4

Gary Fox's Vintage License Plates

^
Keep New Times Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Phoenix and help keep the future of New Times free.

In 1978, Gary Fox moved to Arizona from Wisconsin, and brought his car and license plates along with him. He needed to switch over to Arizona plates, though, so he headed over to the Motor Vehicle Division.

One problem: The state workers wanted his old Wisconsin plates, and Fox wanted to keep them as souvenirs. He was handed a screwdriver.

Fox begrudgingly turned over one, and then slipped the other behind his back. The MVD employee didn't notice that Wisconsin law required a front and rear plate. Fox still has the one he hid, which is now part of his collection of about 1000.

See some of Fox's vintage license plates after the jump...


Fox has at least one Arizona license plate for every year since 1912 (when Arizona became a state), and a few from before that, when cities printed their own plates. He especially prizes three of them made during a stint in the '30s when the state manufactured copper plates.

Fox prizes Arizona plates for their uniqueness, simplicity and odd historical stories. In earlier years, when Arizona plates were numbered based on the size of counties, Greenlee citizens complained enough to have their number switched from 13 to 15 (they blamed their accidents on bad luck).

In addition to the Arizona plates, Fox collects plates from around the country made in his birth year (1953), a regular practice for a lot of collectors. But Fox isn't making things easy on himself; the plates also have to end in the number 53. He's collected about half of the states so far -- "The easy half," he says. But, still, hunting down plates from 50-plus years ago isn't exactly easy.

Fox's hobby has landed him in some trouble, too. He purchased a personalized license plate with the numbers "000," for a unique touch. State police use 000 as a default number for cars to be on the look-out for, Fox says. He got a parking ticket after a Tucson attendant accidentally left the default number, and got pulled over twice because officers ran the plate as a stolen car. After the first time, Fox caught on.

"I said, "Let me guess, this car came up stolen," Fox says he told the officer.

He eventually took off the license plate, but still keeps it around as part of his collection.

Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.

 

Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Phoenix.

 

Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Phoenix.