Afzal Kahn is one of those people you just can’t help but be inspired by. Just over twenty years ago he took the leap from a safe career in architecture to the world of car design and customisation. Starting with custom wheels, he’s created a multi-million-pound business doing for cars what a high-end fashion designer does for clothes.
As a self-made millionaire, he is also the proud owner of one of the world’s most desirable and sought-after number plates - F 1, currently sitting on his blue carbon Bugatti Veyron Super Sport - one of only three in the world.
When asked why he purchased the plate, he tells us, “It’s F1 related, it’s one of a kind, it’s the most powerful sport in the world, it’s related to a very, very expensive sport. You’d be mad not to buy it”.
F 1’ has attracted a lot of attention since it came on the market. Kahn purchased it based on the proviso that he wouldn’t sell it for ten years, to deter speculators from purchasing the plate.
He says it’s definitely his favourite plate, and he’s flat-out turned down plenty of offers for it - “I wouldn’t sell it for ten million.”
Perhaps the reaction he gets from it is part of the reason why he has refused to part with it so far, “It’s on my Bugatti Veyron, and whenever I check my Instagram page, I am tagged into countless images of the blue carbon Bugatti Veyron Super Sport, so it’s great in terms of connecting with people.”
In fact, Kahn is no stranger to personalised number plates, having accumulated a large collection over the years - over sixty - as part of his customisation services. Many of these plates sit on retention, awaiting the perfect owner, such as 1 CEO, 51 UNT and NO 4. Others he places on his show cars, such as 4 HRH.
Asked about why he loves number plates, his eyes light up, saying “I love short numbers, I think they make the car look good. “You could put a short plate on a rubbish car and it makes it look so much better.
It’s the cleanliness, it’s the simplicity. I’m in the industry of designing cars and helping people look like heroes on the road. The number completes it.”
In a way, Kahn’s a very dedicated plate investor, taking advantage of the thriving market that has sprung up around personalised number plates, noting “Fact is, I’ve been in the number plate business since I was a little kid, I’ve watched them, I’ve been in the business, a collector in a way”.
Along the way, he’s picked up some stunning plates. “I have NO 1, which I sold recently. 51 R, I bought that back in 1999, which I thought was a great number, JO07 NAZ, K4 AHN, AK11 ANS.
“Much like my automotive creations, each registration I own tells a story and generates a sense of intrigue, not only surrounding the vehicle but also the person behind the wheel.
“To the casual observer they are just a set of numbers and letters, but to me, they are an opportunity to set people’s imaginations racing. A good registration turns a mundane requirement into an exciting opportunity to say something about yourself.”
We agree - and add that they are a canny investment, considering the lack of red tape and maintenance costs associated with other investment items. A clever buyer can pick a plate - those with a solitary ‘1’ being extremely desirable - and hold onto it, allowing a third-party dealer to place it on auction after a period of time.
It is yet another revenue stream for Kahn and one that allows him even more room to experiment and grow his business. A motoring design mogul, Kahn demonstrates the rewards of skill, practice, determination and striking out for yourself.
With his stable of companies steadily growing and talk of even more cars being added to his bespoke range, there doesn’t seem to be much chance of him slowing down any time soon. We wonder what’s next for Kahn - more ‘Kahn Office’ shows on Youtube? Further partnerships with some of the country’s most famed brands? His own marque, built from the ground up? We can’t wait to find out!
To find out more about Afzal Kahn, give him a follow on Instagram.