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Vintage California license plates get green light from Governor Brown

by Take Two®

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A blue Chrysler is on display at Long Beach's, California, antique automobile market 08 April, 2007. GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images

Governor Brown recently signed off on legislation that will enable classic car enthusiasts to buy brand new license plates with a retro look.

For $50, car owners can get their hands on retro black-and-yellow license plates, which were originally used in California during the '50s and '60s, or a yellow-on-blue plate that adorned many a Pinto in the '70s.

"California black plates are unusual because when a car traded hands in the day you normally got a brand new plate, you didn't just get a new sticker to put on it, you got a whole new license plate," said Leslie Kendall, curator of the Petersen Automotive Museum. "The more a car changed hands the more likely it was to not make it through with its original black and yellow plate."

With the passing of AB 1658, lawmakers hope to appeal to vintage car collectors to rake in a bit of extra cash to California's economy. However, to classic car enthusiasts, the program is an affront to good taste.

"People like the original black and yellow plate because it means the car was owned by fairly few people, it may be even an original owner car, so that usually says something, you can also advertise it as an original black plate California car," said Kendall. "An original black plate car can add value, that's why people are so anxious about having them and a little bit hesitant about what's coming around the corner."

The Department of Motor Vehicles will only begin producing the retro designs if its receives 7,500 or more applications requesting the plates. Interested parties will be able to order the plates beginning in January 2013.

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