License plates are one of those mundanities of life nobody discusses all that much, but I’m willing to bet everyone has an opinion on. If you’ve lived somewhere long enough, you’ve seen multiple designs come and go, and earlier today we asked you which state had the best of them.
Full disclosure: I initially wanted to whip up a list of the best current plates in the U.S., but what I quickly discovered was that the vast majority of plates issued today kind of suck. There are a few modern outliers, but from what I can gather, license plate design peaked in the ’70s and ’80s, before touching off a long downward spiral in the ’90s that lasted through the 2000s. The past decade has seen returns to form for a few states, but I fear the golden era of aesthetically-appealing vehicle registration has long since passed us by.
Bearing that in mind, I’m going to honor America’s best-ever license plates the only way I know how: with a slideshow and a few overly romantic words about how things used to be better, gosh darn it.