Classic, or old, car registration plates are generally speaking, constructed of pressed aluminium and feature a black background and white or silver characters.
These old number plates can only be displayed on vehicles that qualify for the rolling 40 year tax exemption rule, which as of 2021 is cars registered before 1980. This means that you cannot buy old car registration plates for any vehicle produced during or after the 1980s.
Originally, back in the early 20th century, old number plates were hand-painted by sign-makers for the most part.
However, thanks to the massive increase in vehicles since those days, this has become completely unsustainable and much more modern machinery and tools are now utilised, instead.
Some of the different variations of old car registration plates include cast aluminium plates. With these, molten aluminium was utilised by being poured into a custom-shape mould which correlates to the characters on the old car registration plates.
This meant that these old license plate numbers, characters, and backgrounds, are cast into a solid shape. The heavy-duty nature of these old license plate numbers meant they were ideal for larger, industrial vehicles such as those used on farming and for other agricultural purposes, particularly in the 1920s.
Other styles of old car registration plates are raised riveted silver and white plates, which use hand-riveted raised 3D digits applied to black aluminium plates in either white or silver. This is in addition to black and silver acrylics, which are generally used on race cars and feature white or silver characters on a sprayed black plate.
Finally, there are horizontal ribbed number plates. These old number plates are comprised of a sprayed black acrylic, with corrugated silver characters featuring on top. These are particularly used on vehicles of the 1960s at classic car shows in the UK.
Until the middle of 1930, old number plates were also used on motorcycles, being hand painted with 2.5 high inch characters. Most bikes also featured curved old number plates in the UK until they were replaced by black-backed plates with aluminium silver digits which were used until 1973.
Up until 2020, the case was therefore that these classic or old number plates could only be displayed on vehicles up until 1973, but this has now been updated to include vehicles manufactured up until 1980.
You can still buy classic or old number plates for certain vehicles, just remember that the vehicle needs to have been registered before 1980 for it to be eligible.
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