I recently got new license plates for my two cars.I can hear it now – how can he possibly get a blog post out of new license plates? Like this.
This one is not bad, as modern license plates go. It is a little countryside scene with a covered bridge at the bottom. I guess covered bridges are kind of an Indiana thing, though living in a large city in the twenty-first century covered bridges have nothing to do with my daily life. I would think that a stretch of interstate highway would be more representative, but then there is really nothing “Indiana” about a stretch of interstate highway. But I digress.
I remember when we got new license plates every year. As a kid I was always excited to see what color the new one would be. We had a pretty good run where the 1961 plate was the same maroon and white as our 1961 Oldsmobile and the 1965 plate was the same dark green as our 1964 Oldsmobile.I liked the combination of a solid color plate with contrasting numbers. Some places, like California, issue a plate when a car is first sold and it stays with that car as long as it rolls. We did the opposite – the plate attaches to the owner and must be transferred with each car purchase.
Somewhere along the line someone got the idea that license plates should be artwork. I don’t really understand this view, because why do I want to see the same piece of art on every car on the road? But that’s where we have come, along with plates now lasting maybe 3 to 5 years before replacement (with current stickers to affix for intervening years).
Choosing the design of a new license plate has become an event, with lots of people of (apparently) questionable taste being involved. Sometimes it is the professionals, such as when “Wander Indiana” was used as a slogan on our license plates. We got an Indy 500 race car one year, which makes a certain sense, though it has as much to do with most of the state as the covered bride does.
One year lightning struck and we had a particularly dignified plate which included a representation of the torch and stars that are found on our State Flag. It was a good three years with those plates on our cars.But some time ago the Plate Profusion got started, and there are now something like six million designs that you can choose from, depending on which causes you wish to hawk. You can display plates from one of thirty two Indiana colleges and universities. Yes, I counted them. I wonder why Purdue University gets separate plates for three of its campuses while Indiana University gets only a single version.
There are nineteen plates with military designs. I don’t mean to sound unkind, but should Pearl Harbor Survivors really be behind the wheel in 2020? Then we really get rolling with the organizations that are recognized in our plates. I guess it is good that supporters of the Indiana Recycling Coalition and the Indiana Coal Mining Institute can peacefully coexist on the same government gravy train. But I don’t want to get between Ducks Unlimited and the National Rifle Association. That could be dangerous.
Sometimes I think that an ugly standard plate is a strategy for juicing the sales of all of those that cost extra. I have known plenty of people who said something like “I only got this one because the regular plate is so ugly.” Personally, I don’t see the benefit in paying more than the minimum to register my car, so I suppose as long as the standard plate doesn’t pay homage to Devil-worship or some such, I will just try to look at other parts of my car. Although the Studebaker Museum plate could make me change my tune.
It just now occurs to me – are these actually made by prison inmates?
Some day I might enter one of those plate-design contests. My entry will be a design that consists of a solid dark background with large off-white characters. Maybe the dark green is ready for an encore. I remember 1965 as a pretty good year.