What’s your license plate say? Probably just a nonsensical combination of letters and numbers in random sequence, huh? Boooring—and lacking in hometown spirit.
Capitalizing on hometown spirit is something that MyPlates.com, which is licensed through the state to provide vanity plates in a truly staggering array of design options to Texas motorists, made a lot of money on this week. The website auctioned off plates with the names of various cities throughout Texas and the United States, revealing the affection—or lack thereof—among Texans for their hometowns.
Coming in in first place was “DALLAS,” of course, which fetched a staggering $7,250 from someone who loves Dallas so much that they wanted everyone in the state to know about it. This was over $5,000 more than the next-closest option fetched—though other populous Texas cities with names short enough to fit onto license plates weren’t available. (The “HOUSTON” and “AUSTIN” plates, we can assume, were purchased by someone at the standard price of $195 for one year, or $595 for ten.)
There was an “AUSTIN1” in the bidding, however, and it sold at the auction for a still-rather shocking $1,400, which is frankly a lot of money for a license plate that tells the world that you were, at best, the second person who loved Austin so much she wanted to display it on her bumper. El Pasoans, being a bit less blindly fanatical about their love of their city than their brethren in the Capitol, left “ELPASO1” unsold, while “HOUSTON1,” at eight letters, was not an option.
It’s interesting to consider what did sell, in the Texas city options, against what didn’t: “LUBBOCK” fetched $1,000, as did “MISSION,” and “ALAMOTX.” (“WEST TEX” went for $1,100.) Meanwhile, Mission and Alamo’s more cosmopolitan neighbor, “MCALLEN,” received no bids. Of course, the words “Mission” and “Alamo” have connotations outside of the cities they represent. The sale of “LUBBOCK” is less surprising, given that the city’s population is roughly double that of unsold city plates like “ABILENE,” “MIDLAND,” “BAYTOWN,” and “KILLEEN.” The also undesired “LAPORTE” plate should perhaps surprise no one, given the city’s population is under 35,000.
Outside of Texas, the “it’s also a word that has a meaning outside of the state name” factor didn’t garner “BUFFALO” any bids, which went unloved by Texan bidders, along with “OAKLAND” and “ATLANTA.” More desirable, clearly, were “ST. LOUIS” ($1,000), “CHICAGO” ($1,600), “NEW YORK” ($1,700), and—second only to Dallas, to our surprise—”DETROIT,” which sold for $1,800, which suggests an unlikely bidding war for the right to lay claim to the Motor City. (We’ll assume that the final bidder, identified only as “D****k” on the website, was not Ted Nugent.)
Those looking to score a cheap option on many of the city names that went unsold, meanwhile, are out of luck. The MyPlates.com website only allows six characters per plate, so you’ll be stuck at “BUFFAL.” As a consolation, might we suggest you purchase the at-press-time available vanity plate that reads “DEION,” in an attempt to convince people behind you that they’re following Deion Sanders.
(Update: MyPlates.com informs us that “HOUSTON” was purchased at auction in 2013 for $25,000. “AUSTIN,” however, was sold for the standard price in the years before MyPlates.com existed.)