Michigan License Plates
In 1903, the Detroit City Council legislated laws to register motor vehicles at a time when many automobile manufacturers were establishing facilities in Detroit. The first Michigan State license plates were issued in 1910. From 1910 through 1914, Michigan’s license plates were made of porcelain. Embossed steel license plates were fist issued in 1915. Due to the effects of the Great Depression, Michigan issued half-year license plates because the folks could not afford the full year cost of registering their vehicles in 1938. This system continued until 1946. In 1942, there was the option to extend the 6 month plate to a 12 month plate by the use of a dated strip.
In 1954, the first slogan appeared on the Michigan license plate “WATER WONDERLAND”. This embossed slogan was used until 1964. >From 1965 to 1967, Michigan used the embossed slogan “WATER – WINTER WONDERLAND” in two lines on bottom of the license plate. The year was also embossed on each license plate because plates were changed annually. The years 1968 through 1982 (except 1976, 1977 & 1978 where the red, white and blue bicentennial license plate was issued) the slogan “GREAT LAKE STATE” was embossed on the bottom of Michigan’s license plates. The first undated Michigan license plate (no year embossed) was issued in 1983 with the slogan “GREAT LAKES” embossed at the bottom.
The bicentennial license plate issued in 1976 was the first in Michigan to have artwork (white stars and 76 on a blue background). Michigan was slow to introduce retro-reflective 3M sheeting on their license plates. Reflective white lettering was introduced in 1971 and continued to 1983 – the 1983 plates was renewed with year decals until 2007. Michigan introduced a retro-reflective license plate for Antique Car Collectors in 1996 and this plate is still valid. The first retro-reflective license plate issued to all vehicles in Michigan was introduced in 1998, featuring a graphic of the state’s famous Mackinac Bridge with the slogan “Great Lakes Splendor”.