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Car culture update: Black plate leads Legacy License Plate pre-orders; plates will be stamped, not flat

The yellow plate on the wrong car. But this is an actual production sample, and it looks pretty good.
The yellow plate on the wrong car. But this is an actual production sample, and it looks pretty good. Courtesy Office of Assembly Member Mike Gatto

In April 2012, we told you about Assemblyman Mike Gatto's Legacy License Plate bill.

It's not a big thing, but it's important to a lot of people. Mike Gatto, a Democratic Assemblyman from LA, announced today that the Assembly Transportation Committee passed CA Assembly Bill (AB) 1658. That's the California Legacy License Plate Program, his bill that would let drivers pick a vintage-style California license plate.

In a news release Gatto says, “Aside from not salting our roads, California doesn’t often do much for automobile enthusiasts. This is an easy way for the state to make life a little more enjoyable for those of us who appreciate the classic era of automobile design.”

Gatto's bill passed easily, and the DMV is now taking applications for the plates.

But the DMV has an important caveat for specialty plates: "The law enacting this plate program (AB 1658, 2012) allows until January 1, 2015 to reach the required minimum 7,500 pre-orders for any one of the plate styles." And only the black plate is even halfway there. Here's the latest tally:

  • Yellow plates: 1,213
  • Black plates: 4,224
  • Blue plates: 901

(I've been told the black plate is actually above average for a specialty plate 6 months in.)

According to Wikipedia, the yellow plates were in use from 1956 - 1963. Black replaced them until 1969, when the blue plates were issued. They ran until 1982.

(Wikipedia Commons/Happoshu)

Apparently, there was some concern from car enthusiasts that the plates would be flat, painted plates. We knew they wouldn't be completely authentic, as the DMV explains in its FAQ:

Q: Are the Legacy Plates going to look exactly like the license plates issued in the 1950's, 1960's, and 1970's?

A: No. Current law requires license plates to be reflectorized and modern manufacturing processes may not allow for an exact replication of the original plates. ... The final design of the plate will differ; however, as many characteristics of the original plates as possible will be applied.

But flat plates would look awful. But good news. This just in: the plates will be stamped, just like the old ones were.

(Wikipedia Commons/Happoshu)

It costs $50 to apply for a plate, but you get a refund if the plate you want doesn't hit the 7,500 threshold.

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