If you’re restoring a classic car, already driving one, or just happen to have an “old” car, maybe you’ve heard of the unique license plates available for them. Can you get special license plates for your classic car? Unfortunately, the answer isn’t so simple, and it depends on what state you live in, how old your vehicle is, and how you plan on using it. Before you walk into Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) or Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) – Seriously, what’s up with you, MA? – here are a few things to know about special license plates for your classic car.

Class Plates

Depending on the State where you are registering your vehicle, you might be able to get class plates for your classic car. “Antique,” “Vintage,” and “Classic” license plates are available in different states, depending on the age of the vehicle. Every State DMV has its own rules regarding what qualifies for class plates, usually something along the lines of 25 or 30 years old, by model year. Check with your state for specifics.

Class license plates and their associated registration, are usually cheaper than “regular” plates, such as you have on your daily driver. That’s because these registrations are for limited-used vehicles, such as going to car shows and exhibitions or within a certain range of from home.

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Year of Manufacture Plates

Take a quick look on eBay or craigslist for one of the best ways to add some flair and authenticity to your classic car – year-of-manufacture (YOM) plates. Many States with Class Plates also allow for YOM plates, but they must be original, in good condition, and match the year of the vehicle they’ll be mounted on. “Restored” YOM might not qualify for road use, but they’re still nice for car shows.

Again, each State has its own rules regarding YOM plates. Check to be sure your vehicle and plates qualify before you plunk down the Benjamins on a set of authentic YOM plates.

Vanity Plates

If you don’t want to stick with the limited-use rules that come with Class Plates and YOM Plates, your next best bet is a set of Vanity Plates or Custom Plates. You’ll pay more for custom plates, but you can, within reason, get them to say almost anything you like. Are you driving a ‘57 Chevy? How about a set of “B3LA1R” Vanity Plates? Maybe a set of “L1L D00S” for that ’32 Ford or “CERB RUS” for that classic Demon?

With regular vanity plates, you can drive your classic everywhere, without limitation. To find out what rules you need to follow, check out your State’s DMV website.

A Final Word

Unique license plates might save you a few bucks, but you’ve still got to play by the rules if you want to use them on your classic car. Police can pull you over if you’re driving a class plate to work or school, for example. Be sure you’re carrying all your paperwork, especially if you cross State lines to go to an exhibition.

Unique license plates can add a bit of flair and authenticity to a classic car restoration or show car – it could even be the different between a red ribbon and blue ribbon at the car show.

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