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What California license plates say about our car culture

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The newest "License plate for a cause," is from the California Parks Department. It will be put into production if 7,500 order it on their website

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A new license plate design could be coming to the market soon and this one's got a mighty Redwood on it.

The idea from the DMV aims to help make the state's famous forests and state parks more visible and, ideally,  valued.

The plate has already been designed, but it'll only be put into production if 7,500 people order them by May 18.

It will join another dozen specialty plates the state offers drivers.

"These kinds of license plates add yet another level of distinction," Leslie Kendall said to Take Two's A Martinez. Kendall is the chief curator at the Petersen Automotive Museum.

Kendall says it's a special part of the car culture unique to the golden state.

"In California, we express an awful lot of ourselves through our cars and that extends through our license plates."

Photo courtesy Steve Lyon/Flickr Creative Commons

On the black and gold license plates of the 1960's

"I like the black plates with the yellow/gold lettering on them. I think they speak to early California. They speak to a very formative period of the motoring landscape in our state."

Photo courtesy of 

On the Blue plates of the 1970's

"In the 1970's, California ran out of letter and number codes so what they did was, they switched them around. Instead of two letters followed by three numbers, it was three numbers followed by three letters. To highlight the differences, they changed them from black to blue. But if you kept your car with the black and yellow plates on it, and some people did, it's still legal today to have a car like that."

Photo courtesy Flickr/Fabi Dorighello

On the modern white license plates

"It's bland yes, but it gets the idea across. All you're doing with your license plate as far as a lot of people are concerned is telling people how to find you if you do something wrong."

To hear the full conversation, click the blue player above