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  • Old California plates

    Is there a way to find out if a car with old (black) California plates is the correct car for those plates? This car is not in California nor am I.

  • #2
    By "correct" do you mean the plate originally issued..., or plates within the time frame of the original sale? If it is the latter then you might look on Google Images (for all and any brands) in the year the car was built. If the cars with California plates have similar numbers/letters you will know you are in the ballpark. If it is any help I have a '63 Rambler American that is FVM384 and I had a '64 Falcon that was OWF209. So, it seems in a short one year span they went through 15 of the 26 starting letters. A car coming from out of state may throw that theory off. That said the black plate only spanned from 1963 to 1968. In 1969 Californina went to the blue background.

    Note too that California has recently re-issued the black plate as an option. Here is a detailed description https://www.dmv.ca.gov/portal/dmv/de...acyplates/faqs So, it is entirely feasible that someone can order it as a "vanity" plate with a letter number sequence similar to the year of build. The 1963 issued plates have "63" stamped on the right, upper corner (seen in this link https://www.lamag.com/driver/the-col...icense-plates/ ). I do not know it that carried over through 1968. But, I doubt the newly issued black plates would have that. This is just my general knowledge. I'm sure othrs on the site are far more versed in the California plates
    '64 Lark Type, powered by '85 Corvette L-98 (carburetor), 700R4, - CASO to the Max.

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    • #3
      The original style plate for any '63 up Studebaker car would be Black with Yellow lettering; with three letters then three numbers. '56 to '63 it would have been a Yellow plate with black lettering. Commercial vehicles have a different letter/number sequence. '51 to '55 were black with yellow, '47 to '50 were yellow with black, '45-'46 were black with white, '41 to '44 were black with yellow, the yellow on '41 was almost orange, '40 yellow and black, '39 blue and yellow, '38 black and yellow. '30 to '37 were different combinations of black and orange. All had various number/ letter combos. The plates thru '39 were longer than current plates, '40 thru '55 were still long but had large radius corners. They became the size and shape we currently use in '56. From '43 up corner tabs were used for registration years between plate issue years. '44 used a registration window sticker in conjunction with the '42 plate with '43 corner tag.
      Last edited by bensherb; 10-17-2018, 09:49 AM.
      sigpic

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      • #4
        Sounds like you want to know if that plate was originally issue to that car, so you know that the car spent part of it's life in California.
        The last I heard was it costs money for the state to do a search for that information, and I'm not sure all states will even agree to do a search.

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        • #5
          CA DMV contact info here: http://forum.studebakerdriversclub.c...=vintage+plate

          Craig

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          • #6
            If the assumption of post #4 is accurate (that you are seeking to see if a vehicle had an initial California origin) do note that older plates can be reassigned. So, a black plate with letters/numbers common to the time the car was originally sold might not be the plates the car initially had. You must have a matching set of plates in good condition and I believe a registration sticker for the year of the car manufacture. I have seen these stickers for sale on Ebay. I'm still trying to figure out why that is relevant being today you need a 2018 tag indicating you are paid up to date.

            In my case I had a 1973 Datsun 510 that was not registered for 16 years and given to me by a friend. When I went to register the car I was given new plates. I believe that was because the car was “off the books.” Disappointed that I could not retain the original blue background 1973 plates I asked around and was directed to the DMV offices in Sacramento. I signed a form stating the plates were legible, provided them with a Reg. card showing the plates had previously been assigned to the car and receiving a new title and registration / sticker and was allowed to reuse the 1973 issued plate.

            So..., the car in question may have the original plate, it may have re-issued old plates not original to the car, or it may have current "Legacy" issue plates. If you are considering purchase “Buyer Beware.” Ask the owner of the vehicle you have interest in if they have the older registration cards. Back in the 60's it was customary to affix the registration to the steering column in a vinyl pouch held with springs. Some people made a habit of "collecting" them. Also the title (assuming it is a California title) may have the last date issued and if it goes back far enough that would give you some idea of where the car spent time.

            Update: I just found the pink slip for the Rambler. It indicates I acquired it in 1995. So, a seller would have to have the slip to sell the car and it would indicate when they acquired it. If however, it was transferred recently in a situation regarding the death of the owner to an heir it would not reflect the desired information.
            Last edited by wittsend; 10-17-2018, 11:58 AM.
            '64 Lark Type, powered by '85 Corvette L-98 (carburetor), 700R4, - CASO to the Max.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by wittsend View Post
              By "correct" do you mean the plate originally issued..., or plates within the time frame of the original sale? If it is the latter then you might look on Google Images (for all and any brands) in the year the car was built. If the cars with California plates have similar numbers/letters you will know you are in the ballpark. If it is any help I have a '63 Rambler American that is FVM384 and I had a '64 Falcon that was OWF209. So, it seems in a short one year span they went through 15 of the 26 starting letters.

              A car coming from out of state may throw that theory off. That said the black plate only spanned from 1963 to 1968.

              In 1969 California went to the blue plates with yellow letters...cars only.
              Black Commercial plates continued to be issued thru mid-year 1971.

              There was no 1963 tag because when the plates were first issued, had 1963 stamped on them.

              Within a short time, 1963 was removed. You can look at the backside to see if it has 1963 stamped on it...or not.

              When initially issued, the plates were issued by specific DMV offices.

              As I recall, with A/B/C as the first letter, the plates were issued in northern CA, E (and possibly F) plates in the Central Valley.

              The I plates were issued in Santa Monica. In 1963, I personally installed IME 077 on a '47 Ford Woodie and IMH 077 on a '50 Olds 88 Club Coupe.

              I also owned a 1955 Packard Clipper JLJ 828, that I bought in 1967 from a gal who lived in Westwood (West L/A). The plates were issued in Culver City.

              There was a member of this site (Alphues - Jim Swank, who owned a 58L-J8 GXL 890) who could look at the plate, tell you which DMV office issued it, but he has passed away.

              I never asked Jim where the plates were issued and where. I bought the car in 1971 from an ad in the LA Times, sold it to Jim in 1977.

              I know another guy who lives in Los Banos CA that is just as anal as Swank was. He's a member of Ford Truck Enthusiasts (ford-trucks.com). His FTE user name: mrcman58

              btw: CA now allows original black plates to be installed, as long as the number isn't shared by anything else.

              CA also now has has 'Legacy' black personal plates.

              btw part II: StudeRich may know what the first letter of plates issued in Inglewood was, as his dad worked for Frank H. Afton Studebaker.

              I bought a '54 Olds there (my dad was the used car manager at this time): GPF 805

              btw part III: 1939 CA plates were blue with yellow letters and were stamped: CALIFORNIA WORLDS FAIR
              Last edited by WinM1895; 10-17-2018, 12:46 PM.

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              • #8
                Cannot add much to the above info, but will note the following.
                1. California purges its old records after a certain number of years. So if you expect that the state DMV will be able to confirm that a particular plate and number were issued to a particular car, you will be disappointed. However, as post 6 notes, if YOU can prove that a plate was used on a vehicle in the past, then the DMV will allow you to renew it.
                2. As noted above, the 1963 black plates have become very useful way to verify that a vehicle has been in Calif from day one. The numbers started at AAA001 and went from there. Since all Calif vehicles were re-plated in 1963, a lot of passenger car letter combinations were used up in that year -- approximately all the way through the L series. Cars first registered in 1964 got plates that started with M though R. (Since plates were shipped in advance to DMV offices state-wide, these are guesstimates.) The point is that a car with plate XYZ123 probably wasn't registered in Calif until 1968, near the end of the black plate era.
                3. Calif has a YOM law that allows anyone to register an antique vehicle with a set of original black plates. They must be legible and the number must be "cleared" by the DMV that it is not in use. Because of this law, you can see vehicle-number combinations that would not have been originally possible, such as a 1965 car with a number that was originally issued in 1963.
                4. As post #2 notes, Calif now issues yellow-on-black legacy plates. These use a different numbering system, not the original ABC123 format.
                Skip Lackie

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                • #9
                  This thread should be in “Stove Huggers”.

                  That said, the ‘63 Avanti I owned years ago in California was purchased new in North Hollywood and carried plate number GZX 725, so that would fit with the geographical distribution noted above.

                  Originally purchased by Elizabeth Lewis. I have an Aunt Betty, (still active at 102), but that wasn’t her.

                  I still have the plates hanging on the garage wall, but the car was sold years ago and, according to the last AOAI roster I’ve seen, is in Kansas. I’ve been tempted to contact the current owners to see if they want those plates because original registrations back to ‘63 went with the car and with the plates could make a nice display.

                  Tom

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                  • #10
                    If I remember correctly, the California DMV purges its records of non registered cars every seven years. The only way I know of is to look for a California registration card as finding one can at least tell you when the car was registered in California. If the car is a Studebaker, then the museum will have the records to show where the car started its life. California started using black plates in 1963. My 63 Avanti has its original black plates and an ex girlfriends 63 Lark also has black plates. You can usually tell when the plate was issued by the starting letter on the plate. as those plates were used between 1963 and 1969. Letters closer to the beginning of the alphabet will indicate that the plate was issued sometime when the plates were first used and the farther you get down the alphabet, the later the plate was issued. Bud

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by tomlewis View Post

                      The ‘63 Avanti I owned years ago in California was purchased new in North Hollywood and carried plate number GZX 725, so that would fit with the geographical distribution noted above.
                      Probably Ranchero Motors (name later changed to Phil Roach). My former '62 VK6 was bought new there by Pete Boaz, who was a member of the H-E-T club.

                      Roach also sold Chrysler-Plymouth and Amphicar (!).

                      When I bought the Hawk in 1969 or 1970 (forget which), the plates had been replaced as the number was WOK 333

                      The WOK front plate was so mangled, I took it off. No front plate, got stopped by a cop in San Leandro while on my way to a SOCA* meet in Reno.

                      Cop said I'm not going to issue you a fix-it ticket, you live too far away.

                      *Paul Gunder broke away from SDC and started SOCA (Studebaker Club Of America). It lasted a few years, then was merged back to SDC
                      Last edited by WinM1895; 10-17-2018, 02:00 PM.

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                      • #12
                        Lots of interesting added information (thanks to those who added): The commercial plates black until mid 1971, the "63" stamped only on the 1963 issued plates (BTW, my 63 Rambler has that), all cars being reissued plates (probably why my '64 Falcon started with "O").

                        Just a side note that the new black Legacy plates can also be Personalized plates. So, there is a possibility one could still get a specific letter/number configuration (with six spaces) similar to that used in the 1960's..., if they are not already in use. Sadly I've seen them on new cars (like 2018 Challangers) and it is my opinion they look out of place. For 69 and older cars I can understand the appeal.

                        Lastly I have ONE of those 1939 California Worlds Fair plates (found it in an antique store in Santa Rosa back in the 90's). Wouldn't it be great to have a "Platematch.Com" website where people might find their missing "mate?"
                        Last edited by wittsend; 10-17-2018, 02:31 PM.
                        '64 Lark Type, powered by '85 Corvette L-98 (carburetor), 700R4, - CASO to the Max.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by WinM1895 View Post
                          /Cut/btw part II: StudeRich may know what the first letter of plates issued in Inglewood was, as his dad worked for Frank H. Afton Studebaker.

                          I bought a '54 Olds there (my dad was the used car manager at this time): GPF 805/Cut/


                          The Letter "G"
                          '63 Yellow on Black Original, Collectible, 3 Letters FIRST, Three Numbers after, Plates were South Bay Area, Hawthorne and possibly Inglewood DMV Offices.

                          I have GJE3XX I know is from Hawthorne, GMM8XX and one JZU3XX from Altadena, I am not positive if that was it's Original Location in 1963 when issued.

                          In Calif. if a Car/Truck has been Non-Op'd, it will stay in the System forever and the Renewal/or Not, Registration card will go to the last registered address Every Year forever.
                          Last edited by StudeRich; 10-17-2018, 10:56 PM.
                          StudeRich
                          Second Generation Stude Driver,
                          Proud '54 Starliner Owner

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                          • #14
                            Every DMV was issued a stack of license plate. AAA - AAE went to Alturas DMV in Northern California they continued thru KJL-KVZ being issued to the San Diego area. KWA- NSZ went back thru Sacramento headquarters. NTA - RDA was distributed to Las Angeles. This is compiled from a list that I have from the DMV.

                            GJE 3xx was out of the Hawthorne office
                            GMM 8XX was out of Ingelwood office
                            JZU 3XX was out of the Pasadena office

                            I have EMZOxx that was issued to the original owner from the Bakersfield DMV office and sold thru Morris Motors in Bakersfield.
                            If anyone is curious regarding their black and yellow plate email me the number and I can tell you which DMV issued it.

                            Bob Caser
                            mrbobinc

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by WinM1895 View Post
                              When initially issued, the plates were issued by specific DMV offices.

                              As I recall, with A/B/C as the first letter, the plates were issued in northern CA, E (and possibly F) plates in the Central Valley.
                              I don't think this is correct. Living in Sacramanto in 1963, we had 4 cars in the family; my uncle took the plates for all four to the DMV and swapped them for the new '63 plates. All four were consecutive numbers starting with LAH. We still have two of those vehicles, however, only one still has those plates on it, The DMV would not let me keep the standard configuration plate ABC 123, on the 1946 pickup once they made the arbitrary decision all pickup trucks were commercial and forced the use and billing of commercial plates on personal pickups.
                              sigpic

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