Katie Brown, of Lynnwood, has made a fun hobby of noticing personalized plates. She snaps photos of the ones she sees and posts them to a special album on Facebook; friends contribute their own finds.
In one week, she saw a “DOGTRNR” in a Lexus, “CATNISS” driving through the rain in a Toyota Rav4, a Dodge Charger mocking those “SLO5SPD” cars, and a PT Cruiser with a specialty plate featuring the University of Washington’s “W” logo followed by “RSHPGOD.”
And that was just a few of them.
We are suckers for these things. (The Subaru Outback owners spotted by Brown might say, “They’re ONTOS.”)
“What made that person choose that plate? What story comes along with that plate? And trying to look at the people in the car when I pass, I make up these stories in my head,” Brown said.
Like the little old lady in a Cadillac marked “COUGAR.”
“I’ll never forget that one,” Brown said.
Street Smarts called for your personalized license plate finds, and readers did not disappoint.
Several shared their own plates.
Sharon Ricketts, of Bothell, has had fun personalizing what she swears is actually her son’s truck. The beat-up F-250 already features a growing collection of lettered decals stickered to its metal frame, one of which calls the truck an “anvil on wheels.” To all that she’s added the personalized plate “MINIMAK.” A tiny Mack Truck bulldog is mounted on the hood.
“If you don’t think it’s fun to drive that truck,” Ricketts said.
There’s only a few letters to work with. But that’s just fine for a man of few words.
Ed Reuter, of Lake Stevens, put “NOPEYEP” on his and his wife’s Toyota Echo, then turned around with “YEPNOPE” on the Dodge Ram. “My plates stand for 80 percent of what I say at work and at home day in and day out,” Reuter said.
Marguerite Witten, of Everett, used to travel the country in a motorhome with her husband. “Our coach license plate read ‘FTLOOS,’ and our tow vehicle was ‘FNCFRE,’” she said.
Once the motorhoming days ended, so did the plates.
Margaret Bright, a “77-year young great grandma” from Lake Stevens, has a red Corvette with the license plate “IDZRVIT.”
She’s put it on all her cars since seven characters were first allowed in the 1980s. Most of those cars have been Corvettes.
“If I’m going to have a Corvette, I want a personalize plate that’s about me,” Bright said.
After getting a red Spyder in 2005, Belinda Kelly spent months trying to figure out just the right personalized plate.
The winner: “ITCBTSY.”
Kelly, of Snohomish, has fun watching peoples’ reactions in her rearview mirror. “You can immediately tell the people who are ‘Oh yeah!’ And they’ll nudge each other.”
She also has a yellow Nissan Juke with “BMBLE.” A bee sticker completes the thought.
“I don’t want to be boring,” Kelly said.
Of course, the meaning isn’t always so obvious.
Marty Jones, of Everett, has enjoyed deciphering personalized plates ever since his dad ordered a set in the 1970s.
One of his favorites is a Tesla Roadster in Bellevue with “OOFFOO.” “For those tech savvy enough, that is the Hex color code for green,” Jones said.
The car was black. But the electric-powered technology is “green.”
“Of course it is most fun when you come across a standard issue plate that is funny,” he said. “We spotted a newer Subaru Forester with ‘ASH0000.’ Maybe Sneezy was driving.”
(Now I wonder about the driver of the Volkswagen Passat marked “AGE5252.”)
When we see an especially good one, it’s likely to stick with us for years.
Doug Adams, of Snohomish, says the best one he ever spotted was in Seattle about two years ago. The black Jeep Grand Cherokee said “BA BA.”
George Hargus, of Bothell, still remembers the tiny Mini Cooper he saw on I-5 somewhere south of Tacoma years ago that boasted: “I8N SUV.”
Sue Grigsby, of Lake Stevens, says her all-time favorite was a convertible VW Rabbit spotted about three decades ago in California: “TPLSBNY.”
One that’s bound to make the list for Jen Barnes, of Lake Stevens, is on a local Scion with a Sounders specialty plate she sees around town. The small SUV identifies as a “HUMMWEE.”
Like most folks, once I started paying attention, I began to see personalized plates everywhere.
There was the “SITH” at the library (a Toyota FJ Cruiser whose “other car is a Warthog”).
A “JSPLNQT” Honda Fit parked outside Everett High School.
And a “HELLA” Chevrolet HHR with fake bullet holes right next to the Imagine Children’s Museum.
In the Costco parking lot, the owner of a Kia Optima enlisted a Sharpie to get around the lack of special characters: “WWW (dot) COM.”
Some might have Washington plates. But they’ll have those plates let you know their hearts lay elsewhere.
There’s the “FL G8TR” that a reader and I have each spotted in the Mill Creek area.
I also spotted a Toyota Prius “FROMVT.”
Then there was the PT Cruiser festooned with University of Oregon paraphenlia and stating “IMADUCK.” (Duly noted.)
But far more folks express their love of our local sports teams.
I saw a lot of “COUG” fans with variations built on those four letters, as well as one “DG4EVR” on a University of Washington specialty plate.
(It’s nearly spring, so I’ll definitely give a shout-out to the Dodge Charger and its call to “PLYBALL.”)
More than anyone, Seahawks fans represent.
A Toyota pickup sporting a Seahawks specialty license plate proclaims it’s “GR82B12.”
And if you didn’t know it already by the paint job and gobs of Seahawks decals, a PT Cruiser owner is a proud “12THWN.” (If you can’t figure it out, a window sticker helpfully translates: “12th Woman.”)
Other Hawk plates spotted were “MYCHAWK,” “12-BEAR” and “HAWSKFN.”
Many reflect their love of their car.
I spotted “1SICKTL,” otherwise known as an Acura TL.
A Cadillac driver apparently has to work “2JOBS-4” their love of vehicles.
It’s a “HME4KYM” on a Dodge Charger that, presumably, has a Hemi engine.
And then there’s the “BLUBUGY” driving around Everett that is, you guessed it, a blue Volkswagen Bug.
Some celebrate favorite hobbies, such as “ONBELAY” on a Toyota SUV.
Others promote favorite causes.
There was “BIKEWA” on a Toyota Prius with a “Share the Road” specialty plate to benefit the Bicycle Alliance of Washington, and “4SCUBA” on a specialty plate featuring an orca, benefiting endangered wildlife throught he Department of Fish and Wildlife.
A boxy little SUV with a specialty plate supporting the Washington State Federation of Animal Care and Control Agencies is a rolling public service announcement, with a remidner to “FIXPETS.”
But like others, I most enjoyed the ones who went for humor.
A red Chevy Aveo is labeled a “RTNTMTO.”
The pickup with “WINDEX” still makes me giggle.
Or there’s simply “JOKING.”
(“JUSMILE” and nod.)
Pop culture makes appearances.
I wonder if Eddy or Pats are behind the wheel of the Mini Cooper marked “AB FAB.” (Cheers to that.)
My co-worker spotted a Subaru Crosstrek on the interstate. It was orange, with the “NUBLACK” addition.
Some of my favorite finds:
“STHDH2O” on a Suburban with a specialty plate highlighting Washington’s steelhead to support the Department of Fish and Wildlife.
“STRDUST” on a Tesla, which seems appropriate as a Tesla Roadster speeds toward Mars.
“2NUOUT” on a red Ford Escape.
And, of course, the one that started it all: “JUSSAYN” on a Honda Accord.
But of the ones I personally spotted, the top honor has got to go to a nice little Honda hatchback called “QAZMODO.”
It’s all “JUZ4FUN,” as a Hyundai owner put it.
Melissa Slager: firstname.lastname@example.org; 425-339-3432.