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  1. #1

    Default What's the Big Deal with a California "Black Plate"?

    I see cars for sale and they say "Black Plate" not included in sale. Or "Car has Black Plates". I can't imagine what the color of the license plate could possibly have to do with the value of a car but I have to admit I don't live there. I did a Google search and I see that you can still buy Black Plates in California today to put on your brand new Camry. So.................

  2. #2
    FEP Member
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    Dec 2016
    Grand Rapids, MI


    This is what Google told me:
    This license plate series began in 1963 (when ALL vehicles were issued the new plates) and ended in 1969. A black plate on the car AND on the title signifies that the car has been in California continuously since that plate was issued, which would be 1969 at the latest,
    I am pretty sure in California the plate stays with the car through ownership changes. The whole black plate thing doesn't mean crap to me, but maybe it might be cool to someone else.
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  3. #3


    Maybe, except that you can get a black plate on your 2018 Camry so anyone can have a black plate on any car. It may have stopped for a time but it definitely did not end in 1969 according to my Google as I said above, LOL.

  4. #4
    FEP Member brianj's Avatar
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    Feb 2012
    Raymond, New Hampshire
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    The new black plates are not the same- reflective material used, etct. They are a retro type thing. The originals are sort of like having original paint on a car- new paint might be better looking, but you only get original once, and you can never have it again.
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  5. #5


    Quote Originally Posted by brianj View Post
    The new black plates are not the same- reflective material used, etct. They are a retro type thing. The originals are sort of like having original paint on a car- new paint might be better looking, but you only get original once, and you can never have it again.
    So really you are saying there actually is nothing special about them? It's just that it's the original tag is all? That's what I was thinking. I know a guy that lives here in NC that has an original 2003 tag on a car he bought new in 2003. It is awful looking and faded but if he wants to sell the car he can say "original white and blue faded and sad NC tag included"
    Last edited by homer302; 04-14-2018 at 09:23 PM.

  6. #6


    If you have a car built after 1963 and before 1969 and it has the original Black/Yellow plate, letters then numbers, then that would be worth more than one with a current White/Blue plate. That means the car probably came from out of state after 1987. Or it has a salvage title. If you have a Blue/Yellow plate, letters, numbers . This would indicate a car licensed in the years 1969 to 1980. If you have a Blue/Yellow plate, number, letters, numbers, this is 1980 to 1982. This is the plate that I got when I moved here in 1980. After it was totaled in 2004 they took that away from me and gave me a current White/Blue plate.

    A couple of years ago they decided you could special purchase any of the other color plates you wanted. However, the DMV stated that it wouldn’t begin re-making any of the plates until it has received 7,500 pre-orders and a $50 deposit for each by Jan. 1, 2015. Orders for the black plates flooded in. And those were the only different colors they made. It does not look like the original because now it has a combo of 7 letters and numbers instead of the 3 letter 3 number combo. You can personalize it provided that combo of characters and spaces adds up to 7, and has not been used on another plate of any color. Having the right plate on your car also add extra points at a show.

    They also have a variety of different plates supporting different causes that you can order. All these plates follow the White/Blue colors. And cost a premium every year as do the new Black/Yellow plates. Just last week they came out with a John Lennon plate.
    Lots of FREE F/Z info on my site.

  7. #7
    FEP Supporter NAVYCAT's Avatar
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    Jul 2004
    Montebello, CA


    I have the new black plates on my new mustang "4HOOFS" and on order for my Falcon "69GTP3"
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    Both '84 Capri's vin# were 10 away from each other

  8. #8
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    Jun 2010
    Wellington, VA
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    I think you guys are missing the point here a little. In those years in CA, every car was issued their "own" respective license plate when bought new. In those specific years, the dealer actually issued a permanent plate (it just happened to be black with gold letters) to the original owner at time of purchase, no paper temporary tags like they do today, so it's kind of neat for collectors to actually have the plate that came with their particular car when bought new. These are unique plates issued to your specific car and hence they have some inherent value. Yes, more to some, less to others. Unlike today, when ownership changed the plate stayed on the car, and the new owner registered to the permanent black plate numbers on the car. The plates were basically a part of the car, not temporary throw aways like today. There is some history of the plate to the car. I've owned a few of these type of cars out of California that the original owners actually kept the plates throughout the life of the car. When you are talking 30-40 plus years it's actually kinda special to have them considering how much abuse tags experienced over the years. just my two cents. I actually have a much later plate for the mid 80's cars from CA where they later changes their plate colors to a really neat royal blue with gold letter. Yes, kind of silly, but, also kinda cool to see one of our cars at a show wearing the original tags on the car which they wore during those specific periods. Little tougher in later years because of the issue date and year stickers that are applied, so a fairly tough find to locate those specific stickers as well. I've posted one of those plates before. Oh, one other note, the original CA black plates also came embossed with the specific year of the car. The most famous original CA black plates were those found on the "BULLITT" mustang that Steve McQueen drove in his 68 Mustang GT. JJZ-109.

    this photo sucks, but, the original black CA plates as issued were on this car, with "day-one" changes already made in the torque thruster wheels (most likely influenced again by the Bullitt movie). This photo was taken on the road in late 69, early 70 by the original owner.

    here's an original Blue and Gold CA plate as issue back in the day on our cars. See the stickers for year and month.
    Last edited by vascj; 04-16-2018 at 08:11 AM.

  9. #9
    FEP Super Member gr79's Avatar
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    Jun 2009
    SE Michigan


    Now i know the real why. Thanks for the post.

    They are yellowish gold or gold letters and numbers.
    California is the Golden State.

    When vacationing in California in 1974, wondered:
    Why some lic plates were blue, some black?
    The black plate was way more common when down in LA.
    The blue plate special was way more common when in the Bay area.

    Was told by more than one person back then in '74 (prob a theory):
    Black/gold was southern Cal;
    Blue/gold was northern Cal.

    Big cities, poorer people, drove more older cars= black plate. LA?
    Suburbs= blue plates? Farms= black?
    More affluent northern drove newer cars= blue plate. Bay Area.?

    Mich had white reflective character on black background plates 1979 to 1984.
    Can reuse them for one time fee of $35 if car is registered as antique, historical.
    The plate year must match the car year. Can use any auth plate from private sale, etc.
    No routine driving, except whole month of August or events like car shows, club events, parades.
    They match my black 79. Still have both, ft and rear required at the time.
    The real deal and old as the car, not repops like Cal 'vintage' plates.

    Standard Mich plates now have goofy state slogans and mixed fonts that look like crap.
    The optional standard multi color creative graphic plates are worth the $5 one time fee.

  10. #10
    FEP Power Member vintageracer's Avatar
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    Sep 2008


    As a point of note:

    If you purchase a vintage California vehicle with the original Black/yellow or blue/yellow plates and YOU the out of state buyer wish to keep that original license plate registered to that car in California the California DMV will take your money and register that car in YOUR NAME at your address in your state of residence. Just pay the registration fee and they will send your California "Pink" slip registration to your out of state address. You can continue to renew this as long as you own the car AND the person to whom you sell the car can do the same!

    Now your states DMV may not like it and it might actually go against the registration laws of your state of residence to own a car that is domiciled in your state of residence and still licensed and registered in another state HOWEVER what your DMV does not know doesn't hurt em! This "could" present a problem with some states that track insurance coverage on a vehicle however given the fact we are talking about a "Vintage" limited use vehicle I doubt this will present a problem.

    I have done this exact process any number of times to keep the Black/Yellow original license plates registered to the original California vehicle on which they were originally issued.
    Last edited by vintageracer; 04-17-2018 at 04:32 PM.
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