Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Vintage Plates in Alabama

For years Alabama offered an "Antique Vehicle" license plate for use on cars 25 years old or older. A one-time fee would make your antique car licensed for the rest of its days. The problem was that everyone with an old beater lined up to buy the tags and cut The Man out of his tax. Like politicians are wont to do, this affront to civilization was fixed with a new law.

Now, to qualify for the "Vintage Vehicle" plate the car must be 

(i) a private passenger automobile, truck or truck tractor which weighs not more than 26,000 pounds gross weight, motorcycle, or fire truck, (ii) over 30 years old, (iii) operated as a collector's item, including participation in club activities, exhibitions, tours, parades, and not used for general transportation purposes, (iv) a vehicle having the original or substantially similar vehicle body, chassis, engine, and transmission as designated for that make, model, year, and age vehicle.

Surprisingly enough, the new "Vintage Vehicle" plate becomes part of the car and is transferred with the car if it is sold or otherwise changes hands. The normal tax-me-every-year plates stay with the owner in the event of vehicle transfer in Alabama. 

Recently, Alabama followed the lead of several other states in allowing the use of age-related plates. For example, if you can scarf up a 1953 Alabama license plate, you can mount it on your 1953 Pissaire Highwayman DeLuxe with a special gold "V" sticker available from your local probate court office. You'll need to show them the age related plate that you intend to use and they will inspect it for condition and begin a search to see if the same plate number has been claimed by another vintage vehicle. In other words, the year of the plate does not matter - if someone else has registered that number as a vintage plate from any year, you can't use it. It may take up to 30 days for them to do this search so don't attach that sticker just yet, pilgrim.

If my experience is any indicator, you'll probably have to educate your local probate office. I've got age related plates on my '76 MGB and '73 Mini. Both times, I had to get a supervisor involved and they had to call higher authorities. Be polite, be firm and print out this copy of the law in case they think you're a nut case.    

They may still think you're a nut case, but at least you've got the law in hand.

1 comment:

  1. And they would probably be right about the "nut case". Good article Rodney. I have a 64 tag that I have considered putting on my E-Type.


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