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Every once in a while the license plate is used as a challenge. I found one such challenge just the other day. It was on a white Pontiac Firebird. It wasn't obvious to the untrained eye, but let's see if you can figure it out. It is BY BY 305 (bye bye 305). Wes Meyer is only 17, and he explained that he has a 350 cubic inch engine in his Firebird, while others have only 305 cubic inch engines. BY BY (bye bye) is a clear challenge to anyone with a 305. He points out that 305's that race him eat a lot of dust. He also said that the license encourages races. Hmm, I wonder if his mother knows all this. Wes reminds me of my youth.

The fifty-nine year old owner of the red 1987 Corvette must have the same thing in mind. He has SO LONG on his Illinois plates. He said it is as in "goodbye".

REVD UP 6 is not quite as direct a challenge, but it certainly fits into the same general category. Nineteen year old Mary Jane has these plates on an '88 white Chevy Beretta GTU. She says, "My V6 is revved up high and can fly!" The car is fast so the plates describe it well. The number six saved her money and also points out to the world that the car has a six cylinder engine. She has a friend that has plates with
REV UP 1 on them.

X UWISH X (you wish) is an Illinois plate on a black '87 Buick Grand National. Joe Anzalone pointed out that in 1987 the Buick Grand National was the fastest production car made. UWISH means that you couldn't win in a race. It was also the last year that the car was made, so it also means you wish you could get one.

Joe says the plates were appropriate for the car in every way. The X before and after UWISH were added because UWISH by itself was already taken. Therefore the plates
X UWISH X were born. Does that mean that there is another Buick Grand National out there that I have to find?

Twenty-two year old Chris Gregoire has two entries. One is clearly in the "challenge" category. It is MNZTER 2 (monster 2). These plates are on his '76 Chevrolet Monza. It is his pride and joy. The car has a 383 cubic inch engine that is "stroked" to make it run faster. It has a large hood scoop. There is no question when you look at it that it is performance all the way. The number two is there because it is his second Monza. It seems that he wrecked the first one.

His other entry is NEXT 77. These tags are on his orange '77 Oldsmobile Cutlass. He has had five Oldsmobile Cutlasses - three that he drove and two that he used for parts. This was the "next" '77 Cutlass that he got.

BOSS 35, on the black '87 Ford Mustang GT, is 21 year old Tony's way of telling the world that he has a powerful 350 engine in his car. The older 350 Mustangs were called Boss Mustangs. He isn't the first one that tried to use BOSS though. He originally wanted BOSS 87 for the year of the car, but it was taken. He said there are plenty of BOSS licenses out there, that's why he had to settle for the number 35.

Another muscle car entry comes from James Enger, who has HIPO V8 (high performance V8) on his white '86 Ford Mustang GT. This designation is a throwback to the 289 cubic inch "HIPO" V8's in early Mustangs (1965-1966 vintage).

RAPID is on the Ohio plates of the red 1993 Porsche RS belonging to forty-seven year old Clay Dopke. This plate has been on every Porsche he has ever owned. He has owned seventeen Porsches in the past twenty years. He reports that performance Porsches are his business. He even included a business card from his company, Bavarian Coach Werkes (presumably so he can sell the visiting expert author a Porsche when the author hits the "big time").

His specialty is big (600 to 700 horsepower) street turbos.
2 RAPID is on his "winter car", a 1992 Ford Thunderbird. 3 RAPID is on his wife's 944 Cabriolet Porsche.

The sleek charcoal Corvette that I found out in Galena, Illinois, has HRDTP 90 (hard-top 90) for its plates. Stephen Jackson chose these because it is a hardtop with a convertible option. That's what I thought. When I saw it, it was definitely a convertible with the top down. This was his third choice when he requested his license. Boy, vanity plates are unbelievably popular in Illinois.

OHWOW 2 (oh wow two) is on a blue Chevrolet Corvette that twenty-eight year old Frank Vallone owns. He said that is just a very common response when people see his car. He has another Corvette with OHWOW 3 on it. His Blazer has WTR VET 1, which, of course, means winter Vette. If anyone has tried to drive a Vette in Chicago during the winter, you know why he needs the Blazer.

[DRC4]TORCH 7 is on twenty-nine year old John Serritella's teal Grand Am. He says torch to him means fast and flammable. He added, "The seven is for lucky".

BUS FST 1 on the green Honda Del Sol is not exactly what the owner had in mind. He asked for BJS FST 1. This stands for Brian James' fast one. He has requested a correction, but he never received a reply. He said that everyone asks what it means, and they like the explanation.

ROLNOVR (rolling over) is on a black Jeep Wrangler that twenty-six year old Matthew Vandermeer drives. He said he was tired of people telling him that he was going to roll his Jeep.

GEEPS is a close as Sharon could get to the correct spelling of Jeep for her 1992 Jeep Wrangler. She chose it because it is cute.

Another variation on Jeep is D JEEP 80 that twenty-two year old Ron Espig has on his copper colored Jeep CJ7. He got the plate to follow the tradition of Chicago sports teams (Da Bears, Da Bulls, etc.) Eighty stands for the year of the Jeep.

MYRED90 is on Kim Jordan's red 1990 Pontiac Firebird. She said, "The car is 1990, the color is red, and it's mine!"

JANZ AM is on a white Pontiac Trans Am that belongs to Janice Wilke. Her first name is Janice (Jan), she used the "Z" to show possession, and the "AM" came from the car name. Catchy, Jan.

Twenty-one year old Kirk has R TOYS (our toys) on his red Thunderbird. It was his parents' idea. They have a handful of cars with R TOYS, R TOYS 1, R TOYS 2, etc. He said, "We have the whole fleet."

ROVOCAR is on a green Range Rover. It's owner said that the name comes from a the fact that the Range Rover is a four-wheel drive all-terrain vehicle. Combining the name Rover with Robocop - because it's indestructible - created this unique license. They also have KAZZZ on their red Porsche 944 convertible (it's a nickname) and FUNSUN on their white BMW 325 convertible.

TORPEDO is on a light blue Dodge Caravan, but it was chosen for another car. The thirty-two year old man with this plate said that a torpedo is "...a navel related weapon. Goes from point A to B with no variance. I used to own a Ford Mustang (grey) and I always considered it like a torpedo in the way it got me from one place to another. Considering all of the dents and dings, some people considered the car hit its target".

LX PWR 1 (LX power one) is on a twenty-two year old's maroon Mustang LX 5.0. He said it means the one with the powerful LX 5.0 Mustang.

It appears that Richard Jawonski has a collection of cars. I found his gold Chevrolet Malibu with SKIS BU 2 (Jawonski's Malibu too). In addition he reported the following:

SKIS CAR - Jawonski's car
ZOOMER - Corvette
PAYD 200 - Hot rod - Plymouth Sebring SE
NO NOTE 3 - Third car without payments
PD KASH 4 - Paid cash for
IM PAYD 4 - Chevrolet Malibu bought and
paid for

My daughter Julie conducted a quick "rolling interview" (both she and the interviewee were driving - or "rolling" - at the time) with a guy in a Grand Prix with GP DASH 2 (Grand Prix - 2) on his plates. The car is fast and it is his second car.

1 LO BOY (one low boy) is on twenty-one year old Chris Allen's customized red Chevrolet pickup. His truck was customized and lowered. The one saved him money on his plate. He said, "It also gets me into a lot of fun drag races!"

X OLDS X is on a candy apple red Oldsmobile Cutlass. Twenty-three year old Diane, who owns the car, races and loves Oldsmobiles. This plate is her way of showing the world both of these. She added the X's to center the word OLDS.

Another Oldsmobile fan is Donna Sheridan. She has
MS QUAD 4 on her red 1992 Oldsmobile Achieva. She said that a quad four engine is in her car. Oldsmobile was first to put a quad four engine in their product. She loves Oldsmobiles and she collects them. She wanted a catchy name on her plate. Her husband gave her the idea. Her sister-in-law has JENZ Q4 on her 1988 Cutlass Calais that also has a quad four engine.

Speaking of Oldsmobiles, IERND 1 (I earned one) is on Nancy Gudeman's blue Oldsmobile Calais. She said she finally earned her own car.

Twenty year old Heather Anderson has a different story to tell. She has a burgundy Buick LeSabre station wagon. The plates say TOOBIG1 (too big one) It seems that the car is her penance. She totaled her first car, which was much smaller and cuter. Her dad had given her the first car, and when he gave her the station wagon (by the way, the car is huge) he made sure that it would be big enough to protect her. She said that it's so big that if she were to turn around and yodel into the back of the car, there would probably be an echo!

BEAST 59, on a maroon 1986 Cadillac Fleetwood, describes the car for eighteen year old Thomas Bestor. One friend of his drove his enormous parents' car. They call it the original Beast. Then another friend got a very large car and they called it Beast Junior. Finally Tom got his car and he saw that it was bigger than Beast Jr., so he decided to put BEAST on his license. He asked for BEAST 1 or the next available number. That means that there are 58 other BEAST's out there in Illinois. Beast Jr. also has a BEAST license plate.

A "combo plate" showed up as LX ADAM 1 on a blue Ford Escort belonging to twenty year old Adam Pusateri. The LX stands for the type of Escort, and Adam, of course, is his name. The one signifies that it is the first of a series.

ADULTOY (adult toy) is on a Toyota Previa. The name is a little misplaced though. The plates were purchased by this fifty-six year old man to put on his former car, an '87 Toyota Supra Turbo which he used to race at the drag strip. He said he never had a fast car as a kid, so he got one as an adult, which was his "ADULTOY".

TMYS SR5 is an Illinois plate on Tammy's red Toyota Corolla SR5. She got to use the number and save money without contriving any special number. She just named the car.

TNASCR 1 (Tina's car 1) on the Illinois plates of Cristina Stezelecki included the number to make it cheaper. They don't have a Chevrolet Cavalier 1, so she had to make up the number.

REAL GT 1 is an Illinois plate on the 1989 Chevrolet Beretta GT belonging to Frank Kolasa. He said that compared to all the other GT's, his is the best. In short it is a "real GT". His buddies helped him figure out the license. The number one stands for first place in all respects.

IMTLNTD (I'm talented) is an effective double entendre. It is on the talented Jodi Keiler's Eagle Talon.

TALNTD 1 is another Eagle Talon entry. Twenty-one year old John Crovedi wanted to get a license plate that had something to do with his car. He said it can also have many other meanings depending upon who reads it or asks what it means.

SSE IT GO (see it go) is on the Illinois plates on a green Pontiac Bonneville SSE. Jeff Jacobson chose it so people might get a laugh. He also has a 1968 Shelby Cobra GT 500 with R COBRA 3.

SSE U LTR (see you later) is on a black Pontiac Bonneville SSE belonging to twenty-eight year old Dave Lopez. He wanted to make a statement on how fast the car is. It is supercharged and fast. He purposely spelled see as SSE because of the model. In response to the question on the postcard, "If there is a number in it, why is there?" he said, "No number, I'm not a cheapo!"

The forty-three year old woman with KWIK TAN (quick tan) on her black BMW 325i convertible said, "The car was advertised as the 'Ultimate Tanning Machine'. Could not fit ULTIMATAN on plate, KWIK TAN seemed like a good alternative - car is fast - I tan fast - Top is down majority of time."

In Cincinnati I found a 1988 Mercedes 560SL with AMOUR on the license. Hmm, a Mercedes 560SL...amour...I wonder. My little mind was racing trying to figure out what this one must mean. The gentleman that owns it insists that it is nothing more than his love for the car, though.

Not so powerful, but important to her nevertheless, is
LIL CRX 3 (little CRX 3) that the twenty-two year old woman has on her little black Honda CRX. She said that three is her favorite number.

The Ohio plate, OLDZ 98 (Oldsmobile 98) belongs to Bill Miller. No surprise that it is on his brown 1988 Oldsmobile 98. Bill has a flair for the obvious. He said it is simply the type of car. He picked it up for an incredible price and it's in great shape. He thought the plate would be the perfect finishing touch. His first choices, OLDS 98 and BILLS 98, were taken.

He is also in the process of restoring a 1961 Mercedes Benz 220 SE, and he plans to get the plate, 61 220SE or 61 MERC or 4U2NV (for you to envy) when he is ready to put it on the road.

Another Ohio offering was MR FORD on an orange 4x4 Ford truck belonging to Brian Lambert. He said he likes Ford products a lot. It is the only thing that he will buy. The plate is his explanation that he is a Ford lover. He has a motorcycle with the plate UHOHH. It seems that he gets pulled over a lot.

The next interesting plate I found back in Illinois. I thought perhaps it had to do with the person's attitude, but even us experts are wrong sometimes (but at least we admit it). It is an Illinois plate on a red Saab 9000 Aero and the plate says GRIPEN. Bill Baughman corrected my erroneous conclusion that he was "griping" about something. He reports that the Saab Company builds aircraft for Sweden. The Gripen is the name of the interceptor called JAS39 Gripen.

He explained that the Aero is a high performance Saab 9000 which needed a name, i.e. the Gripen, which characterized the high performance in the airplane. The name is only used by a Swedish company and incidentally is a Saab.

FAST LN3 (fast lane three) on the Toyota Celica with Illinois plates describes this twenty-three year old woman's reputation for driving fast. Symbolically, the first song that she heard on the car's radio after she bought it was "Life in the Fast Lane" by the Eagles.

My daughter Julie found a 1987 blue Corvette with the Illinois plate BLU HVN 6 (blue heaven 6). The owner simply stated the obvious "blue heaven/blue Vette". I have to agree that owning that car would be heaven.

CJS BABY (C.J.'s baby) is one thirty-seven year old woman's way of expressing her "pre-mid-life crisis". She said she always does everything by the book. Her car, though, is a cute, hot teal Chevrolet Camaro. It is definitely her "baby" and it is not a "by the book car". It's also a lot of fun to drive.

4WNDN (4 wheel Indian) is a California plate on a charcoal Jeep Cherokee. Get it, the Jeep is a Cherokee Indian.

MOVIDA 2 (movida means movement in Spanish), is Tammy Estremera's way of describing her yellow Honda Accord. Her husband started the idea with his Chevrolet Camaro IROC. It has MOVIDA 1. Those IROC's give a whole new meaning to movement no matter what the language, if you know what I mean.

The Estremeras have another plate on yet another car. It is WETEEE 1. It is the first initial of each member of the family's first and last names: Willie Estremera, Tammy Estremera and Elvis Estremera. Marilyn Hilb happened to find this group.

When I was a kid growing up in the fifties, it was cool to have a fast car. In fact, Americans young and old were having a love affair with their cars. Automobile advertising touted the styling, speed and agility of the cars to the exclusion of all else, except their sexiness. All that is long gone. Advertisers talk about safety, gas mileage, air bags, etc., etc. Young people haven't changed though. The comments I am getting from these youngsters could have been coming from me over thirty years ago. I guess Americans are still having a love affair with their cars. At least the young Americans are.


©1994 by Dennis R. Cowhey
All rights reserved.
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