The details that make a restoration: How we scored period-correct registration stickers. | Project Porsche 911 Carrera

Among life’s great mysteries: Stonehenge, the Big Bang and a reason for the empty registration sticker box in the corner of New York’s old orange license plates.

Let us explain.

Even though Radwood has come and gone, we’re still working on the details to return our 1984 Porsche 911 Carrera to the year of its birth. Just before leaving for Radwood, we found some period-correct New York plates in our own garage.

Photography Credit: Chris Tropea

Best we can tell–although we’re sure someone out there will correct us–the series seemed to jibe with a plate issued before 1984.

We’d be period correct, we figured. Success! The 1984 plates would perfectly match our 1984 Porsche, our 1984 BMX bike and even our 1984 radar detector. (Oh, and also our 1984 IMSA sticker, our 1984 Curb Dogs T-shirt and our 1984 Agent Orange cap.)

[Rad car, rad bike, Radwood | Project Porsche 911 Carrera]

But how would non-New Yorkers (aka everyone else) know that these plates were period correct? There’s no year on them. Maybe they’d think we’re poseurs–or even worse?

Like many states, for decades New York issued dated plates every year or two. From 1966 through 1972, however, the state stuck with a dark blue plate featuring orange digits–yes, the state colors.

These plates featured a box in the lower-right corner for a registration sticker. 

From 1973 all the way through 1986, the state-issued plates that reversed those colors: dark blue on orange.

ECTO-1 wore one of these orange plates.


The sticker box remained, yet during this time passenger cars were issued registration stickers that were affixed to the inside of the glass. The stickers were to be placed in the lower, driver-side corner. (A safety inspection sticker went beside it; the color of these stickers changed annually.)

So during these years, most of these the little registration sticker boxes went empty. Call it a vestigial structure of sorts.

We needed that windshield registration sticker yet, sadly, our time machine is still on the fritz.

Some internet searching turned us onto Robert Hoyt’s Classic Windshield Stickers, a clearing house of sorts of inspection and registration stickers from days gone by.

For $19, we scored a reproduction of a 1984 New York registration sticker. And for another $19, we bought the matching safety and emission inspection sticker.

The stickers arrived a few days after placing the order. To make the stickers fully legit, we just had to find a hole punch and mark the expiration date.

Like the originals, these stickers apply to the inside of the glass. The backsides of the stickers are appropriately detailed, too.

Oh, and don’t worry, when on the street, the Porsche wears a legal Florida tag.

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