California DMV bringing back classic black license plates

The California DMV announced this week that it was sending to the presses replicas of the black license plates from the 1960s. The plates will be available for cars, trucks and motorcycles from all years.
(California Department of Motor Vehicles )

California’s license plates are going old-school.

The Department of Motor Vehicles announced this week that it was sending to the presses new license plates printed in the historic black background and yellow lettering from the 1960s. This means the mug of a finely restored 1967 Porsche 911 or a ’69 Chevy Camaro will no longer be tainted by a bright white modern plate.

“Aside from not salting our roads, California doesn’t often do much for automobile enthusiasts,” said Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Los Angeles). “This is an easy way for the state to enable everyone from the backyard restorer to the nostalgic to the purchaser of a retro-styled automobile to add that extra bit of detail for those of us who appreciate the classic era of automobile design.”

Gatto sponsored the bill in 2012 that would create the historic plates available if at least 7,500 applications were received by Jan. 1, 2015. It proved an easy sell; the yellow-on-black design was among the fastest specialty plates to ever hit the 7,500 application threshold, the DMV said.


Despite their 1960s heritage, the black plates are available for vehicles -- including motorcycles -- from any year. The plates will be mailed to those who pre-ordered in the coming months, though it could take nine to  12 months for the plates to arrive after ordering.

The DMV is also accepting applications for two more historic color schemes: yellow plates with black lettering from the 1950s and blue plates with yellow lettering from the ‘70s and ‘80s. Each of those designs will need to hit 7,500 applications by 2015 for the DMV to issue them.

All plates cost $50 for the initial application, which is refundable if that plate doesn’t hit the 7,500 mark. Renewal will be $40, and drivers can personalize the plates if they wish.

Fees collected by these plates go to the California Environmental License Plate Fund, which funds various environmental efforts throughout the state.