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This road to 'antique' is paved with ignorance
By JEFF WEBB
Published August 7, 2007
I call mine Ol' Yeller, and hers White Lightin'.
Hers is a little younger and bigger and offers a smoother ride. Mine is older and smaller and is showing its age.
Both of us have 24/7 access to the other's, and we never pass up an opportunity to tell stories about our passion.
But the anticipation, all important in any relationship, took a wrong turn last week.
After years of inching closer to a dangling carrot of exclusivity, I learned that Ol' Yeller, my 23-year-old motor vehicle, is still seven years away from earning the respect he expected to attain in two years. And, White Lightin', my wife's trusted mode of moving about, which is two years younger than Ol' Yeller, is still nine years from grabbing the coup d'tat of coupes.
How sad for our sedans!
I came upon this disappointing news last week, when I visited the Tax Collector's Office to renew Ol' Yeller's vehicle registration. I usually do it by mail, but this year I also had to get a new driver's license.
While there, I decided to gather some information in preparation of an event for which I have waited many years. That's when my bubble was burst.
You see, I have been under the impression that when your car was 25 years old, it became eligible for an "antique" license plate. I have spent years waiting to don this designation. It has been a reliable staple of cocktail party and water cooler conversation, and I have so looked forward to the day when I could screw on a silver-anniversary plate.
Unfortunately, my expectation was based on information provided sincerely, albeit inaccurately, many years ago by a trusted source. Because it involved my personal life, as opposed to my profession, I guess I let down my guard, committing the cardinal rule of information gathering:
The nice lady at the Tax Collector's Office did that for me last week.
In order to purchase an "antique" license plate, your vehicle must be 30 years old. In fact, 25 years was never even a milestone in this regard. You once could purchase a "collectible" plate if your vehicle was 20, but the state Legislature did away with that designation in 1999.
Apparently, none of the friends I have talked to about getting my 25-year "antique" plate was aware of that time-frame, either. Like me, they blindly trusted what they were told about "antique" status. Or perhaps they were preoccupied with the newness of their cars and were just politely nodding their heads as I rattled on about old cars and high mileage. (Ol' Yeller has logged about 295,000; the odometer on White Lightin' stopped working at 389,000 about three years ago.)
Together, these diesel engine Mercedes-Benzes constitute the transportation fleet my wife and I affectionately call the We-Love-Not-Having-a-Car-Payment Club. We are among the fortunate few who have a friend who is a master mechanic and likes the challenge of keeping an old car on the road. That is no small feat in today's disposable society.
So, I apologize to those I have misinformed - or bored - over the years. I should have made sure I knew what I was talking about before opening my big mouth.
But 2014 is just around the corner. I wonder if they sell those antique plates for people, too?
Jeff Webb is editor of editorials for the Hernando Times. He can be reached at email@example.com or (352) 754-6123.