CA Legacy License Plate Program, AB 1658

Californian’s love their cars. And it seems that the legislators have been lobbied enough to support classic car owners. As much as we love to point fingers (and blame) at our legislators it seems like they may have got it right this time. Maybe.

California Assemblyman Mike Gatto introduced AB1658, to establish the California Legacy Plate Program, on February 14, 2012 which was later approved by the Governor Jerry Brown on September 28, 2012. This program was created to ‘issue a series of specialized license plates that replicate plates from the state's past, if at least 7,500 applications for any one particular plate are received and held by the department, on or before January 1, 2015’.

Why is this such a great idea you might ask? The answer, at least for us, is simple. Vintage California YOM (Year of Manufacture) plates look fantastic on classic cars. It tells everyone your car IS a California car. Maybe not born Californian, but certainly raised Californian. That means that old Alfa you’re admiring has enjoyed great roads and great weather its entire life. And it’s the latter statement that really strikes a chord with classic car owners and buyers. Generally speaking the weather on the left coast is favorable to the pre-rust proof manufacturing techniques of the pre and post war era cars; especially in our vast Central Valley.

Back to the Legacy Plate Program. As AB 1658 is written, the CA DMV will issue the retro-styled plates in three type of YOM styles: 1) Yellow background with black lettering per the appearance of California license plates issued by the department from 1956 to 1962; 2) Black background with yellow lettering per the appearance of California license plates issued by the department from 1965 to 1968; 3) Blue background with yellow lettering per the appearance of California license plates issued by the department from 1969 to 1986.

Now we can’t provide a full Q&A breakdown, but the government is a step ahead and proactively created an FAQ site here. But we can tell you that you can expect some costs to fund the program. Anticipate $50 for the original issuance of the plates; $40 for a renewal of registration with the plates; $15 for transfer of the plates to another vehicle and $35 for each substitute replacement plate.

Now, remember we said that they maybe got it right? Well here’s the rub. The DMV will need to receive 7,500 pre-paid applications per YOM plate to even start that specific program. That means if the black plates out-pace the yellow and blue they’ll start that program first. And only if the financial resources are available. From reading the history of the bill, it appears that number was revised from 2,500 when it was first introduced, which (to us) is much more reasonable. As it stands the DMV says they’ve received a total of nearly 6,000. And finally, all applications and payments need to be received by January 1, 2015 or the program is cancelled and immediate refunds will be sent back to the applicants. So we’re holding out hope, but not our breaths.

Sources: CA DMV, CA License Plate History

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