By on April 5, 2013

The California state DMV is offering motorists the chance to step back in time and order new license plates in historic color combinations.

Your choices are black letters on a yellow background, yellow letters on a black background (the famous original black plates often found on California barn finds) and, my favorite – the color combination synonymous with the 1970s, Disco, leisure suits and “CHiPs,” – yellow letters on a blue background.

The program requires a minimum of 7500 paid pre-orders prior to January 1, 2015, but the DMV’s information states that, once that magic number of has been hit, the program will begin immediately so the wait for your new plates may be substantially less than it first appears. The best news is that you don’t have to own a classic car to get that classic look. But it helps!

http://www.dmv.ca.gov/legacyplates/index.htm

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35 Comments on “California Offering Legacy License Plates...”


  • avatar
    7402

    Nice, but I’m betting they won’t issue you an E (exempt) plate like the one in the pic.

    • 0 avatar
      CowDriver

      As you may have noticed, current exempt plates no longer have an “E” in a diamond, hexagon or octagon (depending on the level of government — state, county or city). I wonder why they stopped using the “E”?

      Remember some of the other special plates? “PP” in a triangle for Press Photographer, etc. I wish I could find a list of them.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    I’d like to hear a policeman’s view of this.

    I think the proliferation of multi-colored and multi-format vanity plates is not good. It used to be that you could ID the driver’s state without even reading the numbers, just by knowing the colors on the plate – not any more.

    Now I have to see that they love square dancing, or went to Penn State.

    • 0 avatar
      Scuttle

      They shouldn’t be profiling drivers based on what state they are registered in anyways.

      • 0 avatar
        Lorenzo

        gslippy isn’t talking about police using colors to ID state plates, just regular people. Unfortunately, it’s the same with car models – you could tell at a glance if a car was a Pontiac, Chevrolet or Oldsmobile, Ford, Lincoln, Mercury, Buick or Caddy, but there are so many brands today, with very similar styling and overall shape, that it’s impossible.

    • 0 avatar

      The big problem is that the old California tags aren’t reflective. The vintage car lobby must be strong in CA…

      • 0 avatar

        The website states that the new tags will be modern, only in the old colors.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        More like a nice little earner, at $50 each, paid well up-front. Does CA use prison labor to make plates? Probably costs more to mail them than to make them.

      • 0 avatar
        Michael500

        The new legacy plates will be a Frankenstein version with the reflectorized sticker they use now (only the numbers have paint/ink). The CA DMV hasn’t stated if the California letters will be embossed/punched or just a Franken-script made to look like the old one. Doutbful it will have the month/year square “debossed” rectangles. I’m planning on getting one anyway since the current plate is SO STUPID looking- every six months they put a new STUPID message about government on it, plus the IDIOTS place the sticker area-rectangles too close to the mounting hole, and in a place that is covered by most plate frames. It’s the People’s Republic of Kalifornia after all.

        • 0 avatar
          lilpoindexter

          So why don’t you leave? It will be difficult, but we will manage without you. You sound more like a NJ or Penn whiner/ complainer type anyway.

          • 0 avatar
            Michael500

            Because I was here first and CA used to be a place with cool things, great looking plates, Ronald Reagan along with his 4% sales tax rate, and new freeways. I am still hoping the idiots that screwed it up would leave, like you.

          • 0 avatar
            topper646

            +1 Michael500. I’m getting tired of our fellow ‘enlightened’ Californians always telling the rest of us to leave CA when we disagree with incompetent government, nanny state policies and hostile business climate. We have a right to voice and vote our opinions in this great state.

    • 0 avatar
      David Hester

      Identification on the fly is not really a problem. You learn your states’ different plates pretty quickly and you also get familiar with the different types of plates of the states that border you.

      The problem comes in making sure you have the right “mask” entered into the computer when running a specialty plate. The “mask” is a alphanumeric code that has to be entered before you enter the actual plate number to be sure you’re running the right tag. For example, there’s a University of Kentucky license plate “1234″ and a Eastern Kentucky University plate “1234.” If you don’t enter the right mask, you’ll run the wrong tag and if you don’t catch it, it’ll look like you have a improperly registered vehicle. (Just one of the many legitimate ways an officer can make a mistake running a plate vis a vis Baruth’s thread from yesterday.)

      Our MDCs have a cheat sheet for all of the Kentucky masks that most officers keep open on the desktop while working.

  • avatar
    jkross22

    As a resident of CA, I’m a huge critic of the idiocy of our state government, but this is a good idea as a money maker. I am surprised it’s only $50. I figured that those passionate enough to get one of these legacy plates would surely pay more than that for them, say $150.

    • 0 avatar
      Steve65

      You do understand that it’s $50 annually, on top of all other fees? Pretty much in line with the cost of other custom plates.

    • 0 avatar
      jim brewer

      I think its a brilliant idea. Lots of people keep an old car out of nostalgia. A lot of people are fond of a particular style—Heck, I loved the Colorado plates with the little skier man and I didn’t even live there. They would need to offer styles back to 1959 or so to make it work.

  • avatar
    fincar1

    I understand that these legacy plates are supposed to be reflective. I wonder how they’ll manage that on the yellow on black plates – will they use glass-bead reflectorization like Arizona and Missouri did in the 1980′s? It will be interesting to see how close the new plates will be in appearance to the older ones they’re emulating.

    • 0 avatar
      Michael500

      The new legacy plates will be a Frankenstein version with the reflectorized sticker they use now (only the numbers have paint/ink). The Democrats passed a stupid law in the ’90s making all plates reflect. The CA DMV hasn’t stated if the California letters will be embossed/punched or just a Franken-script made to look like the old one. Doutbful it will have the month/year square “debossed” rectangles. I’m planning on getting one anyway since the current plate is SO STUPID looking- every six months they put a new STUPID message about government on it, plus the IDIOTS place the sticker area-rectangles too close to the mounting hole, and in a place that is covered by most plate frames. It’s the People’s Republic of Kalifornia after all.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    California will transfer used vintage plates from the open market to your car as long as you show up with readable plates and you must bring 2 plates.

    I’d buy them from a vendor like this one:

    http://classiclicenseplates.biz/store/page3.html

    And have them restored:

    http://www.vintageplaterestoration.com/

    • 0 avatar
      vcficus

      I want 853 OKG!!!

      That’s Jim Rockford’s plate on the Rockford Files, both the older and newer Firebird he drove.

      I live in Michigan and would order it here but I need the 1978 gold Pontiac first.

  • avatar
    CowDriver

    I saw one of the yellow-on-black plates last night. It was a bit jarring to see a modern letter/number combination (in today’s font) with the old color combination. I didn’t notice if it was reflectorized or not.

    • 0 avatar
      Steve65

      Pretty good trick, since none have been issued yet…

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      I’m sure you can paint a newer plate with a vintage colors and get away with it. It would take an officer with a keen eye to notice the newer font, but since you’re not changing the letters/numbers, why would they care? The ’88 to ’94 California had the ‘raised’ letter “CALIFORNIA”, so that would be the choice to paint over.

      I have the “California” graphic (’95 to current) on my SVO’s plates and that would be a natural for an airbrush graphic of that era’s ‘sunset’ on the ’82 through ’87 plates. Same font.

      gadget123.s3.amazonaws.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/California-License-Plate.jpg

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    Dear Californians,

    A few notes about the vintage coloring. No, it’s not going to look cool on your Civic. No, it’ll not give your Porsche convertible any street cred. Yes, it should be used primarily on old American cars. Yes, your Mercedes SUV will look ridiculous with vintage colored vanity plates.

    Regards,

    Other people in America

    • 0 avatar
      MeaCulpa

      If the plate matches the cars color I think it will look pretty good even on a civic. Black civic with black plates surly looks better then the same black civic with some multi colored abomination with palm trees and a sunset of a license plate.

    • 0 avatar
      wagonsonly

      Why only American cars? I have a barn full of vintage Subarus registered with Connecticut’s “Early American” plates, and I’d be the first to agree with you that they look foolish – that’s why I use the year of manufacture plates when possible. Now our DMV wants to do away with street permitting of year of manufacture plates. If the program is canned, I’d much rather be able to get a set of vintage-look Connecticut plates, with a modern serial number, than show a Model T and the words “Early American” on my ’73 Subaru wagon.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    I’ve been waiting for this law to be enacted for decades .

    Sadly , all my oldies (I don’t own any modern cars/trucks) have old plates so I can’t join in the fun….

    It’ll be a good money maker for the State and hopefully the trolls and whiners will for once , shut the f up because it’s 100 % VOLUNTARY so only those who like to $pend the lolly will have to pay for anything .

    -Nate

  • avatar
    Lorenzo

    Changing the color of the original plate is actually not allowed, but there’s no real penalty and it’s done so frequently that the California DMV decided to allow it and make some money off it. It’s no big deal, since there are so many past issue variations that police can’t keep track anymore, and just need them legible day and night.

  • avatar
    Michael500

    CA government/DMV is so ‘stoopid, look at the vehicle example for the “1950s” plate- its an early 1960s Ford van-o-truck. They couldn’t find a picture of a 55-57 Chevy, T-Bird or something. Jeez. CA government can’t even use Google, but they sure know how to tax it.

  • avatar
    CV Neuves

    I love the idea, that Californians can now choose the good old classic styles. I personally loath today’s kitsch plates with all sorts of pics and slogans on them. However, I suppose, the Golden Staters would go green – or any other color for that sake – if they only new about the plethora of choices the good burghers of Australia’s most populous state, New South Wales, have at their disposal. Practically, anything goes, including advertising messages for your fleet of company cars, dealerships, football teams, you name it. Here is the official website:
    - http://www.myplates.com.au/products/index.html
    - See also: http://www.rta.nsw.gov.au/registration/feesconcessions/pricelist.html
    - Note: US-$ 1.05 = AU-$ 1.00

  • avatar

    This making me think I should get my original ’76 TX plates for my car restored and re-upped at the TXDOT office..


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