Monday, December 12, 2011

The Holy Grails of License Plates

My ZZ-/AA- North Carolina license plate game still isn't done yet; I have yet to find an AAS- license plate. Apparently, they do exist, so I haven't given up hope yet. In any license plate game, that last one is always hard to find.

But I do have another license plate quest, one that I almost surely will never complete. There are two North Carolina license plates that I consider to be the "Holy Grails" of license plates. One is ZZZ-9999, the very last in alphanumeric order. The other is ABC-1234, which I just think is a neat plate. If these two plates are like their ZZZ and ABC brethren, then they were likely issued about a year ago, so they're out there.

(Why don't I consider the first license plate in alphanumeric order to be a "Holy Grail"? Because according to this, North Carolina started with AAA-1001, rather than AAA-0000 or AAA-0001. So when you see AAA-1001 on the road, it's not obvious that it's "first", and therefore not as awesome. Whereas, ZZZ-9999 is obviously last.)

Of course, finding a specific license plate is like finding a needle in a haystack. You have to be VERY VERY LUCKY to even come close. The odds would suggest that the owners of ZZZ-9999 and ABC-1234 live nowhere near me. Maybe one of them is in, say, New Bern (a city I almost never visit), and the owner is an 80-year-old who never even leaves town, let alone crosses I-95. If that's the case, it's never going to happen.

While my chances of spotting either "Holy Grail" are indeed very slim, based on some recent developments, I think this is worth talking about. I have actually come reasonably close (numerically speaking) to both plates. A few weeks back, while pulling out of the parking lot at the curling rink, I spotted the ABC-1324 plate. So close! (Closer in a dyslexic sense than a numerical sense, of course.) I have seen several other ABC-1XXX plates in the Triangle as well, suggesting that most or all of the ABC-1XXX plates were issued locally. So ABC-1234 has to be around here...somewhere.

ZZZ-9999 is going to be a little more tricky, though. I haven't noticed a pattern with the ZZZ- plates. They're all over the state. They're even in other states as well; once I saw a ZZZ- North Carolina plate on a rental car in Maryland. (One of the other teams at The Kayser in February had one, which is how I knew it was a rental car.) In fact, I had only seen one ZZZ-9XXX plate to date at all. That is, until I went to Charlotte on Saturday. There, I spotted ZZZ-9995, and hurried (safely and without endangering myself or others, of course) to get the best picture I could:

I didn't think I'd ever get this close to ZZZ-9999, so...yeah! And if you squint, it kind of looks like ZZZ-9999, doesn't it? I thought about following this person to his/her parking spot to get a better picture, but decided that would only be worth doing if the plate were the "Holy Grail" itself.

The ZZZ-9995 car proceeded towards a shopping center parking lot, so it's highly probable that the owner is local to the Charlotte area. The way North Carolina license plates are issued, if ZZZ-9995 is based in Charlotte, then ZZZ-9999 is probably in Charlotte too, right? You'd think so. But like I said, ZZZ- plates have been spotted all over the place, so I don't know if this was an isolated find, or if there are many ZZZ-9XXX plates in Charlotte. (I forget where I saw the other ZZZ-9XXX plate, but I think it was in the Triangle.) Regardless, there's really no way for me to know whether there are more ZZZ-9XXXs to be found in Charlotte without going back and driving up and down South Boulevard a bunch of times in order to gather more data. (That's not something I recommend, by the way. There are a lot of things I like about Charlotte, but traffic isn't one of them.)

Even though I think I've figured out where each plate is located, the chances of me finding either ZZZ-9999 or ABC-1234 are still very long. But it is promising that ZZZ-9999 might be in a part of the state I do occasionally visit (as opposed to, say, Hendersonville), and that ABC-1234 could literally be right around the corner. It could happen!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I was in Asheville recently and saw a bunch of AAS plates, so they were apparently distributed by Asheville area DMVs.

The reason some prefixes are common to particular areas and some appear scattered is that plates are distributed by DMVs and via the mail. A prefix common to a particular area probably came from a local DMV whereas a prefix scattered like ZZZ was probably mailed from a DMV state office.