Are you intrigued by personalized license plates? Longtime Coronado resident Marilyn Floyd has taken that interest to the next level, and has, for nearly 20 years, been making note of specialized license plates on cars and golf carts here in Coronado that are themed with a reference to our idyllic town. She didn’t set out to create such a list, but after she spotted a few, she started jotting them down on scraps of paper which she put on her refrigerator, along with photos, postcards, and recipes. The list has grown and now it has reached more than 90 vanity plates all with a Coronado theme.
Some clever ones include: 92ONE18, MYISLE, NADO10S, NADOFAM, NADOLVR, NADO4US, THEDEL, TWNADO, NADO4EV, ILNDFAM, NADOAZ, NADOBUG, ILNDFUN, SI NADO, NADOSRF, NADOLYF, NADORX, LUVNADO, NADOGLF, NADOCAB and so many more creative others. One of her favorites is NADOE and she wonders if it represents a baker or has another meaning. These gems add a bit of pizzazz to a vehicle and give insight into the owner, with a mere seven characters or less.
Former City Councilmember and Coronado icon Susan Keith jets around with her USSNADO plates, which she chose in honor of being a sponsor of the USS Coronado. Her snazzy golf cart also stands out with its specialized wrap which is from the design her son Ty Keith did for the Coronado-themed Reyn Spooner shirts that feature the USS Coronado under the bridge and her granddaughter posing as a surfer. Check out Crown City Shirts on Facebook or Instagram.
Floyd has lived in Coronado since 2000, and only planned to stay for a year, but loved it so much she decided to make it her home and raised her son here. An educator, she says she has always had a creative bent and taught English and Physical Education throughout her career. She notes that she’s not particularly into cars and doesn’t have a favorite but loves the creativeness of figuring out what the combination of letters means that people put on their personalized plates. Popular themes include sports, career, hobby, and car-related, and it is estimated that 20 percent of Americans have owned a vanity license plate during their lifetime.
When thinking about states with the most vanity plates, I would have placed California near the top, but in 2007, the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators noted that Virginia had the highest percentage of personalized plates, with 16.2 percent, which most likely correlates to their inexpensive pricing. Texas had the least, at .6 percent, with our golden state coming in 22nd, with just 3.49 percent.
The DMV has specific rules on creating personalized plates, so that they are appropriate and not duplicative, and they reserve the right to approve or deny requests. Learn more about personalized plates at the DMV website.
The origin of vanity plates dates back to 1931 when Pennsylvania began allowing drivers to add their initials to license plates. California joined the trend in 1970 when Governor Reagan signed legislation authorizing California to issue personalized Environmental License Plates, as California’s vanity plates are called, into law. Records now indicate that Californians have more than one million cars with specialized plates, with an estimated 9.3 million nationwide.
For regular license plates, using the sequential 1 series started in 1980, and the 8 series in the summer of 2017, and we’re currently well into the 9 series for non-commercial (number – three letters – three numbers). The DMV estimates that the current sequence will run out in 2027, with a replacement sequence to be determined. In addition to standard and customized plates, there are a host of license plate backgrounds that represent more than a dozen organizations and causes that drivers can order with or without personalization. These range from Breast Cancer Awareness to Veterans’ Organizations, and even Pet and Museum Lovers.
With a keen eye, Floyd has also noticed a few other interesting license plate facts in town. For example, between Sixth Street and Second Street, she counted license plates from 11 different states, which speaks to the diversity of where people come from. Every summer, she makes a game of finding license plates from all 50 states and this year she only has West Virginia left to complete the set.
So, whether or not you have a personalized plate, or are interested in deciphering the ones you see, you can tell a lot about a person as they express their individuality in the sea of vehicles on the road, and it can be entertaining to figure out what the characters convey.