I love year-of-manufacture (YOM) license plates. Nothing tops off a fine restoration or a good original better than a pair of license plates from the year the car was built.
Fortunately, I was able to run YOM plates in Minnesota, and took advantage of it by running them on both '55 Cadillacs. (I never added them to my '62 Caddy, since the 1962 Minnesota plate is almost identical to the black-and-white collector plate.)
I received a note from a fellow Caddy collector in Wisconsin who said he's working with a representative who may write a bill allowing YOM plates in Wisconsin, and all I can say is "It’s about time." Because YOM plates are not permitted on cars in this state, I still register most of my old cars to Minnesota under my parent’s name so I can run year of manufacture (YOM) plates. (In Minnesota, you also do not have to run a front license plate on a pre-1968 car, which I also like to take advantage of. This may also be part of the Wisconsin bill.)
They tried passing a bill to allow YOM plates before in Wisconsin, and just a few years ago, but they were not successful. As I understand it, people who helped draft the original collector license plate policy in Wisconsin had a hand in drafting the YOM plate bill that did not pass. When working on the previous YOM bill, these hobbyists were trying to make it so every collector had to have their car registered to a collector license plate, even if they displayed a YOM plate. The problem would be, when an officer pulls up the number for a YOM plate displayed on the car, it would not be in the system since the car was actually registered to a collector plate stored in the car. The officer would have to have the owner pull out their collector plate from the trunk or glove box in order to find its record. Of course, such a process is ridiculous and the bill didn’t get anywhere.
In Minnesota, and in many other states, owners can register their car to the YOM plate or a collector plate. The state collects the same fee for YOM plates as it does the collector plate, but the owner gets to choose which one to register their car under. If the owner wants to register their car with a YOM plate, they must bring the plate to the DMV, which checks to make sure the number is not already taken and the plates are in good condition (and are dated to the year of the car).
The only problem is, when buying a used YOM plate, the purchaser doesn’t know if the number on the plate is taken until they get to the DMV, but I have heard very few people grumble about this or even encounter a problem. Also, if the owner of a 1955 Chevy runs collector plates, they can change to YOM plates at a later date and back again, though they have to pay a processing fee of some kind.
If Wisconsin follows policies enacted by Minnesota and other states, Wisconsin hobbyists with low
numbers can keep and continue to use their collector plates, or they
can register their car to YOM plates. Just not both.
I also think that, if we're going to start messing with collector plates in Wisconsin, the DMV should change the color of the collector plates to something legible. I don’t know the color wheel very well, but I do know red and blue do not mix. And whey the colors are mixed on a license plate, making out the numbers is impossible. Why not the old yellow-and-black again? Nothing says "dairyland" like yellow. Am I right?
If I learn of any traction to YOM plates in Wisconsin, I'll keep you posted right here on my blog.