When we first looked at the “ChevyBaker” it had a vanity plate that read “EL FLOPO” and we hated it immediatly.
When we asked about this the previous owner (TPO) stated the 50’ model was a flop. This is a weird statement when compared to the sales over the years. 1950 was simply the best year ever for Studebaker!
With the above settled, at least in our minds, we knew we did not like the plate and simply opted for a regular plate from the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). We also knew this would be temporary.
A seemingly unrelated irregularity was the year on the title was wrong - TPO thought it was a 1948 and as such the title said "1948". This again was odd since the body tag is right there and he had the 47-50 Studebaker Shop Manual. He should have seen on page 3, with the heading of “Starting car serial numbers of the 1950 models are as follows”, that model 17A started at serial number 4839001. The body tag plus the serial number means this is a 1950 Commander. But enough of why it was wrong – let’s just say it WAS wrong.
While we were getting the title transferred, we pointed out the year and this immediately stopped the process. The DMV clerk said something to the effect of: “If you want this fixed you have to see the California Highway Patrol (CHP).” We left the year as 1948 to move past this moment.
Fast forward 4 ½ years - In anticipation of visiting the CHP we wanted to ensure that we had everything in proper order. Lights, mirrors, glass, mufflers, front and rear license plates. Then after reading the required document from the CHP website (REG 31) we saw that a “Vehicle Verifier” could perform this task. We called a verifier and they agreed that they could fill out the document and DMV would accept this as proof for changing the model year. Yah!
While we could have left the plain license plate, we knew we eventually wanted something unique. We used the DMV website to look up vanity plate image/lettering combinations and found some we really liked. This came to an abrupt stop when we discovered "Year of Manufacture" (YOM) plates. Like many other states – California made plates with the year of manufacture in the corner of the plate itself. If you can find an original YOM plate you can “restore” the plate and place it on your vehicle. Note: plates MUST be original, not reproduced. The year and the type (commercial, passenger, motorcycle, trailer) must be correct for the intended use. In California they did not print new plate styles for each year but would add a metal corner tag to change the year until the entire style of plate changed. With all of the above stated we needed a 1947 plate with a 50’ corner tag that is suitable for a passenger vehicle. The answer was, of course, EBAY.
For you forward thinking types you may have noticed there is nowhere to place the Month and Year registration stickers. Per the DMV website additional sticker tag must be used to display the current registration.
With all of the need parts purchased along with a license plate frame (circa 1940 – 1955) we took everything to our selected vehicle verifier. The process in their office was a bit odd. The verifier actually, and perhaps smartly, use a series of websites to look up the cars specifications. The dominate site was the Classic Car Database but we did offer the use of our 47-50 shop manual and several pages were copied. We evenually looked at the ChevyBaker for about 20 seconds and that was to confirm the serial number. Now we firmly believe that you could not pay enough money to make us stand in line at the DMV. You CAN however pay a verifer to do just that - and we did.
In a move that is so process driven, or restated - stupid, the verifier reported that DMV would not accept the YOM plates because the corner tag was not "bolted" to the plate. This will eventually be the bolt that attaches the plate, the corner tag, AND the year sticker holder to the car. However, the verifier knowing this could be an issue produced bolts and attached the corner tags to the the plates, right there in the DMV office. (Well done)
Now that all of the parts where shown and all of the paperwork completed we only had to wait 5 weeks for DMV to complete the process. Then finally we get to have a really cool, old school, plate on our 50’ Studebaker. Here is a photo of the YOM plate but still needing the month/year registration sticker. It appears that the DMV did make a mistake that we are looking into. The YOM plates are suppose a month sticker is that matches the annual year sticker color. Of course they sent the standard month sticker that is white with blue letters. As the registration is due in May we will try to resolve this during the registration process.
Now the downside was we needed to install the original bumper so we could have a front plate. (for the verifier we assumed) We also had to purchase 2 of the metal corner tags so we could show we had 1 for each plate. This was really a waste because as soon as the paperwork was submitted to DMV, we removed the front bumper along with the front plate.