A unique number plate bearing the letters and numbers 'THE 571G' has sold for more than 26 times its reserve price at over ?10,000 to a fan of popular BBC motoring programme Top Gear.

The enigmatic Stig has been played by a number of different people over his lifetime, with former grand prix driver Perry McCarthy assuming the mantle for a lengthy period, and double world champion Fernando Alonso remarking earlier this year that whoever the mysterious Stig is, he 'is a seriously good driver, definitely ex-F1' [see separate story - click here].

Now, the registration plate - which had an initial reserve price of just ?400 - has been sold under the hammer for ?10,690 to Top Gear enthusiast and London car dealer Rick Fusari during the DVLA Personalised Registrations' three-day auction held at the Haycock Hotel in Wansford, Cambridgeshire.

"Like all motoring enthusiasts I'm a fan of Top Gear," the 45-year-old Ferrari owner confirmed. "Ironically, my mum always says she can't stand 'that man' Jeremy Clarkson, but that won't stop me going out and buying a white crash helmet!"

"We had more than a dozen people chasing the 'THE 571G' registration," added Damian Lawson, marketing manager for DVLA Personalised Registrations. "There we were thinking there was only one Stig, but now we're not so sure..."