How to hide your front plate and still be legal

    2018 Lexus LC 500h (Sinclair Broadcast Group / Jill Ciminillo)

    Anyone who has ever bought a vehicle with a distinctive grille cringes at the thought of having to mar the surface with a license plate.

    Then there are those who’ve bought a classic car who wouldn’t dream of drilling a hole in the perfectly restored paint just to obey the law.

    However, 31 states, and Washington DC, require vehicles to display both front and rear license plates.

    What’s a proud car owner to do?

    Rather than tape it to the front windshield, which technically doesn’t obey the letter of the law, we have a better solution: a retractable license plate holder.

    I didn’t realize such a thing existed until visiting the Collectors’ Car Garage in Chicago, where people house their vintage and collectible vehicles. Since Illinois is a front-plate state and a lot of these vehicles are worth quite a bit of money, I was impressed with the ingenuity of the owners to obey the law and maintain the integrity of their vehicles.

    The primary maker of this retractable plate is Altec, which is an auto accessory maker located in Minnesota – also a front-plate state.

    Called the “Show ‘N’ Go” license plate transport, there are two versions you can buy: one is manual and the other is battery-operated. Both include a stainless steel bracket and mounting hardware.

    Show ‘N’ Go mounts underneath your front bumper, and when in the retracted position, it is virtually unnoticeable.

    The manual version, after mounted, allows you to stow and retract the plate holder with a one-handed operation. The battery-operated version comes with two remote transmitters that look kind of like a key fob, and it allows you to stow or retract the plate with a touch of a button.

    Want more details? Check out this video review from Gears and Gasoline.

    The Bottom Line:

    Designers are dreamers at heart, and very few take into consideration the position of a front license plate when creating their work of art.

    Take, for example, any of the new Lexus vehicles. The front profile is completely ruined with the addition of the front plate.

    Because automakers often want you to experience the car as it should be, I’ve gotten more than one ticket for not having a front plate because the vehicle was delivered without it.

    Hello, Show ‘N’ Go.

    Altec’s retractable plate is patented, and I didn’t see anything else like it out there in Googleland. You can buy it directly from the Altec website or you can find it on Amazon. If you’re more of a tactile in-the-store-buyer, you might also get lucky and find a retailer who carries the product nearby.

    All in all, I think this is a brilliant solution to the ugly front-plate-state dilemma.

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