The stories behind the customized vanity license plates
LEXTASY. CMPNS8N. SEEHOX. Often funny, sometimes witty and occasionally naughty – they’re called vanity plates for a reason.
• Searchable database of vanity plates
They can display one’s philosophy, team affiliation, business, hobby, generosity or kiss off to the world – all in seven letters.
There are 86,700 of them in the state, with more than 10,500 in Pierce County.
Ken Kotch of Lacey got REVOLT for his Ford Escape, a hybrid. He “re-volts” the battery as he drives and wants his car’s license plate to show he’s revolting against high gas prices.
“I tell everyone, ‘It works on a lot of levels,’” he said in an e-mail responding to The News Tribune’s request for readers’ license plate stories.
WLRSLVR stands for “walrus lover.” John Donovan of Tacoma got it because he used to swim with walruses ET and Rosie when he was the director of the Zoo Run in the early 1980s at Point Defiance.
Now he has a collection of more than 500 walrus items – stuffed, wood, glass, porcelain, wax, metal.
“I developed a passion for walruses,” he said in a recent interview. “They’re absolutely wonderful animals. So large but so gentle, with a wonderful spirit about them.”
Many people have a hard time decoding his plate, Donovan said. They think it has the word “sliver” in it. On one drive, he could see a family struggling to make it out in his mirror. So he pulled along side them and held up the correct answer.
Members of the Tahoma Audubon Society have staked out some of their own: SCRBJAY, WETLAND and 22WPKRS – and yes, Rolan Nelson does have 22 woodpeckers, Diane Yorgason-Quinn explained in a recent society newsletter article on personalized plates.
Businesses spend a few extra bucks to get them, too.
Sprague Pest Solutions of Tacoma outfitted its whole fleet with pest control references. The technical director is BUGWIZ, the bespectacled regional manager is BUGEYED and the owners sport BUGBOSS and GOTMICE.
Steve Webber of Tacoma is a professional organizer and one of the few males in a female-dominated industry, he says. His vanity plate, ORG-GUY, helps to set him apart. (See, it’s not what you dirty-minded folks thought.)
Others use the plates to mark important events in their lives.
There’s a story behind Russ Wilcoxson’s plate: 24KMACH. An abbreviation of Mach 1, the speed of sound, it sits just below the 24-karat gold running horse on his screaming yellow Ford Mustang.
“I bought the car new on my birthday, Feb. 24, 2004,” he said. “I was diagnosed with prostate cancer and really needed something to lift my spirits. I did and I’m a survivor.”
Vanity plates run the gamut from the sacred to the nearly profane.
Judy Snow of Tacoma uses her plate as a reminder. CTR comes from the name of a Sunday school class at her church. It stands for “Choose the Right.”
“It helps to keep me on the straight and narrow, as it reflects the intent to do what is right, like, not to cut people off, not to succumb to road rage and to generally behave on the road,” she said. “It’s a reminder to me that I have a choice to do that what is right and I chose to do it. We all need reminders, especially me.”
One Tacoma man, who did not want his name published, says he’ll get rid of his OJDIDIT plate when the former NFL star “finds the real killer” of his wife and her boyfriend.
“I’ve had many people give thumbs up and point to the plate,” he said.
But occasionally complaints about a plate will lead to a push to get it revoked.
In 2005, a Spanaway woman complained about Jane Milhans’ plate “JOHN3:16,” saying she was offended by the plate’s biblical message, and prompting a state review. Officials let Milhans keep it.
Dan Kaiser of University Place didn’t fare as well. State officials revoked his plate joking about President Bush. It read “F DUBYA.”
Ian Demsky: 235-597-8872
QUICK FACTS ON VANITY PLATES
• Plates can contain up to seven characters, consisting of letters, numbers, hyphens or spaces. Motorcycle plates can have up to six characters.
• Plates cannot contain other symbols, such as $, #, %, *.
• Plates cannot “suggest vulgar, racial, ethnic, or indecent messages.”
• For cars, the cost is $49.75 plus standard fees. Motorcycles are $2 less.
• Personalized plates cost an extra $32 per year to renew.
• You can keep your message as long as you want.
• To apply for a plate or for more information, go to dol.wa.gov
and click on Vehicle & Boat Registration and then on Special Plates.
SOME LOCAL FAVORITES
We looked through the database of personalized plates issued to Pierce County residents. Here are some of the ones we found interesting or funny, broken down by category.
B4KIDS, blue 1977 Porsche 911, Bonney Lake
BLIING, 2007 BMW 328, Fircrest
MODESTY, red 1981 Jaguar XJ6, Gig Harbor
CHILLAX, 2003 Porsche Boxter, Gig Harbor
MZTHANG, 2001 Lexus IS-series, Lakewood
GOTCADI, white 2000 Cadillac Escalade, Puyallup
PMPN, red 2004 Cadillac Deville, Tacoma
XS, green 1990 Jaguar XJ6, Tacoma
SLUMMIN, black 2002 Cadillac Escalade, University Place
IBUGU, gray 2004 Volkswagen Beetle, Fox Island
9TEEN31, blue 1931 Ford panel truck, Lakewood
CELICA, 2000 Toyota Celica, Tacoma
LCMINO, 1980 Chevrolet El Camino, Tacoma
THECAR, 2004 Mazda 6S, Tacoma
Fun and funny
3KDZL8R, red 2003 Ford Mustang, Bonney Lake
MINNYME, 2006, Mini Cooper, Bonney Lake
RUJELUS, white 1988 Jeep Wrangler, Buckley
TNKUDAD, white 1979 Cadillac Fleetwood, Edgewood
WACKO, blue 2003 Dodge Dakota pickup, Fife
MCLOVIN, 2002 Ford Mustang, Gig Harbor
OPNN8ED, yellow 1979 Mercedes-Benz 450, Gig Harbor
JOMAMA, green 2002 Toyota pickup, Lakewood
RAMBRO, 2003 Dodge Ram pickup, Lakewood
INRUTT, 2005 Ford F-series pickup, Sumner
IXLR8CU, 1988 Chevrolet Corvette, Tacoma
CUONTOP, beige 1996 Nissan Pathfinder, Tacoma
EYERISH, dark green 1992 Chevrolet Blazer, Tacoma
UNEEEK, gray 2003 Chevrolet Avalanche pickup, Sumner
MIDLFE, 2007 Ford Mustang, Tacoma
NOWWSUP, silver 2002 Ford Focus, Tacoma
YBSLOW, green 1993 Honda Accord, Tacoma
BLINDMN, white 2005 Chevrolet cargo van, Tacoma
LIDDLE, silver 2008 Honda Accord, Tacoma
IMSLYRU, green 1998 Toyota RAV-4, University Place
HAUNTD1, black 1972 Cadillac Hearse, Lakewood
EMYDUST, yellow 2003 Corvette, Tacoma
CALL911, white 1986 Porsche 911, University Place
OF10L8, white 2006 Kia Sedona, Tacoma
ECOMOM, 2005 Toyota Prius, Tacoma
SOYOTA, blue 1982 Toyota pickup, Tacoma
VEGFED, blue 2005 Volkswagen Jetta, Tacoma
LOWCO2, 2001 Toyota Prius, Edgewood
JAWBNE, black 2000 Night Train, Bonney Lake
TUCKIT, black 2002 Wide Glide, Bonney Lake
CRUELA, white 2006 Softail Deluxe, Milton
HRNDOG, black 2002 Fatboy, Puyallup
BBWULF, 2003, Fatboy, Tacoma
HOGAZM, blue 2003Road King, Tacoma
Hobbies and jobs
BUKFEVR, gray 2008 Chevrolet pickup, Fircrest
LV2KNIT, silver 2006 Honda Element, Fircest
BLKBELT, 1970 Ford pickup, Puyallup
ELKAHLC, yellow 1968 Jeep, Puyallup
USMCSF, red 2000 GMC pickup, Puyallup
ARTGIRL, blue 1999 Volkswagen Beetle, Tacoma
BOOKWRM, maroon 2006 Saturn Ion, Tacoma
FSTOP, 1991 Honda Accord, Tacoma
IBQILTN, silver 2000 Volvo S80, Tacoma
STRGZER, black 1991 Geo Storm, Tacoma
YAYMUD, red 1991 Toyota pickup, Tacoma
MUSISHN, yellow 2002 Chevrolet Corvette, Tacoma
BKEEPR, blue 1987 Ford pickup, Edgewood
DR2TH, write 2002 Lincoln LS, Lakewood
SPYNDOC, green 2003 Ford F-350 pickup, Orting
GASMAN1, 2006 GMC Yukon, Puyallup
TAXDRMY, gray 2006 Ford F-series pickup, Puyallup
SEEMENT, white 2000 Ford pickup, Spanaway
FUMIG8R, white 2006 Ford, model unclear, Tacoma
IRESCUE, red 2003 Ford Explorer, Tacoma
ATLAW, 2004 Lexus LS, University Place
DRTHV8R, 2005 Mazda RX-8, Bonney Lake
THEWZRD, green 1990 Ford Mustang, Bonney Lake
MUGGLE, blue 2006 Toyota Sienna, Bonney Lake
KRYPTON, burgundy 1991 Mitsubishi Eclipse, Buckley
XWING, blue 2005 Subaru Legacy, Graham
SHDOWFX, 2007 Dodge Ram pickup, Puyallup
SMEAGOL, blue 2003 Honda CR-V, Steilacoom
2NINJA, black 2007 Chevrolet Suburban, Tacoma
HOBBITS, 2006 Subaru Legacy, Tacoma
REDMAGE, white 2001 Toyota Corolla, Tacoma
VADRVAN, 2006 Honda Odyssey, Tacoma
STARFLT, blue 1995 Saturn SC1, Tacoma
UNYKORN, 2000 Chevrolet Voyager, Tacoma
STRGATE, orange 2003 Honda Element, Tacoma
TREKKIE, 2008 Toyota 4Runner, Tacoma
ICDRGNS, silver 2004 Chevrolet Aveo, University Place
LEET, silver 1998 Buick Park Avenue, Gig Harbor
Kind of naughty
NICEPKG, black 2004 BMW 330, Puyallup
PIMPALA, 1973 Chevrolet Impala, Puyallup
STONER, silver 1984 Porsche 911, Puyallup
YOURMOM, black 2002 Chevrolet Tracker, Puyallup
GETBENT, 1977 Chevrolet pickup, Tacoma
GLANDZ, blue 2006 Audi A6, Tacoma
HONKY, red 1994 Chevrolet pickup, Tacoma
LIC2KIL, white 2007 Ford F-series pickup, Tacoma
OJDIDIT, 2004 Dodge Dakota pickup, Tacoma
LUV2DRG, 2001 Dodge Ram pickup, Tacoma
DRAGRAC, 1991 Ford F-series pickup, University Place
POOPOO, 2008 Nissan Sentra, Dupont
KINKY1, 1969 Chevrolet Corvette, Graham
POOHBRU, white 1999 Subaru Legacy, Tacoma
BLACURA, black 2001 Acura 32CL, University Place
LILBOJP, black 1997 Jeep Wrangler, Lakewood
ZENGUY, white 1992 Nissan Stanza, Fife
ADONAI, 2008 Nissan Armada, Gig Harbor
FORGOD, black 2002 Honda VTX 1800, Puyallup
GDBWTHU, gray 1995 Saturn SL1, Puyallup
TAOIST, 1991 Geo Storm, Puyallup
GODS4U2, black 1996 Lexus SC3, Puyallup
GVIT2GD, red 1990 Honda Prelude, Tacoma
4GEESUS, 2001 Mercedes-Benz 320, Tacoma
CHURCHY, green 1989 Chevrolet pickup, Tacoma
GODZGR8, silver 2006 Ford Expedition, Tacoma
7THSIGN, 2003 Infiniti G35, Tacoma
PSALM46, silver 2003 Audi A4, Tacoma
URLOVED, red 2000 Jeep model unclear, Tacoma
ELOHIM, red 2000 Toyota Tundra, Tacoma
AUSIDOG, 2008 Chevrolet Suburban, Fircrest
CHOCLAB, 2001 Chevrolet pickup, Puyallup
CATSRME, red 2001 Chevrolet PT Cruiser, Puyallup
CATSAVR, 2005 Dodge Ram pickup, South Hill
LTACATZ, 2005 Toyota Rav4, Tacoma
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