Local

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.

Fancy cars

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

Self-referential

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

Eco-Friendly

ECOMOM, 2005 Toyota Prius, Tacoma

SOYOTA, blue 1982 Toyota pickup, Tacoma

VEGFED, blue 2005 Volkswagen Jetta, Tacoma

LOWCO2, 2001 Toyota Prius, Edgewood

Harley-Davidson

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

Nerdy

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

Punny

POOHBRU, white 1999 Subaru Legacy, Tacoma

BLACURA, black 2001 Acura 32CL, University Place

LILBOJP, black 1997 Jeep Wrangler, Lakewood

Religious

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

Pets

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

RELATED LINKS


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