British Columbia Collector License Plates

After 24 years of struggling under the restrictive tennents of the Antique license plate program (initiated in 1966) - which limited use only to special events - vintage car owners began to lobby the province in the late 1980s for a more flexibile option that would allow them to drive their vehicles more regularly.
To achieve this, the Vintage Car Club of Canada (VCCC) and Specialty Vehicle Association of BC (SVABC) formed a committee to help develop a "Collector" licensing program and begin lobbying provincial politicians.
Accoridng to Russ Fraser, who was Solicitor General (1990-91) at the time and also a collector of old cars, Claude Richmond, MLA for Kamloops, approached him with the idea for a Collector license plate program. Fraser then raised the idea with Tommy Holmes, then CEO of ICBC, who was "dead set against it" and claimed that neither the police nor the Motor Vehicle Branch (MVB) were in favour of the idea.
Undeterred, Fraser approached local police associations who advised that they had no objections, while the Superintendent of the MVB, Keith Jackman (a classic car enthusiast)supported the introduction of the program.
In his dual roles of Solicitor General and Attorney General, Fraser was able to overrule Holmes' objections, and directed the ICBC CEO to implement the program, thus allowing owners of unique vehicles 25 years and older to obtain Collector license plates (and the the reduced insurance rates that came with them).
Dave Hollins Collection

Left: Russ Fraser proudly displays collector plate: B00 000 which, while hard to see, is still in its original plastic sleeve. Shown with Russ is his wife Jone and her 1980 Mercedes Benz 450SL which - shock(!) - does not display Collector plates.
Above: A sample Collector plate (Astrographic dies) similar to the one being held by Fraser in the photo at left. While not common, there are a few of these sample plates in the hands of collectors (including Fraser).

At the time of its introduction in November of 1990, the press erroneously focused on the first to characters in the license plate - "B0" - and incorrectly interpreted this as "BO" (body odour) and pressed Fraser "if anybody in his department [had] noticed the letters connotations"? Fraser, not realising the press' error, responded that "we are not going to worry about that ... [but] I suppose we could have changed it."
For classic car owners, however, the new program meant they could now qualify for third-party insurance at a rate of 20% regular insurance provided they had another primary vehicle they could use and their collector vehicle is 25 years or older or at least 15 years old and of a limited production run.
More specific details on qualifying vehicles can be found at ICBC's web-site. At the time of their release, the 1st plate in the series ("B00-001") was issued to Ron Peigl, who was President of the SVABC at the time and Chaired the Committee that helped to create the plates. According to Nigel Matthews, current President of the SVABC, BC's Collector plate is "one of the best programs in North America, if not the best".

Passenger: 1st Bloc (1990 - 1994)
Dave Hollins Collection
Issuing Statistics
B00-001 to B09-999

Passenger: 2nd Bloc (1994 - 2002)
Issuing Statistics
B40-000 to B49-999
Passenger: 3rd Bloc (2002 - 2007)
Issuing Statistics
B50-000 to B59-999


Plates from the mid-B54-000
bloc display Waldale dies.
When the Collector plate program first started in 1990, owners of collector vehicles to adhere to original manufacturer’s specifications, making modified vehicles ineligible for collector vehicle status.
This was changed in 2000 when the the criteria for "Custom" cars to be eligible were introduced provided the car was manufactured prior to 1948.
This changed again on May 18, 2006, when (then) Solicitor General John Les announced that 1958 and older “hot rods” and “custom” vehicles could be registered as Collector cars.

John Les arriving at the steps of the Legislature in Victoria on May 18, 2006,
to announce an expansion to the Collector license plate program.

According to Les, "“The era of drive-in movies, the cold war, civil rights and rock and roll was also a time of glorious cars that are still much loved and cherished today. That’s why we’re expanding the eligibility time frame for collector cars from 1948 to 1958, and allowing a larger pool of vehicles to qualify for the collector motor vehicle program."
This announcement would see an increase in the issuance of Collector plates so that the 4th Bloc of 10,000 plates (B10-000 to B19-999) woudl be exhausted in a record pace of only four years!
Passenger: 4th Bloc (2007 - 2010)
Issuing Statistics
B10-000 to B19-999

Passenger: 5th Bloc (2010 - 2014)
Issuing Statistics
B20-000 to B29-999
Dual decal wells are thought to have appeared on the Collector plates between plate No. B27-469 & B27-489.
In 2014, the SVABC petitioned the provincial government to issue a Proclamation recognising "all the work car clubs in B.C. do to raise money for charity" - which they did on July 12th, proclaiming "Collector Car Appreciation Day and Month".
Shown above is long-time friend of this site, Keith Jackman, who was the last Superintendent of the MVB in the 1980s and 1990s (prior to its amalgamation with ICBC in 1996) and a driving force behind the Proclamation!
Below is Minister Rich Coleman who stickhandled the Proclamation through the government's Executive Council.

Passenger: 6th Bloc (2014 - TBD)
Issuing Statistics
2014- :
B30-000 to B39-999

"Multi-Vehicle" Collector plates are used by people who have multiple vinatge cars, but only want to use one license plate for all of them (obviously, this limits how many cars they can take to a show!). Apart from the registration numbers, these plate differe from other "Collector" plates in that they state "Multi Vehicle" under the "Collector" title at the top of the plate.
1990 - 2013: "Passenger Floater"
Bill Hobbis Collection
Don Schneider Collection
Issuing Statistics
B6-0000 to B6-1000

One wonders sometimes about abuse of the "Multi-Vehicle" Collector plates ... well, shown at left is a possible example.

Not only have a set of plates (i.e. same number: "B6-0513") been split-up and used on two different vehicles, but if you look closely you can see that the plates are fakes!

Best we can tell, these have been printed out on a high quality card stock and while this person has obvious skill, the dies are not quite accurate representations of the Waldale dies currently used on the Collector plates.

1990 - 2008: Motorcycle (Astrographic dies)

Don Schneider Collection
Dave Hollins Collection
Don Schneider Collection
Issuing Statistics
B8-0001 to B9-9999
Don Schneider Collection
Dave Hollins Collection
Don Schneider Collection
As of August 1, 2009, the high plate in the series was B8-7464. It is thought that the first batch manufactued ran from B8-0001 to B8-5000 utilising Astrographics dies. The first Waldale dies did not begin appearing until 2007.

2007 - present: Motorcycle (Waldale dies)

Mike Sells Collection    
Issuing Statistics

1990 - 2013: "Motorcycle Floater"

Dave Hollins Collection
Issuing Statistics
B7-5001 to B7-5100
The "Multi-Vehicle" Collector equivalent for motorcycle plates, this type is even more exceedingly rare than its passenger plate counterpart and it is unlikely that more than a few hundred will ever be issued under this format.

Vancouver Sun Newspaper
Dan Howlett, "Decoding British Columbia License Plates", (October 28, 2001).
Insurance Corporation of British Columbia, (Ocotber 28, 2001).


© Copyright Christopher John Garrish. All rights reserved.