By Andrew Ganz
Monday, Apr 16th, 2012 @ 10:37 am
 
To classic car enthusiasts, few things are more universally vaunted than a vehicle's California pedigree - especially if it has so-called "black plates" or "blue plates." To capitalize on this, a state assemblyman has proposed optional black or blue license plates with yellow lettering designed to evoke the feel of the historic plates.

Last week, California's Assembly Transportation Committee passed Los Angeles Democrat Mike Gatto's Legacy License Plate Program, or Assembly Bill 1658, in a 14-0 vote. Now, the state's department of motor vehicles will need to receive 7,500 paid applications before it will consider moving forward.

"What's old is new," said Gatto in a statement. "This bill would enable everyone from the backyard auto restorer, to the nostalgic, to the purchaser of a brand-new but retro-styled automobile, to opt for a license plate most appropriate for their car. And it might make the state a little money too."

It's unclear what upcharge California would make for the specialty plates, although other designs typically run $20-50 according to the DMV's website.

California used plates with a black background and yellow/gold letters from 1963 to 1969. The design was replaced in mid-1969 with a blue background that lasted until the early 1980s. For car collectors, a car that still bares its black or blue California plates is often worth a hefty premium because it shows that the car has, presumably, been continuously operated in the Golden State's generally mild climate.

The reborn black and blue plates will follow a modern numbering sequence, so they can't be used to fool buyers, but they would at least give vintage car enthusiasts a period-correct style for a small fee.

Photo by Ronan Glon.