If you own a classic car, it’s understandable that you may want every detail to be authentic and in keeping with its age - and that applies to the number plate too.
Ever wondered how long car registration plates have been around? Well, the very first one was issued soon after the passing of the Motor Car Act 1903 and it contained just two characters: A1.
Not surprisingly, plates from those early days can go for over £1 million.
Since then, it’s been a legal requirement for cars to be properly registered and for their number plates to be displayed correctly. But over the years changes have been introduced to increase the character limit, and since 1973 we’ve had yellow rear and white front reflective plates.
But, what happens if you’re the proud owner of a classic car and want to retain every aspect of its authenticity?
The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency’s website explains that since 2015, vehicles manufactured more than 40 years ago can display the traditional black and silver number plates.
Before you start your order for a number plate though, your vehicle must also be in the ‘historic vehicles’ tax class. Details can be found on the gov.uk website on how to apply for this.
Don’t forget that cars over 40 years old are exempt from vehicle tax. But you do need to let the authorities know by applying for the tax or making a Statutory Off-Road Notification (SORN). It’s just a little piece of bureaucracy to make sure your paperwork is in order (don't forget, you'll need classic car insurance though!).
If you’re eligible for a black and silver number plate, then the next step is to find your nearest registered number plate supplier. They’ll be able to make your number plate to the necessary standard. You can find your nearest official supplier by visiting gov.uk/number-plate-supplier and entering in your postcode.
When you visit your number plate supplier, you will need to take your log book with you to prove that your vehicle is compliant with the rules above, along with some photographic ID.
As a classic car owner, you may want an authentic pressed metal number plate with silver extruded letters on a black background. But cheaper plastic options are also available, and hand-painted digits are acceptable too – so long as they appear white.
For more information on the rules and regulations around number plates, take a look at the DVLA's INF104 information booklet.
If you found this content useful, you may be interested in our other regulation blogs