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Obtaining vintage or original plates for your old Mopar

Hello fellow TVMC members.  Some of you have expressed an interest in how to obtain certain tags for your Mopar in the state of Alabama.  So, I did a bit of research and found some of those answers for you.

The first question that came up was how to obtain an Antique plate for their car and the restrictions that apply to that tag.  Here is what I found.

To begin with there are two types of Antique tags for OLD cars registered in Alabama.  “Antique License” plates were issued prior to 1996 and if you currently have one you are in violation of the statues if you are driving your car with it.  Effective 1 October 1997 the Antique Plate was replaced by the “Vintage Vehicle” license plate.  Here is an excerpt from the code regarding this.

Alabama Motor Vehicle Code 40-12-290 Section (E)(1) states…… “Effective October 1, 1997, it shall be unlawful for any person to operate, on the public highways of this state, a vehicle based in this state and displaying a vintage vehicle license plate not in compliance with subsections (b), (c), and (d). Any antique license plate or tag issued prior to October 1, 1996, shall become invalid on October 1, 1997.

But there is good news if you still have an “Antique” plate….Section (4) states that the…..”The owner of a vehicle displaying an antique license plate issued prior to October 1, 1996, if the vehicle is to be operated in accordance with the provisions of this section, shall surrender the license plate and obtain the vintage vehicle license plate above authorized without payment.”  So, we have good news, you can swap your old “Antique” plate for a “Vintage” Plate Free!

So, this brings us to the second type of OLD car plate, the “Vintage Vehicle” license plate.  This plate is the current plate issued to antique vehicles in Alabama.  So, what is a Vintage Vehicle plate and how can it apply to my Mopar?  Let’s see.  Alabama Code 40-12-290 Section (D) tells us the following… a “vintage vehicle” is: “(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.”

Ok, let’s see; my 1971 Road runner is over 30 years of age, weigh’s less than 26,000 pounds and I do not use it for daily transportation.  So it qualifies, thus far.

Additionally, subsection (2) further restricts us by stating that…. “A vehicle using or displaying a “vintage vehicle” plate issued pursuant to this section shall not be used as a commercial vehicle, for transporting passengers or property, or for use as a service vehicle.” So, I guess if Papa John were delivering pizza’s in Alabama, in his butt ugly Camaro, he would be in violation of our state code and subject to fines.  We will address those in a minute.

Are there any further restrictions?  Let’s see.  This same statute further states the following…. “(3) “Vintage vehicle” license plates shall remain with the vehicle when sold or otherwise disposed of, and the new owner shall transfer the registration into his or her name in accordance with the provisions of Sections 40-12-260 and 40-12-261, if the vehicle will be operated in accordance with this section, and, if not, standard license plates shall be obtained.”

This section tells us two things.  One, the plate remains with the vehicle when sold and two, the new owner is effectively in violation of the code if he cannot live up to the provisions outlined in the previous sections as discussed above and should obtain standard plates.

What else does this statute tell us?  Well just this…. “(2) Any person violating this section shall, upon conviction, pay a fine of not less than one hundred dollars ($100), shall forfeit the vintage vehicle registration and plates issued to the owner for the respective vehicle, shall be liable for the regular registration fee and taxes for the vehicle, and shall be barred from applying for or holding a vintage vehicle registration for the respective vehicle for three years from the date of the violation. This penalty shall be in lieu of any other penalty specified in this chapter for this offense.”

Enough said about that!!

Well, how do I get one and how much is it you may be asking by now.  Let’s see…. “(a) Subject to the requirements of subsections (b), (c), (d) and (e), the owner of a motor vehicle which is herein defined as a “vintage vehicle”, upon application to the judge of probate or commissioner of licenses on special application forms prescribed by the Commissioner of Revenue and the payment of a registration fee of ten dollars ($10), may register the vehicle as a “vintage vehicle” and procure therefore permanent license plates to be issued and displayed on the vehicle.”

“(b) Beginning October 1, 1996, the owner of a “vintage vehicle” which is owned and operated primarily as a collector’s item may, upon satisfying the requirements of this subsection, register the vehicle as a “vintage vehicle.” The owner shall apply to the judge of probate or county official authorized and required by law to issue license plates. The owner shall pay a registration fee of ten dollars ($10). Upon satisfying these requirements, permanent “vintage vehicle” license plates shall be issued and displayed on the vehicle.”

To summarize, you can drive on down to your local tag office, fill out a special form, give the lady behind the desk a $10 spot and walk out with a permanent “vintage vehicle” plate for your Mopar.  Cool!!

Well that is good but are there any other specialty plates available for my old Mopar??  The answer is a resounding, YES!  Here is the low-down on obtaining one.  First you have to go down to your local junkyard or antique store and buy an authentic Alabama State license plate that is the same year as your cars manufacture date.   Then you take it down to the license office and register it as the permanent plate for your car.  Let’s investigate the details.

According to Alabama Motor vehicle Code Section 40-12-297 the owner….I will let you read the code…. “(a) The owner of any vehicle designated as a 1976 year model vehicle or earlier qualified to receive a vintage vehicle license plate, upon application to the county license plate issuing official, in lieu of receiving the vintage vehicle license plate, may request to register an original Alabama license plate, 1976 or previous, including a restored or refurbished Alabama license plate, issued in the model year as designated by the manufacturer of the vehicle, of a type license plate that would have been issued to that category vehicle. Subject to the restrictions herein provided, the license plate issuing official shall issue a permanent vintage vehicle validation decal and attach the decal to an appropriate location on the lower portion of the original Alabama license plate. The issuing official shall also issue a registration receipt to be maintained within the vehicle and presented to law enforcement upon request. The issuing official shall collect the fee authorized under subsection (b) of Section 40-12-290 when issuing a vintage vehicle validation decal and the funds shall be distributed in the same manner as other fees collected for the issuance of vintage vehicle license plates. The issuing official shall be entitled to the issuance fee provided under Section 40-12-271.”

To summarize, if your vehicle qualifies to have a “Vintage Plate” as outlined previously, you may register your car with an original Alabama plate of the same year as your car, permanently.

If you want an original plate, you must present the plate to the authorities for approval.  Sub section (b) states….. “(b) The owner requesting the registration of an original Alabama license plate shall present the license plate to the issuing official for examination, and, upon approval, issuance. In examining the license plate, the issuing official shall check the legibility and condition of the license plate and shall ascertain if the original Alabama license plate would have been properly issued to the category of vehicle for which registration is being currently requested.”

So now you’re thinking, what if I already have a “Vintage Plate” and want to change it to an original year plate?  Section (c) states…. “In the event the owner of a vehicle has applied for and is currently displaying a vintage vehicle license plate and elects to obtain a registration for an original Alabama license plate as herein provided, the owner shall surrender the vintage vehicle license plate at the time of registration and shall not receive a credit for fees previously paid.”

What if the year of my car required front and rear plates back in the day?  Section (f) states…..”In the event front and rear original Alabama license plates were issued, only one original Alabama license plate shall be authorized for display on the rear of the vehicle.”

If your plate is mutilated or stolen, you may register another original plate for the nominal fee according to subsection (e).

Be advised the rules and restrictions outlined in “Vintage Tag” discussion also applies to “Original Tag” vehicles.

One more thing.  Section 40-12-293 states that….. “Except for the provisions of Sections 40-12-260 and 40-12-261, a vehicle which has been registered and licensed as a “vintage vehicle” pursuant to this division shall not be subject to the motor vehicle licensing requirements of Division 1 of this article, nor any other law prescribing or requiring the payment of a license or privilege tax for the privilege of operating the vehicle upon the public roads or highways of this state. Vehicles registered under this division shall be exempt from ad valorem taxation.”

So, for $10 bucks you can have either a “Vintage Tag” or “Original Year” Tag for your vintage Mopar.

Below are some links that you can check out if you have any further questions on this subject.

This link is a color chart of all Alabama tags from 1976 back to 1912


This link is to all the Alabama Motor Vehicle Codes


I hope this has been informative to you and assists you on this subject.

Happy Moparing!!

Bob Glover


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