Vintage California license plates, old California stickers, decals, metal year tabs, frames, and novelty plates.
We have old Florida license plates, too!
We have two different websites where you can view pictures, descriptions, and purchase California vintage license plates, stickers, decals, and tabs (see our QUICK LINKS section just to the right of our logo, under the orange RSS icon).
Since we’ve always enjoyed talking to our California and Florida customers on the phone about the how to find the right license plates for their old cars, and helping them with California’s Year Of Manufacture program, we thought it was time to start writing a blog.
In addition to posting updates and pictures, we’ll continue to add helpful YOM registration tips, information about California license plate history, pictures of unusual or rare California license plates, and other useful information.
We’ll try our best to keep things short and informative – but we do tend to ramble sometimes (like now). We’ll try to update our blog regularly – so check back often, or “follow” us to automatically receive our updates via email.
Thank you for visiting!
We get many phone calls from our California customers about the Year of Manufacture Registration Program (YOM). This was one of our earlier posts, and we thought it would be helpful to run it again, as we seem to be getting more questions about the YOM program.
You’ll need a clear pair of vintage California license plates AND an old year sticker (or metal year tab) that match up with the model year of your vehicle. This includes the popular black California license plates from 1963-1969, and the older plates.
If you have a passenger car that is a 1969 model or older (or a commercial vehicle, 1972 or older, such as a Ranchero, El Camino, or pick up), it is eligible for the YOM program.
Passenger license plates have the 3 letters and 3 numbers configuration; commercial vehicle license plates are different: they have 5 numbers and either a letter at the beginning or at the end.
First the plates: you’ll need a base pair of “clear” California license plates (“clear” meaning that there is no old record on file or that the letter/number configuration is not in use on another year plate, as California sometimes had to re-issue the same numbers/letters on different year plates). You can call the dmv to check on plate numbers.
**Very Important: to go along with the plates, you will also need an old California year sticker (sometimes called a registration decal or tag) or metal year tab that matches up with the model year of your vehicle:
1963-1969 passenger cars: you’ll need a clear pair of the old California black license plates, and an old year sticker for years 1964-1969. We hear from a lot of folks that the dmv likes to see just the ONE sticker on your plates – the old year sticker that matches your vehicle. Since 1963 was the base year, the 63 is already stamped into the upper right sticker well, so no sticker would be needed if you have a 1963 model year vehicle.
1956-1962 vehicles: you’ll need a clear pair of the vintage yellow California license plates, and a sticker for years 1957-1962. Since 1956 was the base year, the 56 is already stamped into the plate, so no sticker would be needed if you have a 1956 model year vehicle.
1947-1955: base plates and metal year tabs were used during these years.
1945-1946: In order to save metal for the war effort, only one plate was issued per vehicle, and a 46 metal tab was used in 1946.
Here are a few vintage motorcycle license plates that we’ve come across.
Motorcycle plates are great for collecting, as they are smaller and don’t take up much space. Generally, they can be a little rougher-looking than passenger plates, as the vibrations from motorcycles are hard on the bolt holes, and they aren’t as protected as those on automobiles.
We want to hear from you!
If you have been able to find “clear” YOM California license plates which have a 6-number configuration, please see our poll below.
Vintage California plates with six numbers have always been a little more difficult to use for the YOM program, as California used the 6-number configuration on a few different types/year plates (a few shown below), so there’s always a chance that the same 6-number configuration is in use on another set of older YOM passenger plates (or on a newer pair of commercial vehicle plates); or on an older trailer, motorcycle, or exempt plate.
Old California License Plates: Collect Them!
Vintage California license plates are great for collecting! They don’t take up much room, look great in a garage, and have been increasing in value!
Some folks collect a California series, either by year (having a plate from each year on a display is very impressive) or alphabetical. Some people like to collect plates that were issued the year they were born.
Recently, we’ve been helping collectors who are investing in the old blue pairs of California tags like these (clicking on the images will bring up more vintage California tags):
Old California Horseless Carriage plates from the 1970’s – great for collectors!
The original Ford Mustang, 50 years old!
We’ve had a couple Ford Mustangs over the years: the purple one below was purchased in 1965, and the blue-ish one, in the early 1980’s. Both great cars, but sold years ago. We still love seeing one on the road these days!
Nevada State Assemblyman 1 and US Senate USS2 and license plates:
We were looking through some old boxes and found these interesting tags from the 1970’s.
Click on the images for more info!
From 1942 to 1955, California Issued Metal Year Tabs for their License Plates
As part of our ongoing series on California license plate history, we thought we’d post pictures of the old metal license plate year tabs that were attached to California plates.
Prior to stickers, these small metal tabs were used on the base year plates: 1941, 1945, 1947, and 1951. The only exception was in 1944, when a square windshield sticker was used, to conserve metal during the war.
If you need one (or two) of these tabs for the California Year of Manufacture Program (YOM), we have several for sale on our two webstores:
Correct colors for the old California dmv registration stickers & decals
Here is another (hopefully) helpful hint if you are applying for the YOM registration program:
On the bottom portion of the YOM application form (shown below), there is a spot for the dmv clerk to fill in the color of your old year sticker. It is important that they write in the correct historical colors. Most of the sticker colors are pretty straightforward, but stickers with a white background can sometimes look a little off-white or yellowish. Indoor lighting often gives off a yellow glow, but if you look at these old stickers in the sunlight, they look much whiter. If the wrong sticker color is written on your YOM registration form, it could prevent your application from being approved.
For years 1957-1969, here are the correct colors – based on old dmv license plate data:
- 1957: Red and Black
- 1958: Green and White
- 1959: WHITE and Black
- 1960: BLUE-GREY and Silver
- 1961: Red and Silver
- 1962: WHITE and Green
Pictures of vintage California license plate stickers and decals, 1957 to 1962:
- 1964: WHITE and Black
- 1965: ORANGE and Black
- 1966: Yellow and Black
- 1967: Blue and Black
- 1968: Pink and Black
- 1969: WHITE and Black
Pictures of old California license plate stickers & decals, 1964 to 1969:
Here is the bottom of the YOM application form – we’ve highlighted in red, the question about the sticker color:
If you need an old California license sticker, we have many for sale:
- Click here to see our California stickers for sale on our ClassicLicensePlates.biz webstore. We are able to list stickers by year on this webstore.
- Click here to see our California stickers for sale on our webstore on Ruby Lane. Stickers are arranged in random order by Ruby Lane (we wish there was an option to list them by year). After you get to our Ruby Lane webstore, you may want to use the store search bar to see all of the stickers we have of a specific year (i.e. “1967 sticker”), as we usually try to have at least three of each year.
We’ve received a few phone calls from folks in California who have the original license plates to their old California car, and are hoping to get them re-registered.
We’ve heard of another process besides the YOM program, that you may be able to use. If you have the right documentation, and the plate number is still clear, you may be able to use your original California license plates on the same car, under the “Reassignment of Old Plates to a Collector Vehicle” program. Please check with your local dmv office for details and to find out what type of paperwork you’ll need.
California YOM Info: 1955 Model Year Vehicles Would Need a Pair of 1951 Base Plates and a 55 Metal Tab
We recently received a question regarding putting some old California license plates on a 1955 model year vehicle.
For the California YOM program, you would need a clear pair of matching 1951 base plates (14×6 plates, black background, yellow characters, with 51 stamped in the lower right corner), and a 1955 metal year tab (gray background with black “55”).
The 1951 plates are a bit harder to find, and always double-check with the dmv that the configuration is okay to use, as some of those older configurations were used again on newer plates.
Most of the old California license plates were made of steel (1970’s and earlier), but we’ve seen a number of 1947, 1956, and 1963 trailer plates that were made of aluminum.
Although the modern-day California license plates are made of aluminum, most of the older plates were made of steel. If you have an older trailer plate, maybe a base plate for 1947, 1956, or 1963, it may be made of aluminum. If you are not sure, you can check with a magnet (if it sticks, it’s steel).
If you are applying for the YOM program, and have an authentic vintage California license plate, made of aluminum, some dmv’s may need to check the old manuals (or data sheets) to verify that some of the older plates were made of aluminum.
Below is a picture of a 1947 California trailer license plate, made of aluminum (no rust!):