Going retro? Michigan bill would allow classic license plates for $100 fee

Blue and black plate would be available

Michigan license plate, 1990–2001 with June 1999 sticker (State of Michigan)

A Michigan state senator’s bill is aiming to give drivers the option of having the classic blue and black Michigan vehicle license plates for a $100 fee.

Sen. Mallory McMurrow’s (D-Royal Oak) Senate Bill 1146 also would allow the Secretary of State to readminister the blue license plates Michigan used from 1983 until 2007, as well as the black plates issued between 1979 and 1983. The bill was first introduced in September 2020, but was reintroduced earlier this month.

“Any Michigander who grew up here in the 80s and 90s remembers the simple, iconic design of the license plates during those eras,” Sen. McMorrow said.

The blue and black license plates would be available to all drivers in Michigan for an added fee of $100. The revenue generated from the retro plates would go toward the state’s transportation fund, and ultimately used to fix the state’s roads.

“Classic plate designs give Michiganders the ability to celebrate our unparalleled car culture,” said McMorrow. “Bringing back the blue plate offers a creative way to generate much-needed revenue to help fix the roads without raising taxes.”

The state switched to a white plate with blue letters and numbers in January 2007. The state plans to keep the white plate as the standard issue.

Michigan License Plate -- white with blue letters, with "Pure Michigan" campaign, first issued in 2013. (Gojira91)

“The classic plate designs will go a long way toward instilling pride in Michigan’s reputation as the cradle of automotive development,” said Shawn Pomaville-Size, Executive Director of the MotorCities National Heritage Area. “MotorCities National Heritage Area can attest firsthand to the growth in economic development that is based on auto heritage tourism.  We are happy to support the classic license plate design knowing it will produce a positive influence on both our culture and our economy.”

About the Authors:

Ken Haddad is the digital content and audience manager for WDIV / ClickOnDetroit.com. He also authors the Morning Report Newsletter and various other newsletters. He's been with WDIV since 2013. He enjoys suffering through Lions games on Sundays in the fall.

Dave Bartkowiak Jr. is the digital managing editor for ClickOnDetroit.