By on June 25, 2015


Thanks to California’s Legacy Plate Program, the state’s classic black license plates are back on the presses.

The program, Hemmings Daily writes, was passed in 2012 after Assemblyman Mike Gatto noted the molds used to stamp the black, yellow and blue plates made in separate eras between 1963 and 1982 “were just sitting there in Folsom prison,” per Gatto’s legislative director Aaron Moreno. Moreno adds the molds were found intact once the dust was cleared, paving the way toward reintroduction.

However, the three plates could only be made if each one garnered a minimum of 7,500 pre-orders between January 2013 and December 2014. While the black plates blew away the rest with 20,000 pre-orders to date, the yellow and blue plates only had few thousand each.

When the new plates leave Folsom in the next few weeks, there will be two key differences between the 2015 edition and the originals made between 1963 and 1969: the “63” stamped in the right-corner sticker window will not be there, and the plate overall will be covered in a reflective coating as required by law. Otherwise, it will appear as if stamping never ceased.

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23 Comments on “California’s Black License Plates Are Back In Production...”

  • avatar

    My parents’ 1967 Buick Skylark coupe had the black plates. And 43 years after they traded in the car, I still remember the number: UGG 034. Now if I could just remember where I set my reading glasses….

  • avatar

    I like Texas rule where I can put period plates on my car. The problem is finding a decent set can be difficult.

  • avatar

    what?!! no stars and bars?? what the hello is going on here?

    :: sarcasm ::

  • avatar

    Uh-oh, what are the black plate, Nth-generation-CA-resident snobs gonna do to distinguish themselves from the later-arriving rabble?

  • avatar

    Hope they use the old letter/number and number/letter sequesnce, otherwise theyll just look like new plates someone painted over.

    my personal favorite was the mid/late 80s one with the art deco font and the sun. supposedly they were stopped because northern californians got butthurt or something

  • avatar

    I like the blue plates with yellow letters, I saw a car just last week that had one that looked to be in perfect condition. It is a much more distinctive look than the current boring navy blue on white plates (even if they happen to nicely match two of my cars which are metallic white).

  • avatar

    Nice look to go back to. I find the current California plate Script for California looks atrocious. It’s an eye sore and living in Arizona for a year meant I saw them constantly. The classic Arizona plates were much nicer than the updates and the same can be said for older PA plates before the modern redesign. Louisiana continues to have nice looking plates that have a trending evolution you can see between them made in the last 30 years or so.

    I kind of wish the older dark with white lettering would return for all states. The dark lettering on white background is much harder to see in many cases though I understand many states make them reflective enough to make it easy at night for cops to spot. Still, it just bugs me from a design front.

  • avatar

    New Jersey issued black plates with orange lettering back in the 1950s.

    www worldlicenceplates com/usa/US_NJXX.html

  • avatar

    I grew up with the CA black plates and always liked them. Then I moved back east and discovered the Delaware black and white porcelain miniature license plates. Best license plate ever. Nothing else comes close.

  • avatar

    Now if I can get a Michigan plate with the white letters on blue… I’d pay extra for that…

    • 0 avatar

      Those were nice, although the ones with the reddish thing with Big Mac on top looked pretty nice, too. I do like the current ones as well — they don’t get originality points, but they don’t look dorky, either!

      The current Ohio plate draws from the one prior to the “Land O’ Lakes” one (fron the Ted Strickland days), but the one prior to that was the best — I had my plates changed to the latest style just so I could keep the older ones for hanging on the wall someplace.

      My one wish is that Ohio would adapt a font on their PL8s that allows for the variety of vanity plates from, say, Illinois.

  • avatar

    Black, white, blue, whatever. Can we please just get rid of the hideous front plate? Or at the very least give us an option for a mini front plate like in Europe. Don’t worry, your automatic scanners will read it just fine.

    • 0 avatar

      A few inter-related notes:

      1. I think CA is also reissuing the blue and yellow plates that chronologically followed the black and yellow ones. They’re nice too

      2. I replaced my CA blue and yellow front plate on my 74 peugeot with a french license plate of the appropriate vintage. It’s illegal but I never get stopped

      3. Ran into a guy the other night who bought a used 2013 Ford Focus from a dealer and left the dealer advertising blank in the license plate frame (the plate was underneath the plastic blank that said Lithia Dodge or whatever). He also was never stopped by the cops and crossed the Golden Gate Bridge toll free ($6 a pop) for months.

  • avatar

    First of all, I think the current trend of states trying to get all artistic with the plates, adding little advertisements to them (“Come to [our state], it’s fantastic”) is a design abomination. They all ought to go back to plain background, plain letters/numerals, and the state’s name clearly identified in block letters, not some weird script.

    Secondly, I was appalled to see recently the horrible printed plastic things Texas has introduced. Did no one working on this remember that it’s both hot and sunny in TX and that these plastic plates will UV-degrade? Plus they just look SO cheesy.

    When I was a kid, TX plates had a scheme I liked and still do: one year it was white letters on black background, next year black letters on white, and so it alternated year by year. Although in those days, all the plates were due for renewal on the same day (not each month, but one day each year) so the lines at the DMV were really stunning to behold. (And yes you got an entire new set of metal plates every year, not just a little sticker.)

  • avatar
    Joe Oliphant

    It’s nice to see these back. But it seems they’ve gotten a little too period specific. The only way to replace existing personalized plates is to fill out a form and mail in a check. I guess they only want the true die-hards.


  • avatar

    FYI, from Wikipedia:
    California Legacy License Plate program offers vehicle owners the opportunity to purchase replicas of California license plates similar to those issued in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s. Only the 1960’s plate reached the required 7,500 minimum orders before January 1, 2015, and will be the only one implemented. The 1950’s and 1970’s plates did not achieve the required 7,500 minimum orders. The plates will be issued from late spring through summer 2015. Additional time is required for personalized plates.

  • avatar

    Ohio plates are a nightmare…there are at least 3 styles of plates running around, the old red white and blue, the farm scene, and the current ones. For a time, the county name was added as a sticker across the bottom, now the county is indicated by a 2 digit numeric code on a sticker on the bottom corner of the plate. There are so many variations too, universities, fraternal organizations, Lake Erie, etc…it’s confusing as hell.

    I don’t mind the black and white Tx plates, didn’t know they aren’t metal.

    • 0 avatar

      Can’t stand the farm ones (which I referred to as “Land O’ Lakes”). Yuck!

      My “One Nation Under God” PL8s are OK in the current iteration, but looked better in the previous red/white/blue scheme.

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