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Old License Plate Frames Are Unusually Expensive

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author photo by Doug DeMuro September 2018

Here's something I've recently noticed: old license plate frames are incredibly expensive. I'm serious. You know those old metal frames that car dealerships used to stick around license plates? Well, go on eBay -- you'll be shocked at how much they cost to buy now. And if you have any laying around, you might be able to make some money selling them.

With that said, there are some caveats. First off, no, you can't just offer up your plastic license plate frame from John Smith Honda or Bill Johnson Toyota, or whatever, that you got while buying your CR-V or RAV4 three years ago. The plate frames that seem to bring the most money are from the 1950s and 1960s -- and they're all metal. And, usually, they seem to correspond to some exciting car dealership in some desirable place, like an Oldsmobile dealer in Los Angeles, or a Ford dealer in New York.

The reason old plate frames are so valuable, I suspect, has to do with car collectors: say you've just finished perfectly restoring your 1963 Corvette to make it look exactly as it did the day it left the dealership in 1963. What better item to cap off your restoration than a plate frame from a dealer, tacked onto the plate just as it would've been back then? It's a cool accessory, and I totally understand why old dealer plate frames are popular.

And, with that in mind, you might want to go check your garage -- if you've got some plate frames lying around that would look nice on 1950s or 1960s cars, they may be worth a pretty penny. And if you find some plate frames from the 1970s or 1980s, you may want to hold on to them: They could be worth some money in a few years, as 1970s and 1980s cars increase in collector value and desirability.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
Old License Plate Frames Are Unusually Expensive - Autotrader