Vanity Plate Rule Upsets Editor

The following is a letter to DMV written September 9, 2004

Bonnie Rutledge
Agency of Transportation
Department of Motor Vehicles
120 State St
Montpelier, VT 05603-0001

Dear Ms Rutledge:

I am writing about the law that prohibits a vanity plate from containing more than 2 numbers. I would really like a good explanation of why this law is in affect.

My request stems from bitter disappointment that I was unable to purchase a vanity plate that I recently applied for – 80 HONDA – for my 1980 Prelude.

Even more disappointing is the fact that I will be unable to purchase the plate that is even closer to my heart – 65 HONDA – for my very rare 1965 Honda S600.

This plate – 65 HONDA – is used across the country by members of our club – the Honda Sports Registry. The plate is registered in New York to Brian Baker, in Maryland to John Deets, in Indiana to Ron Zarro and in California to Scott King. All these plates are on 1965 Honda S600s.

For four years now (ever since I bought my S600 and began restoring it) I have looked forward to the day when I could join the “club” and have my very own 65 HONDA license plates.

People applying for classic Honda plates are probably pretty rare but what about the Ford enthusiasts? This law applies to them to. There must be some very upset Ford owners out there who would love to have a plate like 49 FORD.

I think the “no more than 2 numbers” law needs to be reconsidered. The antique car club I belong to in Vermont – the Vermont Auto Enthusiasts – recently got a new law passed that applies to 1940 and older vehicles and the frequency of their inspection. Perhaps the removal of the “2 numbers per plate” law should be our next consideration for legislation.

Thank you very much for your time.
Ellen Emerson

For English Car Owners

Doris writes: “Inspired by Gene Fodor’s British Car dicta, I thought you might like an addition in Wheel Tracks. I have had this tacked to the garage wall for several years and every word of it is true.”

You probably own an English car if…

  1. You know that:
    • A “bonnet” is not a lady’s head covering
    • A “hood” does not cover the engine
    • A “spanner” does not span anything
    • A “boot” is not a cowboy’s footwear
  2. You always automatically distrust anyone named Lucas.
  3. You always park facing downhill.
  4. People ask how many cars you own and the number contains fractions.
  5. Any discussions of a trip, long or short, always contain references to breakdowns.
  6. You tell your spouse you were out until 3 am because your car broke down – and they believe you.
  7. You call Moss Motors and they recognize your voice.
  8. You reply immediately with month, day and year when asked when your car was manufactured but have to stop and think how old your kids are.
  9. Your idea of a perfect gift is a part for your car – it doesn’t matter what part, as you will eventually use it.
  10. You buy Castrol by the case – not because it’s on sale but because you need that much on hand.
  11. Your favorite TV network is PBS, not because it’s intellectually stimulating but because with all the BBC programming you get to see a lot more British cars.
  12. You actually like the smell of Liquid Wrench.(Courtesy of Mini Owners of America).

“Younger Member” Insights

Every time you turn around someone is talking about our need to attract younger members. As a “younger member” myself I have some insights about this that I wanted to share.

The majority of younger members, are on a tight budget, some living paycheck to paycheck and week to week. This doesn’t allow for big purchases in the many thousand-dollar range (think 1/2 to one year’s salary) that seems to be necessary to purchase an “acceptable” classic car. This leaves younger people with two options:

  1. Don’t buy a car at all and use your paycheck for more practical items like food and the electric bill, or
  2. Buy, maintain and enjoy a car you can afford on your current budget.

Believing myself to be a true car enthusiast I have chosen the second option. While most of the club has been very nice about accepting my unconventional “old” cars, I sometimes feel the unspoken question, “Why doesn’t she have a ‘real’ car?” One answer to that question is “Money”.

With very little dough to spend on my hobby, I have a vehicle that was purchased inexpensively. If someone would like to offer me a loan or a gift of something they consider more “appropriate” I would be happy to take them up on their offer. (Strongly prefer convertible please!)

A second answer to this question is that I like my Hondas – a lot. The first car I ever owned that I really loved was my 86 Accord. Because of my enjoyment of this newer car I became interested in the history of the company and their earliest vehicles. Because of this interest in older Honda vehicles I am then more open to having an interest in other, much older cars. You can’t force someone to like a certain type of vehicle. All you can do it try to recognize the fact that they are enthusiastic about some type of car and to try to encourage and increase that enthusiasm to include other vehicles they may not be familiar with.

Because of all the “increase our younger member numbers” talk, I was very surprised about the discussion last month that considered limiting future show vehicles to the 1979 model year. This would mean that no matter how old a vehicle gets, if it’s newer than 1979 it would not be allowed in our shows and considered a collector car.

One of my “inappropriate” cars is a 1980 and I have been waiting (rather impatiently) for 6 years for this car to become eligible for shows. I’ve put a lot of my time and effort into improving the car and we will be completing a restoration this winter. If the 1979 rule goes into affect, it would mean that all of my time and effort would have been for nothing as far as this club is concerned. This would make me very unhappy. (The understatement of 2004.)

I can only assume that 1) other younger folks are in a similar situation as far as old car budgets go, 2) the vehicles they have been able to purchase are just “used cars”, and 3) the cars they are currently interested in may be newer than what some people consider acceptable. If you put a year limitation on vehicles eligible for show, you will be discriminating against younger members and the vehicles they can afford. If they cannot join the VAE and feel accepted, they are far less likely to ever become interested in truly antique vehicles. A little acknowledgement for a similar enthusiasm can go a long way.

One final “issue” is that many meetings are inconvenient for people who work and who do not live in – or close to – Burlington. The Board of Directors meeting starts at 7 and runs for 2-3 hours. When they finish at 10, I don’t get home until midnight. This makes for a very long Monday and tired Tuesday morning. The same is true of show planning meetings. Working people, and especially those with children, do not want to be out late on a weeknight when they could be home spending time with their family. Thank you for reading and for your consideration.