said: ‘It is the first time I have seen a single-digit plate come onto the market, certainly at auction, and I have been in the industry for over 30 years. I think this is going to create a serious amount of interest.
‘J68 went for £91,000 and that was two digits and this time we are looking at a single digit, so I am pretty confident it will go over £100,000 – I can say that quite happily. But this is such a rarity, so it is virtually impossible to predict what type of price it is going to go for – it really is a one-off.
‘Some people see registration numbers as an investment opportunity, but others will look at them for their exclusivity. This is a really unique thing.’
Infrastructure Minister Kevin Lewis said: ‘DVS auctions are a means of raising money for transport-related projects and, with the government seeking efficiencies, it is an important source of revenue for smaller important projects.
‘We are grateful to the Lieutenant-Governor for offering J4. It signifies that we are all committed to working more efficiently and that Government House is supporting the Island in achieving our objective of becoming carbon neutral.
‘Over the next ten years, all Islanders will be changing from petrol and diesel cars to lower-emission hybrid vehicles if we are to successfully respond to the declared climate emergency.’
The auction is due to begin at 10.30am on Saturday at Glencoe. Interested parties can bid in person or online. For more information, visit jerseyauctioneers.com.
Despite the common misconception that there are only nine single-digit registration marques in circulation, there are, in fact, ten. These range from J1 to J9, but there is also J0 – fixed to a replica Mercedes-Benz built by mechanic George Pool.
According to John Boothman, the vehicle was a Jersey-built replica of the first car ever imported into the Island – in 1899 – a 3.5 horsepower Mercedes-Benz owned by Advocate George Falla.
Mr Boothman said that during the same year, two young engineers from Grandin’s in St Helier who had probably worked on Mr Falla’s machine had worked out the dimensions of it and subsequently built a close copy. It was known as the ‘Jersey Benz’.
He claimed that although Mr Falla’s car had since disappeared, the Jersey Benz was brought back to the Island in the 1970s, after sitting in the lobby of a West Country Hotel for many years.
The owner of the vehicle lined the car up in front of Rosel Manor in 2008 – alongside five other pre-1908 motors – to recreate a photo taken around 100 years earlier. The image was taken to mark the centenary of the first outing of the Jersey Motor Association.