Muscle up: California Reissues Classic Black License Plates

California Number Plate

One seemingly ‘unimportant’ piece of legislation may likewise prove to be the good news that both modern and vintage car owners have been waiting for. Thanks to AB 1658 introduced in 2012 by California Assemblyman Mike Gatto, a Democrat representing Glendale, classic car enthusiasts can now relive the memories on the road by using the sensational and classic black license plates from the past that were issued between 1963 to 1969. The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) through its Legacy License Program announced that it has received the necessary 7,500 applications to begin its first run of production of these black throwback plates. According to the DMV, the black plates were among the fastest specialty plates ever to achieve the 7,500 applications necessary to be issued.

These black license plates were popular in the 1960s, the golden era for American muscle with California’s scenic coastline and wide-open highways that welcomed sophisticated vintage cars such as Chevrolet Chevelle, Dodge Charger and Pontian GTO on the road. Motorists who’ve placed orders for the iconic plates will begin receiving them in two to three weeks after their application has been submitted, Gatto’s office said.

So how close are these plates to the original? Beyond the prominent black and yellow color motif, these plates are made from the original molds that the DMV discovered at Folsom Prison where the classic plates used to be made. According to Gatto’s office, the new ones will still be made in Folsom Prison where a team of 110 inmates produces a total of 8.5 million license plates per year. This is not just staying faithful with the original production of the plates, but also as a means of providing livelihood opportunities for the inmates of the correctional facility. As close as it may seem to the original, the new plates will use yellow reflective paint on its letters and numbers as it is required by law.

The reissuing of the black plates provided a faster way for car collectors to order these plates without bypassing state laws and regulations. What’s more, these reissued black plates will also be made available for modern car owners aside from the vintage car owners. This only means that owners of the new models such as Toyota Prius or the Tesla Model S can have their own throwback-on-the-road experience as they can be able to order a set of the black plates. For the proponent of this simple but significant provision, it takes one to treat legacy important before appreciating this initiative. According to Gatto, who himself is a car guy that once restored a Chevrolet Camaro, “Aside from not salting our roads, California doesn’t often do much for automobile enthusiasts.  This is an easy way for the state to enable everyone from the backyard restorer, to the nostalgic, to the purchaser of a retro-styled automobile to add that extra bit of detail for those of us who appreciate the classic era of automobile design.”