States make quite a bit of money off issuing vanity license plates. While I’ve never been able to justify parting with an extra $50 each year for my own vanity plates (especially when collector cars are eligible to pay for plates only once), I have always found the world of personalized plates very intriguing.
Personalized plates usually say quite a bit about the car or its driver. One of my all-time favorite plates was shown in Car and Driver Ten Best Plates decades ago – an urologist with the plate “PPDOC”. Actually, it seems like doctors are vanity plate addicts. I know a pediatrician with “KIDSMD”, a family medicine doctor in a small town with “CNTRYMD”, and a dentist with “TOOTHDOC”. My favorite job-oriented plate is on the wild hot rod owned by a local funeral home worker: “CREM8R”.
You can say a lot about the driver without disclosing his or her profession. Certainly the twenty-something guy who had the vanity plate “GOTMILF” had a great sense of humor… Obviously the woman who called Washington State DOT to complain, causing the plate to be revoked didn’t have a sense of humor at all. Washington, like most states, prohibits vanity plates that “suggest vulgar, racial, ethnic, or indecent messages”. Somehow, GOTMILF slipped by.
A now deceased friend of mine had a plate that offended nobody – “IAMME”. His wife had “IAMME2”. Cute. A family friend had a business called A Tisket A Tasket, which made and sold gift baskets, so the plate on her Audi 5000 was “ATISKET” and the Suburban had “ATASKET”. Unfortunately, it only made sense when the vehicles were parked at her house.
I’ve never understood why people spend the money on a plate that simply indicates the make and model of the car on which it’s bolted. I often see a blue Toyota Prius with the license plate “PRIUS”. Like I’d mistake your car for a frigging Bentley Continental?
By the way, if I can’t identify that you have a “C5VETT”, “MSTNG” or “VDubya”, I probably can’t figure out the plate without crashing my own car first.
For some reason Ferrari owners love to indicate that their cars are Ferraris again on the plates. I’ve seen literally every possible phonic combination for these cars. The first thing my friend Bret did after buying a 1981 Mondial 8 was take of the “4RR EE” plates.
I did buy a Triumph Spitfire with the license plate “SPIT”. I didn’t keep the car, but the license plate is still on my wall. I’m trying to find the corresponding vanity plate that would come with a Swallow Doretti.
The art of the vanity plate is to be creative without being cheesy. Creative is the Maserati Bora owner with the plate “DOES185”. Cheesy is the plate that came on a beat-up 1968 Camaro I bought a few years back “SEXY68”.
Some personalized plates are a little too de rigueur. Seemingly all DeLoreans have some Back to the Future reference, like “OUTATIME”, “88 MPH” and “DRBROWN”. Chances are that the next Viper you see will have a plate indicating a characteristic of a snake, like “SLITHR” or “SNKBITE”.
A plate also shouldn’t work against you after being pulled over. The owners of “TWOFAST” and “PDL2MTL” deserve the tickets they get. I must admit that I thought about putting “BLUBYU” on my Powder Blue 1959 Triumph TR3, but that’s only because a) I was living in Houston – the Bayou City at the time … and b) that TR3 wasn’t capable of safely exceeding the local speed limits.
Creativity is key. A math teacher I knew had the plate “NOSRFUN” (“numbers are fun”). A local doc here in town who flies on the weekend put “FLY0AGL” (which means “flying at 0 feet above ground level”) on his Miata.
I’d have to give serious thought if I were to spend the $50 and add a vanity plate to one of my cars. In Washington State, “SAMIAM” was claimed about 25 years ago – I know the guy who got it, and he had it pinned to his VW Beetle. Actually, I’d never want to put my name on my car…Just not my style.
I’m more likely to go for the self-deprecating route. “COMPNS8” would fit just fine on my Corvette.
For more information on personalized plates, go to your state’s web site. Washington’s site at http://www.dol.wa.gov/vehicleregistration/sppersonalized.html even offers a searchable database to allow people to see what is already taken and what still is available.