Here Are The Benefits of Antique Plates For Your Classic Car


If you own a classic car, you’re probably one of many who has heard of, or even thought about getting, antique plates. Each state is different with how they make their antique plates look, but all of them are quite distinguishable and let other riders know that you’re riding in a piece of history. If you’re caught in this dilemma, you may be going back and forth about the issue and may want to know the benefits and/or the disadvantages of having antique plates.

So, what are the benefits of antique plates? Having antique plates means you will usually only need to register your classic vehicle once with a one-time fee. You don’t need to do any inspection or emissions testing and you will also save on car insurance. Each state is different with particulars, but this generally applies to everyone.

There are a lot of other things to consider if you’re thinking about registering your classic car with antique plates. I’ve owned several classic cars and have been able to get a good idea about the pros and cons of antique plates. Be certain you know for sure what you want to do with your classic car registration so it saves you a lot of time and effort in the future.

One-Time Registration

One of the biggest reasons people sway more towards registering their classic cars as antiques is because of the one-time registration that is required. Some states do require occasional re-registration, sometimes about every five years, but most states require only a one time registration. Each state is different with their fees, but most states are within the $50-$100 range to register.

The one-time registration means exactly what it says: if you register you classic car with antique plates, you pay the one fee to register it as such and that’s it. When the next year rolls around or the year after that, you don’t have to worry about going back to the DMV or paying a large sum to re-register your vehicle. It’s already done.

I don’t know about you, but having to take my cars in to get a safety inspection and emissions tested every year is really a pain. Especially if you take your cars into places that aren’t exactly trust-worthy and who try to nit pick every problem saying they have to fix stuff in order for you to pass.

The nice thing about owning a classic car and registering it as an antique is that you don’t have to deal with the headache of inspections and emissions every year. Taking a classic car to do an inspection would be an extra pain simply because they’re old machines with outdated parts. Antique plates makes it so you don’t have to do that.

Possibly the biggest reason that people want to get antique plates is because of lower insurance premiums. Most states recognize that if you have your classic car registered with antique plates, you won’t be driving near as much as you would with a daily driver, so premiums are lower. Some think that this is the insurance company’s way to motivate you to get antique plates so they don’t have to pay up as much. Either way, it’s a great benefit to having the classic plates attached to your machine.

The Cons Of Having Antique Plates

Though there are some enticing benefits to registering your classic car with antique plates (also known as historical, classic, or vintage plates), there are also some negative outcomes from doing so that some might want to consider before going through this registration.

Once you register with antique plates, most states restrict you from using your classic car as a daily driver. In fact, most states put a restriction of around 5,000 miles per year. That can really put a damper on owning a classic car because you bought it for a reason. For a lot of people, though, it’s not a big deal because they don’t drive their classic car that much anyway with a regular registration.

If you’re caught driving over the restricted mileage, you can get an expensive ticket and be prohibited from applying for antique plates again for several years. While this may not be a big deal for some, other people aren’t too keen on this because that means they’ll have to do a regular car registration. And a regular car registration means a lot of alterations to their classic vehicle to make it up to today’s standards. A lot of people don’t want to make alterations to their original classic car.

Granted, it may be difficult for authorities to measure exactly how much you’ve driven your classic car throughout the year. Some insurance companies don’t measure that either. However, some insurance companies do require a yearly odometer reading to make sure you’re complying with the rules so you can continue with low premiums. Policemen may also notice your car driving around town a lot more than it should be because classic cars are easy to spot.

Luckily, having your classic car registered with antique plates does give you the freedom to drive to and from car shows, parades, and display shows. However, if you’re unlucky enough to run into a cop that gives you a ticket anyway because he/she suspected you’re driving around too much, it can be a little difficult to prove to a judge that you were at or were heading to a car show.

If you’re planning on having a classic car registered with antique plates, you’ll need to prove to the DMV that you have another car as your daily driver. This car needs to have a traditional registration to prove to the state that you have another source of transportation that will take care of your daily driving needs.

As a rule of thumb, if you’re going to register your classic car with antique plates, abide by the rules and laws honestly so you don’t get caught in a bind. They have those rules for a reason, so just stick to them.

Can You Personalize An Antique License Plate?

Having antique plates on your car can give you a sense of pride because it almost solidifies that fact that you are driving a beautiful piece of history. There’s nothing much like showing off your ride at a car show or riding it downtown for all to see.

The next big question you may have is that if you do end up getting an antique license plate, can you personalize those plates? Meaning can you request what the plates say? Luckily, in most states, you can personalize your plates.

To do this, you’ll first need to think about what you want to have on your plates or tags. You can have a combination of any letters or numbers, but they usually cannot exceed more than 6 – 7.5 characters (the .5 is the space or hyphen in between characters), all depending on the state you live in. It’s a good idea to come up with a few ideas you like because chances are someone has already taken a few of the ideas you’ve come up with.

Once you have a few ideas of what you want your plates to say, you can either go online to your state’s DMV website or go to your local DMV office and request your personalized plates. Do keep in mind that there are rules against what you can and cannot have shown on your plates.

For example, the state of Missouri has announced that “No personalized license plates shall be issued containing any letters, numbers or combination of letters and numbers which are obscene, profane, patently offensive or contemptuous of a racial or ethnic group, or offensive to good taste or decency, or would present an unreasonable danger to the health or safety of the applicant, of other users of streets and highways, or of the public in any location where the vehicle with such a plate may be found.”

All states in the United States abide by the same rules. Just stick with something that you know won’t be offensive or questionable that the state won’t allow. Getting your personalized license plates may take a little longer than getting regular plates as your plates have to be specially made, so be patient. They’ll usually come in the mail.

Cars That Qualify For Antique License Plates

There are a lot of people and institutions out there that have their own definition of what is considered an antique. Each state is different with their definition, but luckily they’re all pretty close to each other with their numbers.

If you’re considering getting antique plates for your classic car, you car needs to be at least 25 – 30 years old. That’s actually not that old when you think about it; technically an early 1980’s Honda would qualify for antique plates. But you probably won’t see to many of those running around town with these types of plates.

The age is pretty much the only qualifying factor you need to get your antique plates. Luckily you don’t need to have the original parts, paint, body, etc to qualify. That would probably disqualify a lot of classic cars out there anyway.

Some people have assumed that you have to get antique plates simply because their car is old. This is not true. It is not required that you get antique plates if you have an old car, it is just an option for people who want them.

Why Registering For Antique Plates Is Available

I’ve often been asked, and have actually wondered myself for a while, about why getting antique plates is even available in the first place. Sure, the perks of having antique plates are nice because it makes it more convenient for us classic car owners, but what brought up the idea in the first place?

It is unclear when the United States started issuing antique plates, but we can assume that antique plates started becoming popular right about the time car shows started becoming popular. Car shows became more attended in the early 1980’s and since then have been a popular event to attend during the summers for a lot of people.

The country began to realize that cars were an important part of history and that there was an effort that needed to be taken to preserve these machines. Antique plates were issued for people to help preserve a piece of U.S. history.

By choosing to have antique plates on your classic car, you’re a part of an effort to preserve your car while also being environmentally friendly. This is why there are restrictions on how many miles you can drive your classic vehicle every year. The occasional use keeps your car in running condition but you’re not running it’s guts out and slowly breaking it down. Not saying that those who don’t have antique plates do such a thing, but having antique plates is part of that preserving effort.

Related Questions

Is there a difference between classic, antique, and vintage cars? There is a difference between these three classified cars, though antique plates can apply to all of them. Classic cars are defined as 20 plus years old, antique cars are defined as 45 plus years old, and vintages cars are defined as such if they were made between 1919 and 1930.

Does having original parts make your classic car worth more? Having an original vs. a restored classic car is a frequently visited debate among car enthusiasts. There are some who prefer everything original while others would prefer updated systems for a safer and easier ride. There is no definition of what is worth more since it is split among society.

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