An online auction for specialty Colorado license plates for car aficionados kicked off Tuesday and will run through Oct. 12.
And on that day, a special in-person auction will allow car fans to bid for some hot license plate configurations. Think 911 — for a Porsche 911 — or C8, a Corvette model.
The auctions will benefit the state's Disability Funding Committee, according to Doug Platt of the Department of Personnel and Administration, which administers the fund on behalf of the governor's office.
The idea of specialty configurations (the alphanumeric characters that you can custom order for a license plate) isn't new, according to Platt. The General Assembly authorized a precursor committee under legislation in 2011, known as the Laura Hershey Disability Support Act, which helps those with disabilities obtain benefits.
But efforts to put money into the program — the legislation dictated that it be funded mostly by the specialty license plate program — have been a slow-starter.
Some initial funds from the General Assembly have kept the program afloat, but Platt and others are hoping the online auction — a first — will generate the kinds of money that will provide grants to nonprofits and individuals who need help collecting disability benefits. To date, according to Platt, they've only been able to give out "microgrants" in the $5,000 to $10,000 range. But the fund's website talks about much bigger grants, up to $50,000, for the future.
A test auction generated a $250 bid from an animal lover for the configuration of "Woof," Platt said.
So what kinds of license plates are up for auction? The online auction, which started Tuesday, will allow bids on 20 license plate names, including:
Platt explained that the auction is designed for high-end car aficionados — those who favor BMW, Porsche, Bentley and McLaren, for example.
On Oct. 12, a live, in-person auction will be held at Vehicle Vault in Parker, a car museum. That auction will feature the following configurations:
- 911 (for the Porsche model 911)
- C8 (for the Corvette)
- M3 (A BMW model)
The Bentley configuration has an interesting backstory. The holder of that plate allowed the registration to lapse, and the way the law is written, Platt said, if that configuration lapses, it's available to the public for 12 months. If no one snatches it up in 12 months, the Disability Funding Committee has the authority to reserve it, and that's how the committee got the rights to the Bentley plate.
Platt said they hope a couple hundred car enthusiasts will show up at the museum for the auction, weather permitting. There's already a car club that meets there once a month to show off McLarens, Ferraris and restored older cars, he said.
Future auctions won't be limited to car fanatics, he said. They could do auctions for sports fans, animal lovers or other interest groups.
Once someone wins the right to a configuration, they can put it on a vanity plate, subject to existing state and motor vehicle laws and rules.
"There's nothing quite like it in the rest of the country," Platt said.