New state bill trying to revive vintage license plate designs

Posted at 9:40 PM, Sep 21, 2023
and last updated 2023-09-22 11:46:46-04

KENTWOOD, Mich. — The out-of-date license plates collecting dust in dad's garage could return to the road if a new bill speeds through the Michigan Legislature.

New state bill trying to revive vintage license plate designs

In a 10-1 vote Tuesday, the transportation committee sent SB 464 to the full Senate.

The bill would bring two designs back into circulation: a black-and-white look (1979-1983) and a classic blue style with white lettering (1983-2007).

Michigan License Plate

"The nostalgia aspect is incredible," said Christopher Hoexum, owner of GR Auto Gallery.

In a sprawling storeroom, Hoexum oversees an operation that collects and sells classic and exotic cars.

"When they buy that car, they want that plate to go with it because it kind of completes that whole package," Hoexum said.

Michigan License Plate

But the brand new owner of an '84 Corvette can't simply ask the Secretary of State for a corresponding, historical plate. Rather, they're required to buy that year's plate from a third-party and then register it with the state.

Through the legislation, Senator Mallory McMorrow (D-Royal Oak) wants to make the two plates more accessible.

"This is for car enthusiasts who are willing to spend a little bit of money to accessorize," she said.

Inspired by a nostalgia-driven, lucrative license plate law in California, the senator first introduced the legislation in 2019, but the bill fell low on the chamber's "priority list" and sputtered.

If passed, the Secretary of State's office would sell the old school designs for $50, for the sake of funding road repairs.

"Hopefully, the extra charge for the plate will definitely put a little more money in the kitty for Lansing," Hoexum said.

In 2021, the state reintroduced the "Water-Winter Wonderland" design from the 1960s. At GR Auto Gallery, Hoexum says nine out of every ten customers ask for the blue-and-navy plate.

Water-Winter Wonderland

"It's kind of the final icing on the cake," he said.

But if more than a million drivers— according to the SOS— lined up for the vintage look, Hoexeum says a state with a "top ten" license plate selection might as well add two more to its rotation.

"They can always up their game for sure," Hoeksum said.

"It is really cool how iconic the blue and white plate was," McMorrow said. "I've got friends from all over the country who say, 'That is what I think of when I think of Michigan.'"