March was a bumper month for car sales, reaching the highest monthly total for 10 years, the Society of Motor Manufacturers (SMMT) said.
Some 464,824 new cars were registered in March, up 17.7% on the same month last year and the best figure since 466,954 were registered in March 2004, the SMMT said.
March also saw the introduction of the new 14 number plate. March 2014 and March 2004 were the best two months for new sales since 1999, when the once-a-year number plate in August was ditched for twice-a-year changes in March and September.
Chief executive of the SMMT, Mike Hawes, said March's sales showed a "surprisingly strong level of growth and a reflection of intensifying consumer confidence and the availability of great new products".
He said there had been a "substantial margin of pent-up demand" contributing to a strong new and used-car market, adding: "There has never been a better time to buy a new car thanks to attractive finance deals and advanced technologies that often make new cars cheaper to run."
The society expects the market to perform positively for the rest of 2014, even if at a modest rate, Mr Hawes added.
The SMMT said that the average registration volume for the month of March from 2004 to 2008 was about 449,000 units, with this figure dipping to 369,000 in the post-recession period of 2009 to 2013.
Copyright Press Association 2014