NEWS: Pre-1969 California Legacy Plates approved

1964-65 Isuzu Bellel diesel 02

Residents of California can now get classic black license plates for their vintage cars. In 2012 the state began taking applications for the Legacy License Plate program, promising to re-issue the classic colors if at least 7,500 people signed up.The black plate, originally produced from 1963-69, just reached that magic number and all systems are go. They will go into production in January 2015.

Unlike this diesel Isuzu Bellel, however, most cars owned by JNCers were built in the 1970s and require blue plates to be period correct. Unfortunately for those, there’s still a ways to go.


Right now, only a paltry 1,473 orders have been issued for the blue plates. The initial run lasted from 1969-87, when they were briefly replaced by the “sunset” plate and then the red-on-white scheme with block letters.


This, however, is the current California plate: white with red script on top. If your car is a 1994 model year or newer, or is a classic brought in from another state in 1994 or later, chances are it’s wearing one.

It is ugly. Newer ones even say “” along the bottom for no reason whatsoever in the most hideously unimaginative font possible. Domain names should not be found anywhere on a car older than the internet.


If your car must wear a small metal rectangle, wouldn’t you rather gaze upon the calming cerulean hues of a period-correct metal rectangle? One that inspired the iconic Mariner Blue paint on of the first-generation Mazda Miata? What’s more, blue plates are not part of California’s Year of Manufacture program.

You can send in an application for a blue plate at the California Legacy License Plate website. It costs $50 and you get your money back if they fall short of the 7,500 needed. The deadline is January 1, 2015.

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9 Responses to NEWS: Pre-1969 California Legacy Plates approved

  1. dickie says:

    this is interesting news, i have a black plate and a couple blue plates that belonged to my dad hanging in the garage.

    Texas has a contract with a private company that produces custom plate designs for an additional fee, including vintage looking plates… or you can use any state-issued plate from the year your car was manufactured providing your car is at least 25 years old. so 3 of my 4 cars qualify. It’s actually harder to come by plates from the 80’s than it is to find older pairs in good condition.

  2. The Black CRX says:

    The new black “legacy” plates won’t likely be in production until 2015, so they’re not quite available yet, according to the DMV. And the DMV has not yet released the final design, but it will not be an exact duplicate of the 1963–69 black plate.

    For one, CA plates are required by law to be reflectorized now, and how they’ll do this with a black background is unclear. Also, they will likely have seven-digit numbers for sequential plates, when black plates had six (three letters, then three numbers). Assuming vanity plates will also be available, those will be a total giveaway, since vanity plates weren’t introduced in CA until the blue-plate era. And you’ll be able to get the legacy plates for any model-year of car. Hopefully the DMV will omit the stupid URL along the bottom.

    To me this is all good news, making the “legacy” plates a nice tribute but not a workaround for the authenticity and provenance of a pre-1970 car with its real original black plates.

    Now get those blue-plate applications in, folks! Those would be really nice to have on a JNC, and they’re the only one of the three legacy designs that’s not already available in the Year of Manufacture (YOM) program.

  3. Bart says:

    Ben, I know you used that first picture just to taunt me!!! Arggg.

  4. Yuri Ranum says:

    I am so lucky that my Z is still rocking its 7-digit blue plate. Thanks for the info in the article as to when the plate transitions happened, as I have a soft spot for the “sunrise” plates, and have only ever owned one car that had them.

  5. Cliff Costello says:

    As of June, the “Black Plate” will see production, as it hit the required minimum number (7,500) pre-orders. The “Yellow Plate” and the “Blue Plate” are still way behind in reaching the minimum required. They need each to hit 7,500 pre-orders by 12//31/2014, or they won’t go into production. Since the “Black Plate” has, production is ramping up according to the CA DMV. I asked the CA DMV what the final design is going to end up looking like. Here is their reply to me from their Facebook webpage:

    “Cliff Costello -The final design of the black 1960 Legacy plate is similar to what is appearing on DMV’s internet site for the Legacy plates The background will be reflectorized plate sheeting, as required by statute, with yellow embossed (raised) “California” and embossed yellow characters for the plate configuration. You should receive the pre-ordered legacy plates in approximately 9 – 12 months. Keep watching our website for updates on the Legacy Plate Program

    We should start seeing these plates on the roac by late this year and early next year (2015). Looking forward to getting a set for my 1970 Chevy El Camino SS. Worth the money for the nostalgic look!

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