California Assemblyman Mike Gatto has introduced Bill 1658, which could eventually return three kinds of vintage license plates to California roads: yellow and black plates from the mid 1950s, black and yellow plates from the 1960s – such as the sample 1963 plate pictured – and blue and yellow plates from the '70s.

The initiative is called the Legacy License Plate Program, but before you collectors and period-correct enthusiasts salivate over – or lament – the possibilities, it has a few hurdles to clear. First, the bill has to be passed when its put to a vote on April 9, which is expected. Then it would only come into effect after 2,500 people had signed up for the plates, assuming that the DMV did its math correctly and had enough money to pay for it. Finally, once all of that got checked off, the program would begin in 2014.

Current regulations mean that in California, the license plate has almost always lived with the car since new, so if you see a black plate on a 1966 Corvair, then that tag was minted the same year as that Chevrolet. The plates will be updated to modern standards, e.g., reflective paint, so they won't look just like the old timers, but we figure vintage-minded owners won't be fussed at all.


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  • 92 Comments
      mypathoflight
      • 2 Years Ago
      I wish states would return to having unique plates. It was nice being able to identify a plate just by looking at it. Now most states have so many designs you have to be close enough to read it to tell where it's from.
      Dane Grant
      • 2 Years Ago
      Every State in the Union should go back to basic plates... A lot of them look like Granny's living room.... We had a simple one in Illinois, now it is Granny's Slipcover.... North Dakota's looks like a buffalo eating bananas... All car plates should be simple to read just like the European plates.... No frills, no scenery...
        Bryant Crawford
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Dane Grant
        Your right! Some states have hundreds of different plates for every imaginable organization its crazy. I can't see how the cops can keep up with them. 1 plate for each state. You don't like it move or don't drive.
      Alex Fischer
      • 2 Years Ago
      Please! I hate all those plates with gradient backgrounds or vistas or w/e. I miss old two tone plates. Way nicer. If I had my way, they'd all be white background, black letters.
      H.E. Pennypacker
      • 2 Years Ago
      i don't know why plates have to be so damn ugly these days. so many unnecessary graphics, gradients, colors, font changes, etc. bold and old is the way to go.
        johnb
        • 2 Years Ago
        @H.E. Pennypacker
        agree, those old plates are beautiful.
      _I_I_II_I_I_
      • 2 Years Ago
      Love those old California plates, especially the black ones. California people, please support this!
      wongtpa
      • 2 Years Ago
      California = government first - citizens last!
      diffrunt
      • 2 Years Ago
      vintage will probably show up better on trafficams
      frankc354
      • 2 Years Ago
      doesn't California have other problems that could use some attention
        eurocardriver000
        • 2 Years Ago
        @frankc354
        I agree. That's like redecorating the house after you sold it. CA is a mess and this is what they spend time on??? HELLO !!!!!
        Casey
        • 2 Years Ago
        @frankc354
        We have a ton of problems and our inept law makers can't fix a single one. At least we will get some cool plates to choose from. This is the first bill I am excited about in a long time!
      Steve
      • 2 Years Ago
      Please do; I think it looks so much better than the current version
      JusticeGustine
      • 2 Years Ago
      I often see phony black plates at classic car events, blue or white plates repainted in black/yellow. I'd really like to see the end of front plates in California. How many signatures do we need?
      p4olom
      • 2 Years Ago
      I'm down for the 70-80s yellow on blue license plates
      • 2 Years Ago
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