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Thread: License Plate Restoration

  1. #1
    President Member 57pack's Avatar
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    License Plate Restoration

    License plates on my Lark are looking somewhat tatty.
    Any recommendations for someone who performs license plate restoration service?
    1957 Packard Clipper Country Sedan

    "There's nothing stronger than the heart of a volunteer"
    Lt. Col. Jimmy Doolittle
    "I have a great memory for forgetting things" Number 1 son, Lee Chan

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    Golden Hawk Member
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    Be aware that restored plates are illegal in at least some states.
    Gary L.
    Wappinger, NY

    SDC member since 1968
    Studebaker enthusiast much longer

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    President Member 57pack's Avatar
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    I’m sure it’s also illegal in NJ. In NJ you can get your current license plates reproduced by the state for a reasonable fee. And I would consider that but...the new plates being issued now are not embossed, they are printed. Call me old fashioned but I think the new plates are terrible looking.
    I suppose they switched to the flat printed plate so the license plate readers / scanners the police and DMV use can read the characters easier.
    1957 Packard Clipper Country Sedan

    "There's nothing stronger than the heart of a volunteer"
    Lt. Col. Jimmy Doolittle
    "I have a great memory for forgetting things" Number 1 son, Lee Chan

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    Quote Originally Posted by 57pack View Post
    License plates on my Lark are looking somewhat tatty.
    Any recommendations for someone who performs license plate restoration service?
    Are you referring to your regular state-issued plate or a special plate not tied to taxation. In Indiana, for example, we have only one state plate on the rear and that can be had with a myriad of special so-called non profit support plates. We now even have one for the Studebaker Museum. Just about anything goes on the front as long as it's not deemed improper. I have a restored 1950 Indiana plate right now and also have one from my home state of Wyoming. That's a 1950. The later was in mint condition but i had the Indiana plate air brushed by a talented friend. I understand that in California you can get a vintage plate of the year your car was manufactured in place of the state issued plate. No doubt there is a fee. Speaking of Wyoming, they still issue two plates so a non-legal plate would not be allowed there as do many other states.

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    President Member 57pack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DWBookout View Post
    Are you referring to your regular state-issued plate or a special plate not tied to taxation. In Indiana, for example, we have only one state plate on the rear and that can be had with a myriad of special so-called non profit support plates. We now even have one for the Studebaker Museum. Just about anything goes on the front as long as it's not deemed improper. I have a restored 1950 Indiana plate right now and also have one from my home state of Wyoming. That's a 1950. The later was in mint condition but i had the Indiana plate air brushed by a talented friend. I understand that in California you can get a vintage plate of the year your car was manufactured in place of the state issued plate. No doubt there is a fee. Speaking of Wyoming, they still issue two plates so a non-legal plate would not be allowed there as do many other states.
    In answer, yes, these are my state issued license plates. I have had them since 1971. In NJ you can transfer plates from one car to the next. It is possible that if you received your new license plates issued in 1959 and have continued to renew your registration each succeeding year, you can still have your 1959 number. My Dad had BWV-550 on his car from 1959 until 1969 when he passed away suddenly.
    1957 Packard Clipper Country Sedan

    "There's nothing stronger than the heart of a volunteer"
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    "I have a great memory for forgetting things" Number 1 son, Lee Chan

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    Quote Originally Posted by studegary View Post
    Be aware that restored plates are illegal in at least some states.
    Just out of curiosity, how would anyone know it was restored?

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    President Member 57pack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by my2R5 View Post
    Just out of curiosity, how would anyone know it was restored?
    Maybe they would look better than the original issued plates? Not unlike a restored Model T verses a then new Model T as it rolled out of the factory door.
    1957 Packard Clipper Country Sedan

    "There's nothing stronger than the heart of a volunteer"
    Lt. Col. Jimmy Doolittle
    "I have a great memory for forgetting things" Number 1 son, Lee Chan

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    President Member nvonada's Avatar
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    Just don't tell them. In OH we are required to carry our historical tags in the car while using model year license plates. I know they are in there somewhere but nobody has ever asked to see them. My only legal problem ever in that car was convincing them that Stude really did use "I" for "1" on the serial number when I transferred the title.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 57pack View Post
    In answer, yes, these are my state issued license plates. I have had them since 1971. In NJ you can transfer plates from one car to the next. It is possible that if you received your new license plates issued in 1959 and have continued to renew your registration each succeeding year, you can still have your 1959 number. My Dad had BWV-550 on his car from 1959 until 1969 when he passed away suddenly.
    OK. What about contacting your BMV or whatever it's called. Seems that others would have the same issue. I seem to recall that Minnesota has a similar policy. In Wyoming, where I grew up, car owners retain the same license number as long as they stay current but new plates are issued periodically. Plates are passed down generation to generation with certain plates highly prized. Not much else to do out there in the wild west.

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    I believe California motor vehicle law states that there can be NO modifications to license plates. I think that includes repainting, refurbishing, etc., but as someone in this thread said, who is going to tell them? I would just make certain that the colors are absolutely spot on and the paint job perfect. That way it would likely never be noticed.
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    You might want to consider purchasing the correct year vintage plates rather than restoring yours. I purchased a set from Chuck's Plates. http://www.chucksplates.com/?cp=&ss=New%20Jersey
    About $60 for a perfect set of 1957 Maine plates with the correct license tag for 57, proper numbering sequence. In Maine you can put on the YOM plates but need to carry the current year plates in case you're stopped. Has never been a problem although if I decide to scoot through the EZ Pass lane on the turnpike instead of paying the toll, how are they going to determine the tag number?

    golden hawk license plate.jpg

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    President Member ddub's Avatar
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    Mark, That was a good deal on those Maine plates. I had to pay $50 just for the little aluminum 55 tag to put on my 54 Washington plate. I think I paid $60 for license plate.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ddub View Post
    Mark, That was a good deal on those Maine plates. I had to pay $50 just for the little aluminum 55 tag to put on my 54 Washington plate. I think I paid $60 for license plate.
    I was very pleased to find them, especially at that price. He has a good selection of plates from all states.

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    This guy did a nice job on restoring my plates: http://www.mojoartworks.com/default.html

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    President Member 345 DeSoto's Avatar
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    I believe that YOM license plates, from the years we would be using, were plain old paint...no reflective paint, or glow in the dark, etc. modern plates. If proper paint and correct colors was used to restore them...who would know the difference?...

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    President Member 57pack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Clippertown View Post
    This guy did a nice job on restoring my plates: http://www.mojoartworks.com/default.html
    Thanks, I’ll give him a call. Like your Handle! I think I have the only Clipper in my town. I could be wrong, could be one sleeping somewhere in a garage. You never know!
    1957 Packard Clipper Country Sedan

    "There's nothing stronger than the heart of a volunteer"
    Lt. Col. Jimmy Doolittle
    "I have a great memory for forgetting things" Number 1 son, Lee Chan

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    President Member Colgate Studebaker's Avatar
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    I'm not positive, but I think Duane Miller (Deaf Mute on the forum) has done license plate restorations. What I'd suggest is checking with the proper authorities in your state DMV and if restoring the plate is legal, then check with whomever you find that does that work. Duane is a good guy and does excellent work without having to worry about anything. Bill

  18. #18
    President Member 5brown1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Klinger View Post
    You might want to consider purchasing the correct year vintage plates rather than restoring yours. I purchased a set from Chuck's Plates. http://www.chucksplates.com/?cp=&ss=New%20Jersey
    About $60 for a perfect set of 1957 Maine plates with the correct license tag for 57, proper numbering sequence. In Maine you can put on the YOM plates but need to carry the current year plates in case you're stopped. Has never been a problem although if I decide to scoot through the EZ Pass lane on the turnpike instead of paying the toll, how are they going to determine the tag number?

    golden hawk license plate.jpg
    You also should check to see if the plate can be used. I found a perfect set of 1937 plates but the number was already in use. In South Dakota you call
    DMV and they will tell you if the number is usable. Other states may vary just don't spend $ until you know.

  19. #19
    President Member 57pack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Colgate Studebaker View Post
    I'm not positive, but I think Duane Miller (Deaf Mute on the forum) has done license plate restorations. What I'd suggest is checking with the proper authorities in your state DMV and if restoring the plate is legal, then check with whomever you find that does that work. Duane is a good guy and does excellent work without having to worry about anything. Bill
    Thank you for refreshing my memory about Duane. I had used his service years ago for restoring a pair of 1938 plates for our fire dept. I had brain freeze and couldn’t remember his name.
    1957 Packard Clipper Country Sedan

    "There's nothing stronger than the heart of a volunteer"
    Lt. Col. Jimmy Doolittle
    "I have a great memory for forgetting things" Number 1 son, Lee Chan

  20. #20
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    Here is a link to a list of license plate restorers from the License Plate Assn's web site:
    https://www.alpca.org/faq/restorers/

  21. #21
    President Member 57pack's Avatar
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    Thanks everyone for all the inputs!
    Solved the license plate dilemma.
    1957 Packard Clipper Country Sedan

    "There's nothing stronger than the heart of a volunteer"
    Lt. Col. Jimmy Doolittle
    "I have a great memory for forgetting things" Number 1 son, Lee Chan

  22. #22
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    As has been mentioned, it is illegal to alter California license plates, yet I see it done regularly on hot rods and classic cars. The tip-off is when you see a plate that is a standard issue, consecutively numbered seven-digit plate--not a vanity plate--that has been repainted in an earlier color combination. California has had a number of color combinations over the past 70 or 80 years--black on yellow, yellow on black. yellow on blue, blue on white--and they're all still accepted for use. They're just supposed to be whatever colors were current on the vehicle when it was first registered in the state. But the cops apparently don't want to be bothered with something as minor as plate colors. California also recently started re-issuing yellow on black plates, a 1950-60s color combination, as an option for the extra-cost vanity plates. Because plates don't rust away in the western U.S., they can remain in service for many decades. I would think any good body/paint shop would be able to repaint plates if they're willing to skirt a minor law.

  23. #23
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    I am not a license plate restorer but this 54 plate was completely rusted, with some dents and slightly bent. I straightened, removed the dents and rust and painted it. The first color was all black then with an old printing press roller I sprayed the off yellow on it and with one pass with the roller I was done. The farther away you get the better it looks, it will pass the ten foot inspection. I used Caterpillar Yellow from a rattle can.DSC00574.JPG

  24. #24
    President Member 57pack's Avatar
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    I wish NJ would adopt a YOM law, but I don’t think that will happen. NJ had some attractive various color combos in pre 1959 years.
    My family is originally from Connecticut and I remember my Uncle Archie had the white on blue plate on his Rambler stationwagon of EZ1000. Folks would stop him on the road to try and buy his plate number. I guess you could sell your plate to someone else and transfer the number to a different owner? Anyone ever hear of this being done? Wouldn’t ever work here in NJ with the way the DMV is.
    1957 Packard Clipper Country Sedan

    "There's nothing stronger than the heart of a volunteer"
    Lt. Col. Jimmy Doolittle
    "I have a great memory for forgetting things" Number 1 son, Lee Chan

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