British Columbia Passenger License Plates
1979 - 1985

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One word can be used to describe the short tenure of the blue base-plates from 1979-1986; Bland!
1979-1981
 
While the dies that had first begun to appear on plates towards then end of 1978 would initially be carried over to the new series, other changes were being implemented. The most significant of these was the re-sizing of the decal box and its centered positioning on the bottom of the plates. This was done to accommodate the introduction of cyclical license plate renewal and decals that would be required to clearly show the month of issue. For registered drivers, the new plates would be issued with no decal, expiring as per usual at the end of February of the proceeding year, at which point a 1981 expiration decal would be dispensed. For those owning cars for the first time after April 1st, 1979, or purchasing a vehicle requiring license plates, a decal would be issued that would remain valid for twelve months, or until the last day of the end of the month in which it was purchased.
1982-1984

 
Issued in blocks of one million plates, the blue base-plates reverted to the numbering system first used in 1970, starting at AAA-000 to KKJ-999, and AAL-000 to KKX-999. What appear, at first to be two different styles of dies can be seen in these blocks. The first is the traditional Quebec dies introduced in 1978. The 1979 plate pictured above is an example of this style. In other cases, such as the 1980 plate pictured at left, the application of the white paint was rather overdone leaving a blurred and poorly defined serial. Nevertheless, in both cases the dies are the same.
1985-1986
   

The third million started at ALL-000 and went to KXX-999, and it is in this block that the first of the Nova Scotia dies began to appear – being used until the end of the run in 1986. Not as crisp as the original Quebec dies, certain numbers and characters such as “3” easily distinguish these plates.

Low Numbers
Larry Matte Collection
Larry Matte Collection

 

Although there isn't very much that is exciting about the Blue Base Plate, there are always the low numbers, and pictured above are some of the lowest.
Due to unforeseen production delays of the new Flag Graphic in 1985, the blue base-plate series had to be extended by approximately 150,000 plates, starting at ALA-000 and running through to BRB-999 by the summer of 1985. In the end, the demise of this base plate was tied to changing technology and complaints by law-enforcement of poor visibility.
End of the Series
   
KXX marked the end of the third million, while the ASE plate pictured at right was part of the run of 150,000 plates required in the summer of 1985 due to delays with the new Flag Graphic base. The series of plates pictured at left (i.e. BNK-375 to BNK-399) are part of this same run and were never issued)
 
Oddball
This oddball showed up for sale in late 2009 as part of the liquidation of Wes Willoughby's collection:
Shown at left is an undated photo of Wes holding the British Columbia No. 1 plate (which is also shown above) along with the No. 1 plate issued to the Governor of Kentucky sometime in the 1970s.
Based out of San Fransisco, Willoughby spent approximately 20 years amassing the first collection of license plates from every issuing state, nation, province, island and territory in the world!
When this particular plate was listed for sale (at $250 USD for those who are curious), it was claimed that it had previously been on the Premier's own vehicle.
While it is a common practice in the United States for the Governor to be issued with plate No. 1, this is not the case in British Columbia, nor does the single-digit correspond with the alpha-numeric series used by the province since 1970.
Rather, it is assumed that in his quest for a plate from every jurisdiction, Willoughby wrote to the Province requesting a specimen and was presented with what can best be described as a test plate happening to bare the coveted No. 1.

Quick Links:
1904-1912  | 1913-1914  |  1915-1917  |  1918-1923  |  1924-1929  |  1930  |  1931-1935  |  1936-1939  |  1940-1948  |  1949-1951
1952-1954  |  1955-1963  |  1964-1969  |   1970-1978  |  1979-1985  |  1985-2001  |  2001-2014  |  2014-2023  |  2023 and beyond

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