The California yellow on black license plates are one of the trademark touches to a 60’s automobile. It can range from a muscle car to a Volkswagen Bus. As of 2015, the DMV gives drivers the option to have a reissue of the original 60’s legacy black plates on their cars. They were great back in the day, but I can’t say I feel the same about them on today’s cars and trucks.
The black plates were produced for their respective time, and should be left alone. Not long ago, I was cruising up HWY 101 when I saw a “murdered-out” Infiniti pulled over by Johnny Law. A quick glance showed the plate to read “SF LOVE” or something along those lines. I would assume that if I were the type of guy who had a sideways baseball cap with the driver’s seat fully reclined while driving, I’d think the black plates would have topped off the car’s look. Being an old man at heart, I rolled my eyes. Bob Dylan had once wrote, “The times, they are a-changin’.” Like Ron Burgundy, I had never heard that song.
One might wonder why I have such disdain for a nominal fee over your standard registration dues. At risk of sounding like a hipster and a half, the California black plates are something that are earned, not purchased.
A good friend of mine has an old 66’ Mustang coupe that has been in his family since his grandfather bought it new. The car has its fair share of dents and dings, but it has also survived nearly half a century in the Golden State. For those that pay a bit of attention, it means the car was registered its entire time in California, never losing the original plates or needing to be re-registered. The plates are not as shiny as they once were, but they’re original and the real deal. As cars get older, it’s nice to have that extra piece of history that goes with it, showing where the car’s home stomping grounds have been all this time.
Arguably, there will be people that build or restore cars that are not originally from California, and would like a nice period touch such as a 50’s yellow plate or 60’s black plate. To be fair, those plates are more fitting than a plate that reads “DMV.GOV.” when rolling around in your 327 Chevy powered Deuce Coupe. I can understand that side of the argument. For the soccer mom driving her latest Range Rover, stick with your Lake Tahoe themed vanity plate if you want to look trendy next to the other Lululemon clad women with 6 hours until the kids get out of school. Most importantly, leave the black plates on the cars that earned them.