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California Takes Drivers' Orders For 'Vintage' Car Plates

An image from the California DMV website shows its "vintage" plate designs. More than 4,000 orders have come in for black tags similar to those in the 1960s.

hide captionAn image from the California DMV website shows its "vintage" plate designs. More than 4,000 orders have come in for black tags similar to those in the 1960s.

California DMV

Thousands of California drivers are ordering specialty vintage license tags for their cars, in a program that lets people choose new tags based on designs from the 1950s, '60s, and '70s. The throw-back plates will let drivers put iconic blue, black, or yellow plates on their vehicles.

And in a nod to way things used to be, the tags' letters and numbers will be stamped, not screen-printed, as John Rabe reports for Southern California Public Radio.

The plates come at a price of $50, along with the normal costs of registration. Here are the three choices, according to the bill, which was introduced by Assemblyman Mike Gatto, and the state's DMV:

  • Yellow background with black lettering: issued from 1956 to 1962.
  • Black background with yellow lettering: issued from 1963 to 1968.
  • Blue background with yellow lettering: issued from 1969 to 1986.
The real deal: California's new vintage car tag program would let drivers emulate icons of cool such as actor Steve McQueen, seen here in his Ford-Cobra roadster in 1963. i i

hide captionThe real deal: California's new vintage car tag program would let drivers emulate icons of cool such as actor Steve McQueen, seen here in his Ford-Cobra roadster in 1963.

Dick Stroebel/AP
The real deal: California's new vintage car tag program would let drivers emulate icons of cool such as actor Steve McQueen, seen here in his Ford-Cobra roadster in 1963.

The real deal: California's new vintage car tag program would let drivers emulate icons of cool such as actor Steve McQueen, seen here in his Ford-Cobra roadster in 1963.

Dick Stroebel/AP

Any design that receives at least 7,500 orders before the start of 2015 will be produced and issued to drivers. As Rabe reports, the black tags are leading the way. Citing the California DMV, he says the black tags have more than 4,000 orders.

"I've been told the black plate is actually above average for a specialty plate 6 months in," Rabe writes.

In an earlier post, Rabe called the retro plates "an easy way for the state to make life a little more enjoyable for those of us who appreciate the classic era of automobile design."

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