Car Nostalgia Gets A Boost

Bill lands on governor's desk that revives California's vintage license plates

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After a summer of strife in Sacramento over missing park funds, competing tax proposals, and bickering over pensions, lawmakers actually did something nice Thursday.

They sent Gov. Jerry Brown a bill that, in a nod to nostalgia, allows the state to revive and re-issue license plates seen on California cars in the 1950s, '60s, '70s, and '80s.

In a state steeped in car culture, it's going to be a popular move.  It means that car collectors who don't have the original plates from their vehicle's era can apply to the DMV to issue a set.

In the 1950s, California license plates were yellow with black nnumbers. In the 1960s, the colors switched - the plates were black and the numbers yellow.

Jerry Brown certainly remembers, since he grew up in San Francisco in the 1950s and lived in Los Angeles during the 1960s, where he began his political career.

Assemblyman Mike Gatto, D-Los Angeles, authored this little road trip back in time.  He told colleagues earlier this year, "This bill would actually do something nice for those who collect and preserve our car heritage."

For collectors big (like Jay Leno) and car collectors small, the bill would also mean protection from counterfeiters who currently pass off fake vintage plates as the real thing.

There is this caveat.  The program has to pay for itself. Assuming the governor signs the bill,  the so-called Legacy License Plate Series would only get off the ground if 7,500 applications are received by January of 2015.  Customers have to be willing to shell out an extra 50 dollars.

But given the car shows, road rallies, and cruise nights that dot California's calendar, it's a good bet that car buffs will step up to this "plate" and bring a bit of innocent nostalgia back to the future.

Author Kevin Riggs, an Emmy-winning former TV reporter in Sacramento, is Senior Vice President at Randle Communications.

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