Weekly insights into our crazy world.

Thursday, July 9, 2015



Big news from Sacramento last week. Legislators passed Assembly Bill 1658, also known as the "California Legacy License Plate Program." This means a lucky 7,500 applicants can receive the popular, old-school, black-and-yellow license plates for their antique cars. Used from 1963 - 1969, they were replaced with a safer plate with brighter colors. Since then, the plates have been a sought-after bit of nostalgia.

To celebrate, we examined current plates from all 50 states. Here are our findings:

Alabama. Sure, it's corny to have a Lynard Skynard song on every car in the state. But it's what officials decided upon back in 1997. See, for the fifty years prior, "Heart of Dixie" graced Alabama plates. In our touchy-feely world, this phrase was deemed inappropriate and something less controversial was selected instead. It's much better than the Sinatra song "The Stars Fell On Alabama," the second place choice.

Hawaii. Everyone loves rainbows!  And Hawaii has more than any other state. Designers must have worked hard to get the whole spectrum of Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo and Violet all on one plate. NOTE: You can tell which island a car is from by the first letter. A-G= Oahu. H= Big Island. K=Kauai. M=Maui, Molokai & Lanai.

Oregon. When first unveiled in 1988, Oregon's plate instantly won praise. It was named 'Plate of the Year' by the Auto License Plate Collectors Association. A grand Douglas Fir tree is matched nicely with the dark blue Serif text, lavender mountains and beckoning skyline. We can just smell the forest now. Nice work, Oregon!

South Carolina. A license plate should reflect a state's image and heritage. South Carolina's Sabal Palmetto is the State Tree. It stands proudly under a crescent moon delicately illuminating an pale orange sunset. Just as we imagine Charleston to be: Beautiful and Relaxing. Are you reading, GREG?!?

Wyoming. This plate topped a recent survey on CarInsurance.com. We agree. There's a flying horse, a calming meadow and impressive mountains. But don't go drawing it: The trademarked Bucking Horse & Rider Logo dates back to 1918 when the Wyoming National Guard fought in the Great War.

Arkansas. Little Rock made a big a big mistake back in 1996 when legislators approved a new design for vehicle registration plates. Specifically, a massive diamond centered in the middle of the plates. It represents Murfreesboro, the only open-to-the-public diamond mining facility in the USA. The rest of the nation wonders why the poorest state has precious gemstones on their license plate.

Delaware. Prior to WWII, license plates were very simple. With few autos and little regulation, cars had tin squares with a couple numbers fastened above the spare tire. However, by 1950, the implosion of automobiles meant states would need bigger and better license plates. Every state but Delaware got the memo. Are you reading, Joe Biden??

Illinois. We get it. Abraham Lincoln was born in a log cabin in Illinois. Sure, his bust belongs on a plate. But what graphic designer came up with this? The most recognizable face in US History becomes a blurry blue mess. To add to the confusion, Honest Abe is always obscured by a bright Red number. You can do better, Springfield.

Michigan. From a license plate point of view, the Great Lakes State looks like a Great Mistake. "Pure" is confusing. So is the squiggle attempting to be an "M." We also HATE web addresses on plates. Are we supposed to drop everything, go online and visit Michigan.org? Whilst driving??

Virginia.  According to both the License Plate Association AND the survey in CarInsurance.com, Virginia is the ultimate loser. An uninspired font, dull colors and nothing else. We thought Virginia was for lovers. For history buffs. Nope, Virginia is for...

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