‘Classic’ California plates shouldn’t be brand-new

Guest EditorialCONCORD, CA (Mar. 23, 2023) — There was an article in the February Pioneer regarding Assembly Bill 378, which Tim Grayson is authoring, that will allow a path for the public to purchase “specialty” license plates similar to those produced in the 1950s and 1970s. As a late 1950s classic car owner, I oppose this bill.

I bought my classic plates at a swap meet. They were slightly rusted and had dents in them. I sent them off to one of the few people on this planet who restores them, which cost me about $400. When I received them back, they looked brand-new.

Vintage plates are not easy to find, and that is what makes them valuable. If you do find them in good shape, they aren’t cheap.

The reason our classic cars are “classic” is because you don’t typically see them every day. From the wide, white wall tires to the license plates, they are unique. If anyone can just purchase a set of classic-looking license plates, it makes our real classic plates common – and no longer unique.

I cannot tell you how many times I have overheard people at a car show point at the license plates and say: “How cool are those plates?” Well, they aren’t going to be so cool when the same style of plates is on, say, a 2019 Toyota.

What makes something valuable, and this goes for license plates, is supply and demand. The more supply of these 1950s and 1970s plates that comes on the market, the less demand there will be for original classic plates, and this will devalue our original plates. I mean why buy $400 classic license plates, when you can get the same look for 40 bucks?

This bill takes advantage of classic car owners by providing the public what we consider a reflection of the time and style and making it run-of-the-mill.

Guest Editorial by Dennis Dorando of Concord. Dennis is a collector with particular expertise in classic Corvettes.