Announcer: Go behind the wheel, under the hood, and beyond with Car Stuff from www.HowStuffWorks.com. Scott: Hi everybody, welcome to the podcast. I am Scott Benjamin, and I am the Auto Editor here at www.HowStuffWorks.com.
Ben: And I am Ben China Town Bowlin, and I just made that one up.
Scott: China Town? Really?
Ben: No, nobody wrote in with that one, but I don't think it'll work. It just felt good. Oh yeah, so what do I do? I write some videos. I hang out with you.
Scott: You do some secretive stuff.
Ben: I do some secretive stuff, yes.
Scott: Very covert.
Ben: You're covert, how about that?
Scott: I wasn't trying to hurt your feelings.
Ben: Was it I didn't do the best -
Scott: No, no, no. Hey, I got a question for ya.
Ben: All right.
Scott: This is not related to today's topic really. This is - I am blind siding you with this.
Ben: All right.
Scott: I am within about 1200 miles of 100,000 miles on my car.
Ben: Oh, okay.
Scott: So, I'm 98,800 or something like that.
Ben: All right, yeah.
Scott: Have you ever heard of anybody kind of like celebrating 100,000 miles on their car in any way? Like, what do you do when you turn 100,000 miles on your car?
Ben: Dang man, that's a great idea. I haven't heard of - Have you heard of someone doing that?
Scott: Well, I can tell you where a couple of my cars have turned 100,000 miles because I remember exactly on what road, and exactly where I was when it happened.
Ben: That's so cool.
Scott: Because I have had a few cars that have had a lot of miles on them.
Ben: Well that's good. You take good care of them.
Scott: I put a lot of miles on my cars in the past, and a little bit less now, but still a lot, but I do remember exactly where I was on the road, and almost what was going on at the time even.
Ben: What should you do? What's a good thing?
Scott: Well, I don't know. I had a friend who - This is kind of funny.
Scott: I don't recommend this one, either by the way, for an obvious reason, but he was up north when his car turned 100,000 miles, and he pulled over to the side of the road, got out like onto the hood of the car, just kind of sat, one leg up on the bumper, lit up a cigarette, smoked it, kind of just looked around, you know, take it all in, get back in the car, and continue on his way.
Ben: You know, I think that's a little muted.
Scott: It's a little dramatic, a little dramatic.
Ben: Yeah, its introspective.
Scott: It is. I don't how to - I mean that's almost like out of a movie or something, that someone would do something kind of goofy like that, but what do you think you should do for a 100,000 miles celebration, I guess? Honk the horn? Flash the lights?
Ben: I mean, that would be hard to explain if someone said why are you tailgating me, and blowing on your horn, you know, like, no I'm not mad at you.
Scott: I don't know, I just thought maybe you had something in mind. Fireworks?
Ben: Okay, first thing - I would say fireworks are legal in this state, well some fireworks. Actually you don't want to drive around with them in your trunk just on the off chance, but what if you could, I don't know, take a picture, and leave it somewhere, or put up a little sign on the sign of the road.
Scott: I don't know, maybe it's as simple as a decal for the rear bumper that says - I mean, I've seen other cars with that.
Ben: Yeah, or one of those - you know how some people rip off the wartime planes, and they have the little stamps on the side?
Scott: Oh yeah.
Ben: Yeah, but you're not really a decal guy on the cars.
Scott: No, I'm not. I like to keep mine clean. I used to be, but now I keep it clean. There's nothing on it.
Ben: Well you should definitely take a picture of the odometer.
Scott: Okay, well see, there's one suggestion right there. I guess you can do that. When it says exactly 100,000? But then that could be dangerous, what if I'm on the highway?
Ben: Life on the edge, Scott.
Scott: See, this is trouble.
Ben: Life on the edge.
Scott: Okay, let's move on.
Ben: Let's move on.
Scott: So anyway, oh boy.
Ben: So you're gonna have 100,000 miles on your car pretty soon, but how old is it?
Scott: I'm getting close. It's a 19, no I'm sorry, a 2005. I'm so used to saying 19 something. It's an 1890 something.
Ben: It's a 1670 -
Scott: It's a stuts something, stuts beer cat I think.
Ben: So it's gonna be a while before you can actually take the trusty civic to become a, I guess, member of the license plate group we're about to talk about.
Scott: Oh yeah, that's right. You know what, you're right, and that's getting right to the heart of what I have to say about this topic. Would I feel good about putting an antique plate on my Honda Civic when it is eligible?
Ben: Here we go.
Scott: Would I feel good about it?
Ben: Would you?
Scott: Well, let's find that out.
Ben: Yeah, let's see. Let's build toward this.
Scott: Would I do it? Okay so, here's the idea - and here's the way this came about because we've talked about historic, or antique plates on vehicles for a while now. We mentioned it a few weeks, and kind of said maybe we should do it, maybe we shouldn't. What inspired me to finally make the leap on this one is that I saw a Volkswagen Rabbit convertible from the early '80s with an antique license plate on it, and it blew my mind.
Ben: Early '80s?
Scott: Early '80s, it was a convertible, the Cabrio, is that what they called them?
Scott: Something like that, but it was an early '80s Volkswagen Rabbit convertible, and it had historic plates, and this thing, I mean, this specific vehicle was a pile of junk. It was terrible looking.
Ben: It just wasn't maintained?
Scott: No, and not only that, it's an early '80s Volkswagen Rabbit. What's it doing with antique license plates? I mean, maybe I'm way off, Ben, but to me, that's not a collector car, and that's not an antique car, but now someone who collects those, and preserves them, could say -
Ben: Yeah, oh my God, they're writing the E-mail right now, Scott.
Scott: Exactly. Well that's okay, I understand, and there's gonna be a lot of this, and I want to - Right now, let's just head this off.
Ben: Let's do it.
Scott: I want to tell everybody I guess, that this whole thing is not intended to hurt anybody's feelings. If you happen to drive one of the vehicles we are talking about, it's not a shot at your vehicle, it's not meant to hurt you in any way, it's just meant to - and I'm kind of smiling when I'm saying this because it's not intentionally mean. All we're saying is that really a classic, or is that really an antique at this point because some of the ones that I'm gonna mention here are - we'll do this later. I've got a list of cars that are now eligible for antique and class plates.
Ben: Oh man, you're making me feel old.
Scott: Some of them are not really antiques, in my mind, or they're not collectible, in anyway. Then again the re is always somebody that can argue the other side of that.
Ben: Yeah, sure because there's so much - The appreciation is so subjective too. What we're talking about when we talk about historic license plates - I've got a quick and dirty definition here -
Scott: Oh great, yeah.
Ben: Okay, so to qualify for these historic license plates, or some states call them antique license plates, the vehicle in question has to be at least 25 years old, or older, right, and in some states it has to be owned solely a collector's item, used for exhibition or educational purposes, which means - that specific definition actually comes from the State of Missouri.
Scott: Okay. It's different in all states.
Ben: Right, you're stumbling on it.
Ben: 25 years or older though is pretty much the common.
Scott: Yeah, that's common. I mean it goes down to 20 and it goes up to 30, so 25 you're right, it is right in the ballpark, and there are even some odd ones, like Michigan is 26 years.
Scott: So it has to be just beyond that threshold of 25.
Ben: So everybody take care of your 24-year-old cars.
Scott: That's right, yeah, and you can be eligible, but you might say well, why the heck would I want to get an antique plate anyway?
Ben: Good question.Scott: Well okay, the reason is because you get a cut on the price of your vehicle registration, and sometimes, in some cases, there is no fee, or a very, very reduced fee, and often times it is good for longer than one year, so you can see the benefit of this already, and -
Ben: Like 3 years or something?
Scott: And not only that, you get out of vehicle inspections, like if you have a safety inspection, emissions inspection, you are no longer eligible for those inspections, or no longer required to have those inspections.
Ben: Yeah they don't apply to you.
Scott: Which can be costly when you get to a vehicle that is you know, 25 years old, it's to your benefit I guess to say well, I just don't want to do it this year. I'll get this plate, and it's covered.
Ben: Because a lot of the older vehicles just aren't designed to those emissions standards.
Scott: No, no, exactly, to what we're expecting now, and a lot of them require - you know, if you're having an emissions test, like you mentioned, and it doesn't pass, you have to go somewhere, try to make it pass, and you have to spend X number of dollars until it does pass, or you reached your limit of what you can spend on the vehicle in order to try to get it to pass.
Ben: And there is one other thing that we should probably mention that has kind of slipped through with this. In some states, if you have an antique or a historic license plate, they let you transfer that to another older vehicle if you have another one as well.
Scott: Okay, I didn't know that.
Ben: So if it's like, you know, you have - let's say you have two 1950 Chevys, or something, you know, just cherry rides, classics, and you take care of them, and you have one license plate. Apparently in some places you can transfer it to another one.
Scott: Oh, that's interesting, I didn't know that was possible, that's cool.
Ben: I don't know, I think there's -
Scott: So it's registered to the owner.
Ben: Yeah, and for - Someone will probably check me on this if I am wrong, but I don't have my notes on that in front of me, but I'm pretty sure in some states you can do that.
Scott: Now in others, and again, this is different in every state it seems like. They've all got their own rules. In other states, it may be non-transferrable, but you may only have to pay once. Here's the type of numbers we're talking about. Let me dig through my notes here for a second, but the difference we're talking about could be $50 a year, or could be $100 a year difference. You know, a lot of times you'll pay less for a historic plate that's good for multiple years than you would for a standard plate that is good for one year only.
Ben: One year.
Scott: Exactly, yeah, so there's definitely a benefit to having these plates, if your vehicle qualifies for it. Every state has their version of what qualifies as a classic or historic vehicle.
Ben: I feel some finger quotes coming on.
Scott: Yeah, kind of, now there's a ton - you can imagine, there's a lot of people that argue both ways for this one.
Scott: There's some purists that say it has to be an unmodified antique original vehicle from this era, and that's a classic antique vehicle, and only this can be allowed. It has to go up for review if it is or not. Others say, no as long as it is a model year, that meets the requirement, then it's good. Others say it can be slightly modified, and that's fine, as well, but you'll see there are differences in this that there is classic and antique, and then there's also street rods in some cases, that - and then again, even in that case, someone may apply for an antique license plate, which is good for longer, and is cheaper for multiple years, if not the rest of the life of the vehicle, as opposed to going for a street rod license, which is what their car really qualifies for because it's heavily modified, that costs them not only an initial hit of let's say $50, but then an additional $35 a year, so it just comes down to what is your vehicle, what are you comfortable paying I guess, you know, and are you gonna be truthful about what modifications you've done to your vehicle, and what it truly is.
Ben: Like what's a deal breaker modification, just for easy example?
Scott: An easy example would just be a new engine.
Ben: Oh yeah, okay.
Scott: Let's say you have a Ford Model T with a 454 Chevy engine that clearly wasn't the engine that came in the vehicle to begin with, but you know, it's a street rod, and that's a heavily modified vehicle. That's simple. There are a lot of other modified vehicles we can talk about, but that's just to get the point out that it's not stock original antique, and like I said there's just a lot of argument back and forth about this whole thing.
Ben: And it goes into a gray area, too, when you talk about modifications because for some vehicles, there are no manufacturers of certain parts, so you have to get new parts, fabricated parts.
Scott: See that's another thing. You can have reproduction parts, but it's - well, that's a tough one, Ben.Ben:: Don't let me corner you, man.
Scott: No, no, it comes down to kind of like what the 'club' will allow because if you're in a motor club, they may say well you know, you're not really driving an original now because you have a fiberglass body on your car.
Ben: We can't hang out anymore.
Scott: I can understand that one, but let's say that the company that makes the door handles is no longer around, and you want to buy the correct door handles for your vehicle, but they're not available, so you can buy these reproductions to look the same, does that really matter? Does that make it not really an antique? I don't think so. I mean, I think it's still an antique vehicle, and you've done your best to preserve the way it looks. Handles, really, come on, it's not like you're replacing the body or engine, suspension, or interior.
Ben: But then it goes back to that old ongoing argument about the letter versus the spirit of the law.
Scott: True, true, yeah, you're right.
Ben: So what - do you have any like [inaudible] - I want to hear the dirt man. I want you to go for the blood.
Scott: Okay, well I don't know if I am really going for the blood, but I got - there's nothing that really - it doesn't bother me that much really, but it does when we get to the examples that we'll talk about later, but if you have a car that is from the '50s, '40s, '30s, even the '60s, I can understand wanting to get a classic or antique plate. It depends on kind of what it is to me, but then again, here's where the tricky part comes in. How do we define what is an antique or collectible vehicle, and that's gonna be different for everybody. So let's say you have a 1966 Volkswagen Beetle. I would be fine putting a classic or antique license plate on that vehicle, right? Some people might not. They might say that is not really anything that is unique enough because they made 15 million of those things, or they made you know -
Ben: I see.
Scott: I just don't know if somebody would be opposed to that in any way. I'm just using that as an example.
Ben: I think that is a good example because the '60s is a perfect timeframe for us to talk about this. Let us not forget that the definition of a classic is always made by future generations.
Scott: Well, yeah that's true, it is, but you're still talking about a clearly defined - there's like a year limit to this.
Ben: Yeah, there is a year limit.
Scott: Remember, we talked about the 20, 25, 30 year thing - okay, well what if you find a car that is now - boy I'm still getting ahead because I want to get into this list, but I don't want to yet.
Scott: There are a lot of vehicles that now fall within that historic era, I guess, that you know, past a certain point that would qualify it as historic or antique vehicles that your or I might say, I don't really think that one should get it.
Ben: Yeah, I -
Scott: That's the gray area.
Ben: You know what, I see where we're going with this. I'm gonna ride this one out with you man because I agree.
Scott: So okay, let's just go through a couple of quick examples here of like in Maryland, they have some limits set here on what's allowed, and what's not allowed. I think I also have some for Indiana and Michigan. We can just quickly go through them.
Ben: Yeah, yeah.
Scott: To qualify for historic plate, your vehicle must not have been substantially altered, remodeled, or remanufactured from its original construction, and must be 20 model years or older. So Maryland is 20 model years. But it does say it must not be substantially altered, remodeled or remanufactured. A historic vehicle of 60 years or older can obtain a one-time permit that is non-transferrable. So, they pay for it once, they're done, that's it, but it has to be above 60 years old, so there's that whole 40 years in between there where you still have to pay for it every year.
Ben: Yeah, okay.
Scott: The last thing is, and this is one that you'll see in a lot of states. I had a classic vehicle one time that - or classic plates on a vehicle one time, and this was one that caused me a little bit of trouble, but I think most people work around this one a little bit.
Ben: Was this on your British car?
Scott: Yeah, my MG. I had a '66 MG, and I qualified for plates in Michigan when I was there, and it was good for 10 years, and it was only $30 I think to register the car.
Scott: So that's for 10 years, $30, at $3 a year, and the plate is stamped with the year.
Scott: I think, you know what, I think it would have expired this year. I think it was up in 2010. It didn't make it that - I got rid of the vehicle, but the plate stayed with me, of course. It doesn't transfer on, but the one thing that keeps a lot of people back from this - Now, that would have been $100 a year to put a regular plate on that, you can see the benefit there. The problem is that these vehicles that are classified as historic are supposed to be used only for exhibitions, club activities, parades, tours, and occasional transportation to and from events, like if you're gonna go to a club meeting that's in a park, they allow that. If you have to take it for service, and you can drive it there, and drive it back, that's allowed.
Ben: But not to the grocery store.
Scott: These are not daily drivers. So if you want to get right down to the letter of the law, when you see a car with an antique or historic plate, it should not be going to and from work every day. It should be parades, club events, fun activities like that, and you know, when we get to our list of some vehicles that qualify, and some that I've seen, that's when this becomes questionable because I can't see a lot of the cars I'm talking about in parades. I just can't see it. There's another one in Maryland that is a street rod license, plate I guess.
Ben: Okay, so that's a different plate.
Scott: It's a different plate, and this one must be 25 years or older, so it's a little bit older, but they have to be substantially altered from the manufactured original design.
Ben: They're required to be altered.
Scott: They are required to be substantially altered.
Ben: Okay, that makes perfect sense.
Scott: They also have to, again, the same thing, they have to be used for club activities, parades, and they have to certify that the vehicle is not used for general daily transportation or for the transportation of passengers or property on highways.
Ben: How do they certify that, do they sign an affidavit or something?
Scott: They must have to sign something when they go in and say I will not use this for daily transportation, nor will I use it to shuttle people from here to there, nor will I use it for work because they don't want you carrying wood with your antique truck that you're not paying anything for registration on the highways that the tax dollars are supporting. So that's the reason behind that.
Ben: I have to be honest with you, man. I'm kind of chomping at the bit about this list now too because originally I was sort of - as they say in Tennessee where I'm from - I was sort of a gannet when you -
Scott: Can I make one more, quick note here, and then we're done? I promise this is it, and then we'll go onto that list because -
Ben: Well you just made a really good point though about the parade. Could you see your car in a parade? For me, I think that may become my new - you turned me on to the side. Oh man.
Scott: See that's the thing, like I can understand, you see the parade of vehicles - it often has convertibles, and a lot of them are new, that's fine, but they don't have antique plates on them. It's just a standard plate on them, and usually it might be a car dealer that offers up five of the same kind of convertibles to carry the prom queen down the middle of Main Street, or the football team, or whatever.
Ben: I'm getting this on a tangent. I'm just saying, your rhetorical skills are outwitting me.
Scott: All right, the last thing that I want to mention here, and then we'll get to our list, I promise - But in Indiana, as well as other states - This is just the one I have an example for. Indiana will allow you to display a vintage license plate which is from the year the car was manufactured, so if you can go to a swap meet, a pawn shop, or whatever, and find a license plate from the year that your vehicle was made - let's say you have a '57 Chevy, and you go find a 1957 Indiana license plate, and you want to put that plate on your car, even though it wasn't originally issued to your vehicle, you're allowed to do that in Indiana, but you do have to apply for a standard historic tag as well, which you pay for, and then you're allowed to - you have to make sure you meet all qualifications we talked about before.
Ben: The age -
Scott: Yeah, the typical stuff -
Ben: The driving restrictions -
Scott: Exactly, but this is as of January 2008, if you want to display the vintage plate instead of the new plate, which you do legally now have, you've got paperwork, and you have to keep that plate in the vehicle with you at all times, so you have to keep it in the glove box, or under the seat or whatever, you can put the vintage plate on the car, but it will cost you an additional $48 for the privilege to do that.
Ben: That's so weird, why would they make that a law?
Scott: I don't know, that's a little strange, but I guess it's just to deter people from putting a vintage plate on their car, and not paying amounts due, and not keeping the historic plate with them, etcetera. I don't know, maybe that's a flawed logic there.
Ben: I think it's neat though. It seems well intentioned. People want to have that.
Scott: So it just has to be the year of manufacture of your vehicle, of course for the state it is in, which in this case it is Indiana, and has to be in good condition. There's a short list here that says it has to be metal. It can't be any other material. It can't be fiberglass or some reproduction. It has to be the original metal plate. It can't be altered in any way. You can't change it to say anything that you want it to, no fading, or minimal fading.
Ben: That makes sense, so it's still visible.
Scott: Exactly. It can have a little bit of minor rust, but not much. It can't be overly rusty. That's a judgement call I guess. The plate can't be bent, it has to be straight so it can be mounted correctly, and your plate has to match the plate that you registered with the state. So you can't just swap out plates, and say that you have the right to do it anyway, and find a better plate later and put it on. You have to keep the plate with the vehicle that you registered, etcetera. They have to stay together. So I thought that was interesting that they allow you to do that. I know that other states are following suit with that. They're allowing people to display vintage plates as long as they keep the other plate in the vehicle.
Ben: That's kind of recent, only a couple of yea rs back.
Ben: I wonder what prompted them to do that, you know.
Scott: I don't know, but I think it is a good idea. I like seeing a 1927 Ford with a 1927 license plate. I think that's kind of cool.
Ben: Yeah, that's cool. It's probably - that's probably one of the main reasons they did that.
Scott: I know I've seen that many, many times, too. You know, you'll pull up to a vehicle in traffic, maybe on a Saturday or Sunday, and they're out stretching the car a little bit, which is allowed, and you know, you think what the heck is that, and then you see the plate says 1931, and you're like, oh that's a '31 Chevrolet.
Ben: I feel like I've seen that a couple of times. It just makes me think that there must be someone who was so into the authenticity of their car, that they wrote their congressman.
Ben: That's probably what happened.
Scott: That's likely what happened, otherwise everybody would have the historic plate issued by the state.
Ben: Give me these parade cars.
Scott: All right here's the scoop on this. Remember, these all qualify now, but for every one of them, I have to say I don't think so. I really do because when you hear the list, understand, to me these are not classics or antiques, but they do meet the definition in our state, or in several states, really for classic plate. They qualify for this, and I've seen a couple of these on the road.
Ben: Welcome to I don't think so with Scott Benjamin.
Scott: That's right. How about a 1984 Chevy Chevette?
Ben: What kind of parade would that be in?
Scott: You know what, it qualifies. Do you see what I mean? Like there's this whole era of vehicles, these early '80s vehicles that now qualify, that I just don't think have the look of a classic vehicle. Now, that's purely up to someone's opinion, their viewpoint, but I just don't see it. I don't see a classic look in the Ford Pinto.
Ben: Is that another one?
Scott: Well sure, the Ford Pinto is one because that was the late '60s and early '70s, so that one way qualifies for it, but how many of those do you see around?
Ben: In parades? Parades are the sticking point for me though.
Scott: That's just one you can pick on though, I guess.
Ben: But cars in the '80s Scott, I mean, a lot of people are still using vehicles from the '80s as their daily driver.
Scott: That's the point because you and I know, and I saw a blogger who wrote about this too, but he said - I'm scuffling here, but it was this kind - this is exactly how I feel too. It says my biggest complaint about antique vehicle license plates is th at it is kind of a myth. He doesn't say it's a myth, but I think it's like, a lot of people are just trying to sidestep the law in this case, and I really do believe that, but he says if your car is over a certain age, 25 years in Virginia, is where he's from, and he says a lot of people do it to try and avoid the annual safety inspection that's due there, and I don't know if it costs, or they just won't pass it, or whatever, but he says, who do you really think gets these antique plates. He said it's the people that are driving what he calls death traps down the road, alongside you and I on the road, that are not getting the safety inspection that you and I have to get in order to maintain safety on the road.
Ben: Them is fighting words, Scott.
Scott: I know, I know, and he says - I'm reading remember, I'm reading his blog -
Ben: Yeah, we're reading someone else's blog.
Scott: He says, the pieces of crap won't pass inspection so Virginia gives them antique plates. He goes on to say that the law states that cars with antique plates don't have to have the inspection, etcetera, but when some clown is driving in a 1978 Toyota Corolla with no floorboards, and antique plates, he said you know what that's all about right, and that's - you know what, I feel sort of the same way. I really do.
Ben: He's alleging conspiracy though on the part of the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Scott: And I don't mean to hurt anybody's feelings, I really don't, but he's kind of got my theory down here, or vice versa.
Ben: He's not as near as nice as you are though.
Scott: No, but I'm trying to be nice about it, but look at my list here, a 1985, all of the K cars that Chrysler made. You remember those K cars?
Scott: Those all now qualify for classic vehicle status or antique plates.
Ben: Oh man, I feel so old, Scott.
Scott: Remember like the Reliant K, and the Dodge 600, and the old Chrysler LeBaron, the one that was real boxy?
Scott: Those all qualify for historic plates. I've only got a couple more here.
Ben: Now we qualify for historic plates.
Scott: Okay, Toyota Corollas, Honda Accords and to show that I'm not being biased here, the 1985 Honda CRX. I love the CRX, but I don't think it deserves antique or classic status, not yet. Maybe in 50 years it will, I don't know. I just don't see it. I don't see it as like the Jaguars from the 1930s or the Morgans, I don't know, anything, Bentleys, Baguettes, whatever.
Ben: I'm gonna be kind of a jerk, and say this. You got me on your team on this one. I think maybe 20 to 30 years is still too low. When I think of classic cars, I'm thinking more like 30 to 40 years old with 30 being the bottom level. For me, some of the 70s muscle cars, to me, are really considered classics in my head.
Scott: Sure, worthy.
Ben: What's that?
Scott: They're worthy.
Ben: They're worthy, yeah, they've been around, and then there's that age restriction so maybe the age cap should just be raised.
Scott: Maybe. Maybe. I know there - Did we mention one that was 30 years? I don't remember what state it was, but -
Ben: That was Maryland.
Scott: I got two more examples here. These maybe will be the ones that put the cap on it for you.
Ben: Oh, let's get this.
Scott: How about -
Ben: Let's get these angry E-mails going.
Scott: The early Chrysler minivans. Chrysler minivans. There's Chrysler minivans out there - you know, the very first minivans -
Ben: No, not cool.
Scott: The very first minivans because Chrysler -
Ben: Yeah, I know what you mean.
Scott: Well, Chrysler invented the minivan. Chrysler minivans are now eligible for antique and classic plates, and you're shaking your head.
Ben: I'm shaking my head because I don't want to accept it.
Scott: Do you see my point?
Ben: I see your point.
Scott: That's a good example, right?
Ben: I was skeptical at first.
Scott: How about this one? This is my last one -
Ben: All right.
Scott: Steel yourself. You ready?
Ben: Hang on. Yes.
Scott: Okay, the 1985 Yugo is now eligible for classic or antique license plates.
Ben: That's ridiculous. That's just ridiculous.
Scott: So it's not an impossibility that you might see a 1985 Yugo on the street with classic or antique historic license plates.
Ben: I, okay, I don't want to offend people, of course, I'm not saying it's ridiculous for that car to ever be considered a classic, but I do think it's ridiculous for it to be considered a classic right now. 1985?
Ben: 1985. The vast majority of our listeners were born probably -
Scott: 1985 was 25 years ago, so in Michigan, they would have to wait one more year. In Maryland -
Ben: Maryland, 5 more years.
Scott: No Maryland, it's qualified for the last 5 years.
Ben: Oh, you're right.
Scott: It qualified in 2005. So, you see the point that I'm making here, is that maybe some deserve it, maybe some don't, but there's a gray area, and you and I can't define it. Honestly, our listeners can't define it. I don't know if anybody really can define it. It's almost like something has to go up to a review board, where they say yes or no, and has to be made up of a bunch of different experts that say these are the qualifications, and it's much more strict.
Ben: Well how about this? You know, let's - it might seem like we're taking down a little bit, so let's bring it up because it sounds like what we're basically talking about to everybody who is midway through writing me those angry E-mails for calling the Yugo ridiculous -
Scott: And please don't - I mean because we know people collect them. We know people restore them. We know people - There are probably some in a museum somewhere because -
Ben: People take really good care of them, too.
Scott: They're part of history, they really are, however, they are not a classic or antique automobile in my eyes.
Ben: At least not yet.
Scott: In my eyes.
Ben: Okay, I would say at least not yet.
Scott: Okay, very good.
Ben: But I think in a few more years, it is quite possible. It's just too recent, 1985 is too recent to me. Am I just being old? Am I an old person saying that?
Scott: No, I don't think so.
Ben: Okay, so thank you Scott. Thanks for backing me up.
Scott: Coming from another, much older person.
Ben: So what we are really talking about, if you want to take it to a little more open-minded level, is the same basic question that humanity has wrestled with forever, since the days of yore, which is how do we objectively determine these sort of subjective things? What is art? What is the difference between pros and poetry, you know, I'm searching, I'm reaching for this, but it is true, that when we talk about classic cars we are talking about certain elements of contextual history. We're talking about beauty with a capital B, we're talking about art, so what point does it move from being a 1985 Yugo to being a 1985 classic car, and I think it's gonna have to be another couple years, man, honestly.
Scott: Another couple of decades, I think.
Ben: Yeah, I'm being optimistic.
Scott: Very good. It's just a sticky situation, and I'm sure that people at the license bureau have to deal with this all the time.
Ben: Oh yeah.
Scott: Whether or not someone is really telling them the truth about something, but yeah, no I'm not gonna drive it to work, but it's a 1980 Corolla, and I don't have another car.
Ben: Let me let you know, that just to be - because of course, you know, I'm completely above the board with you, you're one of my trusted few in the circle, right? Scott, I completely agree with everything you are saying, and I am okay with how mad you will be with me, how angry you'll be, when I totally do what you're talking about. I will at least have another car or something.
Scott: Okay, yeah, I won't be mad with you, but -
Ben: Should I just not tell you?
Scott: No, I think I know what you're gonna say. Go ahead and do it.
Ben: I'm totally gonna get one of those license plates.
Scott: So you're gonna hang onto the Monte Carlo -
Ben: Oh, yeah, if I can hang onto the Monte Carlo that long -
Scott: For 25 years, and on that 25th year you're gonna register it as a historic car?
Ben: And I'm still gonna drive it.
Scott: Okay, got it.
Ben: I might.
Scott: Now see, I wouldn't feel right doing that in my Civic when it gets to that point. I mean it would have a million miles on it apparently, but you know, I just think I wouldn't be able to do it. I know that I would be pushing it every time I took it out because I felt comfortable in my classic car, I would rarely drive it, and I really did pretty much stick to the rules, but on the weekends, I would take it out, and kind of stretch it a little bit, but I would drive it for a long time on the weekends, just around town. I was always a little bit nervous that someone was going to question me about what I was doing, so I always thought well, I could say I'm going to a shop in the area. No, it's not very nice to do that, but I always had a story lined up, you know that I could -
Ben: You know, you shouldn't have to have an alibi for weekend drives.
Scott: The thing is, you know, if you're just stretching it, and keeping it running, I don't think there is anything wrong with that. Now, if you're gonna use it every day to go back and forth to work, and the police officer notices you in this car going back and forth every day of the week, then they may pull you over and question you, and then you've got some splaining to do.
Ben: Some splaining to do. I love that.
Scott: Yeah, you've got some splaining to do because you're gonna have to either pay a fine, and they may take that plate away from you, and then fine you in addition to making you get legitimate registration for your vehicle to use for daily use.
Ben: And then you will have to get an emissions test.
Scott: Exactly. Yeah, all that, everything that comes along with that. There are a lot of legal issues that happen too, so just keep it on the up and up, and you're okay.
Ben: I had some fun with this one. Maybe later we can do a podcast about all of the different types of license plates because there are so many.
Ben: I want those Diplomat license plates. You know, they get to park anywhere, like doctors.
Scott: Is that true?
Ben: I'm kind of making that up, I'm not sure.
Ben: But they do look really cool.
Scott: Yeah, they do, you're right.
Ben: Do you like Monty Python?
Scott: I do.
Ben: And now, for something completely different -
Scott: Listener Mail.
Ben: Okay, yes, that's right. Time again for Listener Mail. Scott, let me introduce you to Jed from the internet. He writes in to say - oh, actually, it's Jed from New York, from Brooklyn. Jed writes in to say, "Hi Ben and Scott, I love your podcasts. I have listened to all of them. Ironically, I live in Brooklyn, New York, and don't even have a car, so I listen to them on the train on my way to Manhattan for work. Your recent podcast on fire trucks got me going. How do sirens work? I'm sure they're just big loud speakers, living in New York City, you can imagine I hear a lot of them." You know, I was just there, that's true Scott. "and they make different sounds. There's the long wailing siren on fire engines, the quick up, down, up down, that sounds like European police cars, the loud chirp that ambulances make at intersections, and this weird new one on police cars is just a short, low-pitched burst, and there are many more. Do these different sirens have different meanings or uses? Sometimes they'll switch between different ones during a pursuit, why?".
Ben: That's a great question.
Scott: Yeah, that is a great question. I don't know if I have the complete answer for this one, but I do know that I can almost pick out the difference between a fire engine, a police car, and an ambulance when they're far away still. You can definitely tell the difference between all three of those. As far as some of the differences between each version of that, like different ambulances from different manufacturers maybe, different siren manufacturers. I don't know if that is the case or not, it must be because he's saying there's a variety of them. I didn't know if they had a different sound for pursuit.
Ben: On police cars.
Scott: Yeah, thankfully I haven't ever had that happen to me. Ben I think there is definitely a lower pitched one that is more of a warning of emergency assistance kind of thing than the actual 'everybody on the street watch out, we're in pursuit'. I think maybe we can do this in a future podcast.
Scott: I think so, too. I mean just the devices that make those sounds because are they electronic? Some of them are mechanical, or at least they were. I don't know if they still are or not. So there's actually like a whistle with one of the little cork balls in it that spins around, and makes that whirring sound. I know that police cars now have like the horn makes a different sound than - it kind of interrupts the siren, and that's when they burst that sound when they enter an intersection, as they approach because it's much louder, and just real abrupt. This is a good topic. We should definitely dig into it.
Ben: Yeah, we're gonna pick this one up. This became, I guess almost a preview for the listeners with us talking about this. Let me tell you real quick the reason I thought Jed's E-mail was so funny. He ends it with his name, and he says " P.S. if it helps, I would tell you that I'm 10 years old and in the fifth grade, but that would be a lie".
Scott: Now why would he say that?
Ben: Jed, thank you for being honest, and hilarious.
Scott: I guess because we've answered a lot of Listener Mail from the youngsters, is that right?
Ben: Well we get a lot of people writing in, but some of our - I'm not gonna name names - but some of our other podcasts do get a little bit of flack sometimes for maybe answering more E-mail from younger listeners.
Scott: Oh, no kidding? I didn't know that. You know we have listeners that go up into their 80s, did you know that? Do you remember that? We got an E-mail from someone who claimed to be an octogenarian. I don't know how old he is at this point, but we have people that - you know, the full range, from 8 years old up into apparently the 80s. So, I don't know, I think it's a wide appeal, and we try to get to everybody's listener mail. We don't just single out the youth.
Ben: Yeah, we're pretty much into High Speed Stuff and -
Scott: So keep it fair, keep it fair.
Ben: Anyone who is into High Speed Stuff is, as far as we're concerned, down with us, right?
Scott: Yeah, that's right.
Ben: Even my mom says she listens, but I don't know if I believe her.
Ben: I think she's just being nice. I'm an only child.
Scott: I know my mom doesn't listen.
Ben: It's okay, man.
Scott: I don't think my dad does, either, nor do any of my friends.
Ben: I'm your friend. I listen.
Scott: That's good. I don't really spread the word because you know, got to hear my own voice.
Ben: Spreading the word, that's right. That's how we have to end it.
Ben: We are on Facebook. We are on Twitter. We've got a marvelous educamental - that didn't work - entertainment, but mental - blog on the website. And, let's see, I think -
Scott: Well, there's just the auto station, the auto channel on our site, which is you can find it on the home page easy enough, for the auto channel, and it's real simple to navigate around and find whatever you want because we have a pretty good library of all things automotive at this point.
Ben: And you guys, Scott works really hard on this sometimes after I just beaten my newest record in Mind Sweeper, I'll swing by on the way to get a Coke or something, and he is just tapping away at this. So you can find so much information about all things automotive-related on our website, and if there's something that we have failed to address, or forgot, please do us a favor, and send us an E-mail to -
Announcer: For m ore on this, and thousands of other topics, visit www.HowStuffWorks.com. Let us know what you think. Send an E-mail to Podcast@HowStuffWorks.com.