Saturday, February 28, 2009

License Plate options for Classic or Antique Vehicles
By Rod Hemmick

For many people, part of the pride of ownership of a Classic or Antique vehicle or Street Rod is being able to display license plates on their vehicle that are not the “standard current issue” type that you find on every other car on the road.

Being able to have a special license plate that identifies your vehicle as a “Classic” or “Antique” vehicle is a nice way to show the pride that you take in your vintage vehicle. Many states, including Texas even allow the use of license plates to be registered on your vehicle that are the same year as your vehicle. This is commonly referred to as a Year of Manufacture (or YOM) license plate. For example, if you own a 1932 vehicle, you can register actual 1932 license plates on your vehicle. For many, this is the “ultimate” license plate to display on their vehicle which can be a finishing touch to the authenticity of your special ride.

Since each State has different laws regarding what type of license plates can be issued to Antique and Classic vehicles, there is no one single set of rules on how to get specialty (including YOM) license plates for your vehicle. Furthermore, it is always best to check with the proper authorities in your state as the final authority on these laws.

We will begin this series with the laws governing the issuance of Antique and Classic license plates for the State of Texas. In future articles, we will be covering these same laws as they apply to other states, as requested by our readers. It is important to keep in mind that this group of articles will be applying to the laws for the State of Texas only and should not be considered as a guideline for requirements for other states.

In the State of Texas, your vehicle must be at least 25 years old in order to qualify for special license plates and can be registered as a “Classic” or “Antique” vehicle, depending on your plans for driving your vehicle on public roads. The types of vehicles that qualify are passenger cars, trucks and motorcycles, and you can even register a vintage travel trailer with “Classic” plates.

In this series of articles we will begin by explaining the requirements for registering your vehicle as either a “Classic” or “Antique” vehicle. This will include how to get YOM license plates registered on your vehicle as well. To clarify, Year of Manufacture license plates are not a third category but rather you can opt to use YOM license plates under both the “Classic” and “Antique” registrations instead of using the currently issued Classic or Antique specialty plates. Links to Texas Department of Transportation website for forms and additional information are listed below.

Antique Vehicle Registration – A passenger car, truck or motorcycle that is 25 or more years old and is used exclusively for exhibition, club activities, parades, and other functions of public interest. The vehicle will in no case be used for regular transportation and will not carry advertising. A vehicle in route to and from a location for routine maintenance is allowed.

Applicants that have license plates, which are the same year as the vehicle may use those plates in lieu of Antique License Plates issued by the county. If the application is mailed, the applicant MUST have the license plates examined at their local County Tax Office before submitting the application. The license plates must be Texas license plates, the same year as the year model of the antique vehicle, be in good readable condition, and have the correct color scheme. A current valid inspection sticker is not required on your vehicle if it is registered as an Antique vehicle. Antique license plates are issued for five year periods. If your application is approved, you will receive a set of Antique License plates or a tab to attach to your YOM plates.

Classic Vehicle Registration - A passenger car, truck, motorcycle or travel trailer that is 25 or more years old may be registered as a Classic Vehicle. Vehicles must be fully registered like any other vehicle, which includes having an annual safety inspection done on the vehicle and displaying a current inspection sticker. Vehicles registered as Classic Vehicles may operate on any roadway just as a normal modern vehicle and may carry advertising. The same rules apply for YOM license plates for Classic Vehicle registration as described under the Antique Vehicle registration section.

Classic Vehicle plates must be renewed every year the same as standard license plates.

Year of Manufacture license plates – May be used in lieu of Antique or Classic plates and must be in good readable original condition or restored and must be the original color scheme and be the same year as vehicle.

Original 1936 license plate in good readable condition:

License plate professionally restored in correct color scheme as original:

The following link for the Texas Department of Transportation has information on special license plates for vintage vehicles. There is a separate “Antique and Classic” link on this page for each type of registration (i.e.: Classic Auto, Classic Motorcycle, etc.). Costs for each type of plate are listed as well as a link to download the necessary form for registration as well as address information for each County if you plan to mail in your registration paperwork. A fax number and instructions are also listed.

Under the links for Classic Auto, Classic Truck, Classic Motorcycle and Classic Travel Trailer, there is an option to order a personalized plate and even a search box to determine if your desired personalization is available. If ordering by mail, there is a section to include the standard fee and also the fee for a personalized plate.
Forms for these plates may also be downloaded from the following Texas Department of Transportation link. Click on the “Antique and Classic Vehicles” link at the top of this page:
If you have a specific question or problem you can reach the Texas Department of Transportation’s “Specialty License Plates” office at 512-374-5010. Be sure to get the name of the person that you spoke with, especially if they were helpful and/or knowledgeable about the registration process.

In summary, the basic guidelines for registering your vintage vehicle with “Classic” “Antique” or “Year of Manufacture” license plates are as follows:

1. Vehicle must be at least 25 years old.
2. If you are registering “Year of Manufacture” license plates, they must be the same year as the vehicle being registered and must be authentic license plates that were made by the State. (Reproduction license plates are not allowed).
3. Passenger car and truck license plates were issued in pairs for all years except 1945 and 1946 when only a single license plate was issued. This means that if you are registering a vehicle with “Year of Manufacture” license plates, you must have BOTH plates (unless the vehicle is a 1945 of 1946 vintage vehicle).
4. The license plates must be in good readable condition and they can be restored if they are not in good enough condition. The license plates can have some holes in them and/or some rusted areas, but the readability of the plates cannot be compromised by these holes or rusted areas.
5. The license plates must be the same color scheme as they were when originally issued.
6. If you are registering your vehicle as a “Classic Vehicle” for daily use, the vehicle must carry a current safety inspection sticker and proof of insurance is required.

A note about truck license plates: Prior to 1925, both passenger cars and trucks shared the same license plate, there was not a special license plate for trucks. In 1925, a different plate was issued to trucks, but they did not carry the word “Truck” on them. Instead they carried the work “COM” of them which stood for “Commercial”. These 1925 “COM” plates were a different color scheme than the 1925 passenger car plates. So if you are looking for license plates for your 1931 Ford Model A pick-up truck, you would need to have a pair of 1931 “CM” plates for your vehicle.
From the period from 1925 through 1942 “Truck” plates carried either “COM” or “CM” on them designating them as “Commercial” license plates. Due to the metal shortage created by WWII, small metal tabs were used in Texas in 1943 and 1944 to re-validate the 1942 plates. (Future articles will cover the complete history of Texas license plates so stay tuned). In 1945 the “COM” was dropped and the work “Truck” finally appeared on the license plates and remains to this day.

Note: According to the State, if you are registering a vintage truck, you must have either “CM” or “Truck” YOM license plates (depending on the year of your vehicle). You cannot register passenger car license plates to a truck.

While there have been some YOM passenger car license plates issued to vintage trucks, and you may have seen vintage trucks with YOM passenger car license plates, this is an oversight by the county that issued the plates. There are rumors going around that it is ok to register YOM passenger car license plates on a vintage truck, and it is even reported as ok by some web sites, but if the county where you get your plates registered is familiar with the rules governing the registration of YOM plates, they will not approve YOM passenger car license plates for use on a truck.

If you are planning on using original “Year of Manufacture” license plates for your vehicle and you do not have your plates yet, here are some guidelines to consider when looking for a suitable set of plates:

1. The “straighter the better” – plates that are badly dented or bent can be more difficult and costly to restore and generally will not look as good when restored as a nice “straight” pair of plates.
2. Avoid plates with serious rust damage if possible – Light surface rust is fine, but plates that are rusted to the point of being brittle or have parts missing due to rust damage (i.e.: one corner rusted off) can be a real challenge and very costly to restore. Also if the State feels that this rust damage can compromise the plate’s readability, they will not register the plates. Plates with “saw toothed” rust damage along the edges of plate are hard to repair and can cause problems when restored.
3. Extra holes in a plate are ok as long as they do not compromise the plate’s readability. These can be left alone or repaired during restoration.
4. If the plates need to be restored you can do them yourself (if you are up to the challenge) or you can have a professional restoration service do the plates for you.

If you elect to have your plates professionally restored it can be well worth the cost as a nicely restored pair of license plates can be the finishing touch to a nicely restored vehicle. A poorly done or very “amateur” set of restored plates, while they may be able to pass the State’s registration requirements, may not look so good and can even detract from the looks of a nicely restored vehicle.

We use and recommend Rod Hemmick for license plate restoration. Rod has over 15 years experience in restoring license plates and is also a has been member of the Automobile License Plate Collectors Association (ALPCA) since 1981. He is very knowledgeable about the types and colors of Texas license plates and has even been used as a reference by the State of Texas in one of their publications on the History of Texas License Plates. Rod has also agreed to help friends and customers of Motorheads with any questions they may have. He has a large inventory of YOM plates and may have the year you need for your vehicle. If he does not have the year you are looking for, he can advise you on ways to find the plates you need.

For information or quotes on having your license plates restored by Rod Hemmick, please e-mail him at:

Editor’s Note: We hope you have enjoyed the first installment of articles on classic car license plates. Our next article will appear next month - Andrea

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Monday, February 23, 2009

New Billet Float Bowls Prevents Hesitation, Stumble & Flooding!

Imagine attempting to drink….from a bowl….while blasting through a corner or ripping down the drag strip at full speed doing 60 feet in less than one second! This is exactly what your carburetor is trying to do. We've all experienced when our acceleration "bogs" when we least want it to.

The Holley carburetor has served us well for over 100 years, but the design is dated. The number one problem is the float bowl, a design that was proven on the dyno rather than the track. Fuel sloshes, splashes and spills under the high corning forces of today’s race cars. At best the fuel distribution varies from cylinder to cylinder by as much as 50%, at worst the car hesitates and stumbles.

Race Pumps new “Patent Pending” multi-chambered billet float bowls bring the Holley (still racings preferred carburetor) up to date! Each jet has it’s own fuel chamber, float, and needle and seat (the power valve uses a third chamber). The carburetor is changed from a pair of two barrels, each with a float bowl shaped like a bath tub, to four one barrels, each with a float bowl and float designed for high g-forces and angles. Carburetors equipped with the new Race Pumps float bowls maintain equal fuel distribution to each cylinder at acceleration forces up to 3gs and angles up to 45 degrees. Hesitation, stumble and flooding will be history. Best of all, Race Pumps new float bowls bolt right onto your favorite carburetor.

Motorheads is pleased to be a factory authorized dealer and installer for Race Pumps' new Billet Float Bowls and their entire line of race pumps and fuel systems. The new Billet Float Bowls will be available in March and can be purchased direct from Motorheads Performance. Visit us at or e-mail for ordering information.

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Sunday, February 15, 2009

Award Winning Car Cover
Costa Mesa, CA

The Touchless Car Cover is not your father’s car cover! The revolutionary new design in car covers was introduced and demonstrated at various locations during the collector car auctions in Scottsdale AZ after winning the coveted CAR ACCESSORY OF THE YEAR.

The Touchless Car Cover is A DRIVE IN-DRIVE OUT COVER. It addresses the various shortcomings of the traditional car cover. These issues include smudged windows, grinding dust into the finish, difficulty in use, cleanliness and storage. The Touchless Car Cover can be used indoors or outdoors thanks to a high rated UV coating and waterproofing. It also offers access to the car from either side while the cover is in place. Additionally, the Touchless Car Cover can fit more than one car and installs or folds up in less than a minute.

Developed by “car guys”, the Touchless Car Cover has been designed for automobile enthusiasts, collections and for those with a dislike of the old fashioned car cover. Jay Leno invited Touchless Car Cover to his famous “garage” in Burbank, California, where Jay filmed the TCC in action. The Touchless Car Cover has also had a writeup by Hemmings Motor News (

Since the appearance with Jay Leno, the Touchless Car Cover has been improved and perfected through a series of prototypes. For more information, visit for online video demonstrations and a gallery of photos. The Touchless Car Cover is now available through Motorheads Performance or direct from TCC. Contact andrea@motorheadsperformance for more information.

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Saturday, February 07, 2009

Motorheads becomes Waldron's Antique Exhaust Installer

Motorheads is pleased to join forces with Waldon's to provide quality OEM Type exhaust systems for classic and antique cars, and specifically Waldron's IMPOSTOR™ Performance mufflers, DCE™ (Driver Controlled Exhaust) & VOE-2 dual-mode mufflers.

Waldron’s Antique Exhaust manufactures exhaust systems for cars & trucks built from the early 1900’s through the 1980’s. They have been reproducing OEM exhaust systems and manufacturing custom exhaust systems, exhaust pipes, Y pipes, H pipes, mufflers and resonators since 1960.

John Delorean originally invented the "Tiger Button" in the 1960's, and worked with Pontiac in trying to bring it into production. Cost of tooling the project (estimated to be about $40,000 for a $200 option), as well as changes to the 3x2 carburetor setup and other modifications kept the project out of production. It wasn't until 1970 that it appeared as an option in the GTO (Code W73/Option Order Code 611 for Vacuum Operated Exhaust).

What is DCE/VOE? Imagine your car's exhaust being unleashed into a powerful, head-turning rumble. Simply put, with the pull of a knob, an actuator on each muffler is opened, rerouting the exhaust for what Pontiac called a "special performance mode". But these are far more than basic exhaust cut-outs. Back in 1970, when the feds were strangling power from automobiles, the death of the VOE was quick. Only 233 GTO's were built with the option, and it wasn't until Waldron's got together with patent holder Jim Hall and re-invented the system.

As Waldron's explains, "For a brief period in 1969 & 1970, GTO buyers were able to purchase an option known as “Vacuum Operated Exhaust”. It was one of the industry’s most unusual options; dual-mode mufflers - controlled by the driver - that could be operated in “Quiet” or “Tiger” (Open) modes.

The VOE-2™ Model is available for 70-72 GTO/LeMans/Tempest. It is a close reproduction of the original GTO VOE muffler. It is also a “direct fit” for any 1970-72 Pontiac Tempest/LeMans/GTO with dual exhaust. If you are lucky enough to have a GTO that was originally equipped with the VOE option (it is one of the rarest of all GTO options), with or without Ram Air, you can restore the VOE function by purchasing the mufflers only, without the control kit. And, the good news is that the DCE"Universal Model" is designed and available for almost everyone else!
See the original GM commercial for '70 GTO aired in 1970 during Super Bowl IV which subsequently lead to GM pulling the commercial and being severely criticized for "blatantly promoting street racing":
See and hear a DCE system installed and running: Waldron's Video on DCE & VOE-2 systems - Check out the rumble!

Motorheads is not only a reseller, but an authorized installer. If you would like more information, or would like to discuss installation of a system, contact

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Sunday, February 01, 2009

New Series on Old License Plates Launches

For many people, part of the pride of ownership of a Classic or Antique vehicle or Street Rod is being able to display license plates on their vehicle that are not the “standard current issue” type that you find on every other car on the road. If you own a classic '55, a '69 muscle car, or a 30's truck for instance, it'd be great to proudly display a license plate from the same year.

Motorheads Performance is fortunate to have teamed up with an expert on the subject of old license plates and license plate restoration. Rod Hemmick has been providing professional restorations of YOM license plates for over 15 years, and has even been used as a reference by the State of Texas in one of their publications on the History of Texas License Plates.

Rod’s knowledge is extensive, and the quality of his restoration work is truly outstanding. He has graciously agreed to provide his services to Motorheads’ customers and friends.

Rod will be contributing articles on period license plates, and how you can get them for your ride. Different states have different requirements and laws governing the use of plates, and we're grateful to have an expert who is willing to share his knowledge with us. We begin this series with the laws governing the issuance of Antique and Classic license plates for the State of Texas. In future articles, we will be covering these same laws as they apply to other states, as requested by our readers, as well as articles covering the history of license plates, proper colors, how to find YOM plates, etc.

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