Does anyone know if all trucks in California had to be registered as a commercial vehicle in 1926? I can purchase eligible YOM 1926 plates, but the commercial stamped ones are less available and twice the money.
It depends on the body style of the truck. A huckster or Depot Wagon is technically a truck but we call them station wagons and get away with it. You can call a C cab a delivery car and not a delivery truck.
Mine is a flatbed TT. DMV issued a title as a truck. I didn't know if all trucks being commercial was a more recent classification. I mean recent as in the last 30 or 40 years.
I'm not 100% on this, but I seem to remember when I was a kid (1950's $ '60's) registering a pick-up truck as a "commercial" vehicle was optional. If you chose to register it as non-commercial (just like a car) then you were limited in what you were allowed to do with it. Specifically, you were not allowed to put so much as a bag of groceries in the bed and you could not park in a yellow "freight loading" zone, both of which were allowed if you had commercial plates.
I have no evidence to substantiate this, but I believe this system goes back to when commercial plates first appeared. Of course now in modern times I don't believe we have the choice any more. If it's a truck then it gets commercial plates, which I have on my TT.
I guess before I proceed with any YOM plate purchase, I should call the DMV and ask what will be allowed. Better safe than sorry.
YOM should work or you can get the Historic Vehicle Plate for any vehicle that is built after 1922 and is at least 25 years old. Weight fees I believe were waved several years ago for historic trucks under a certain weight. If not its only $8 for up to 2999 unladen weight. I had Horseless Carriage plates on a 1921 TT back in 1968, no weight fee but as mentioned the rules have changed since those days.
There is an exemption for "ancient" commercial vehicles that are not used in commercial service. I cannot quote the book, but I'm fairly certain it is available online. The current cut-off point may be clear up in the 1950s now. Note that if they catch you with a camper shell, or other "commercial use" you will be subject to much pain & anguish!
David Dewey is on the right track. Commercial vehicles built prior to 1936? are exempt from commercial fees and can be registered as a passenger vehicle. Also I doubt if the employees at DMV are bright enough to know the difference between a 26 commercial plate or passenger plate.
You could register your truck with current passenger plates (it will save you a $ or 2) and then later apply for YOM passenger plates.
I have a 1925 Pickup with commercial plates. I did it only because I thought it was cool. I now regret it, because I have to pay a higher license fee because of it. If you have a roadster with a pickup bed, I would register it as a roadster and save yourself a few $$$. The true answer to this post is California did not require commercial plates on pickups back in the day, in fact they didn't require them at all until 1974, when I was told my El Camino was now required to have commercial plates even though it was built on a station wagon chassis! It is just another way California has of getting more money out of the working people.
David, I may be wrong but I believe that in California you can put a camper shell on a pickup truck and because it can't haul freight, it can be registered as a passenger car.
I was paying about $566 a year for a commercial plate including the registration until I started suffering from Spinal Stenosis and polymyalgia Rheumatica and got a handicap plate. Now I pay only the $89 license fee and no more commercial fee.
You may be right about a camper SHELL, but not a full-size camper, AFAIK. BTW, where's your front plate? You can get pulled over for not having one!
Speaking of YOM plates, and commercial ones; my '25 YOM plates start with C and the clerk was going to declare them commercial until I told her to check her book, 25 commercial plates have a vertical COM on them, and (fortunately for me) the book did show that. It's just a co-incidence that my plate numbers starts with C.
The truth is that DMV is a mess. Every pickup that I can remember my dad driving from the mid fifties forward had commercial plates. In 1970 we bought a 1966 ranchero. It was registered with commercial plates. In 1971 the law changed. It qualified for passenger car plates. In about 1973 the law changed again. Had to put commercial plates back on it.
For those of you that live in Calif, the best thing you can do is go to DMV and buy the current edition of the vehicle code and read the sections of law that pertain to what you are trying to do. Learn the law and BRING the BOOK with you. Usually there will be no need to open the book.
If you want to save money on late fees and penalties then read the section on "non-op" vehicles and what vehicles are excluded. I don't pay late fees on cars I buy that have not been registered in years because I know the law and I save money when I buy older cars that are behind on registration.