Legislation authorizing the return of classic California license plates was introduced so long ago (in 2012) we almost forgot about it.

L.A. area Assemblyman Mike Gatto this week announced that some of those plates are finally coming to your favorite ride.

The DMV has started producing a run of “black plates,” and those who ordered them should receive nice rectangular package in two to three weeks, the lawmaker said.

The black plates, issued from 1963 to 1969, are revered by car collectors because they mark a golden era for enthusiasts, a time when American muscle cars, often marketed with young Californians in mind, hit the streets in droves.

Black plates were the proper tags for first-generation GTOs, Mustangs and Camaros, and for second-generation Corvettes (like the one seen above).

For restorers and collectors of these now-cherished rides, nothing else will do.

Orders for the the reissues, part of Gatto's California Legacy License Plate Program legislation, came in fast and furiously.  

They were “among the fastest specialty plates ever to achieve the 7,500 applications necessary to be issued,” Gatto's office says.

*This time prisoners won't be producing the plates, as they did way back when. The original molds are being used. But a machine is doing all the painting.

Credit: Jerry Woody/Flickr

Credit: Jerry Woody/Flickr


Aside from not salting our roads, California doesn't often do much for automobile enthusiasts. 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.

*Correction: Gatto's office says the plates will be made in a prison facility that employs 110 inmates.

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