People who shell out on vanity plates typically think they're being cute, funny, or clever. But in reality, most custom license plates just come across as annoying—not to mention a complete waste of money. Sure, it's cute if an old lady has a plate that says "FUN GMA" but in general, most vanity plates fall well short of their owner's intentions.
Some people send in their car registration with an entire list of options for vanity plates because motor vehicle departments across the country vet each and every request to make sure that the words don't come across as vulgar, offensive, or mean. But DMV employees are DMV employees and sometimes, some pretty ridiculous vanity plates slip through the cracks.
On the rarest of occasions, a personalized plate can be a good idea. But the vast majority are just awful. Keep scrolling for 20 tasteless plates that just make us laugh at their tasteless owners.
20 Not Smart
No one buys a Smart car for its style and class (or lack thereof). The petite vehicle represents a solid option for owners who live in cities with tight streets and bad traffic, though. New York City fits the bill, though then getting a license plate that reads "CLOWNKAR" just highlights that no one should be driving in NYC, ever.
19 In It To Win It
The fact that this license plate got by the censors at the Maryland Vehicle Administration doesn't say much about their attention to detail. Sure, it might be funny to those who speak Spanish, but explaining the meaning to little kids is going to be a tough task for parents who want to keep things rated PG.
18 I Musk Ask You A Question
Elon Musk's hardheaded leadership has borne Tesla through many ups and downs over the past decade, though it remains to be seen if the brand can survive the atrocious reliability problems they've encountered with their cars. This license plate easily comes across as sarcastic, though perhaps the owner truly loves their Tesla.
17 A Little Add-On
There's no way the censors at any DMV could know that this license plate would be mounted on a Mini Cooper next to a suggestive sticker. However, given the famous Dr. Dre song, there could easily have been good reason to veto this particular combination of letters. Regardless, the result is the opposite of family-friendly.
16 Show Off
Based on the cars in the foreground of this picture, as well as the house in the background, the owner of this Rolls-Royce is absurdly wealthy. But there's absolutely no reason to buy a vanity plate that reads "LUCKYME" for a Rolls-Royce; everyone already knows that anybody driving or riding in a Rolls is lucky.
15 Oh, Sure
This Canadian license plate could easily be interpreted as a reference to an offensive quote that's made its way around the internet over the last few years, though it could also be a reference to kidnapping, which isn't much better. The car's owner knows the phrase is offensive, too, but they clearly don't care all that much based on the tiny lettering to the left of the plate.
14 Maverick's Gingivitis
This license plate is just baffling. Why would anyone get "TOP GUM" on a plate and broadcast it to the world? This could be a pun or inside joke about the famous Tom Cruise movie Top Gun, or it could be an Audi driven by a dentist who constantly has to preach to his patients about the dangers of gingivitis.
13 What Do You See?
What you think when you read this license plate says a lot about the state of the world today. Do you see a mom describing herself as the nicest? Or do you see something much darker? The latter option probably wasn't the intention of this Pennsylvania resident, though the censors probably should have stopped this one either way.
12 Punishing The World
There's no excuse that the public workers in the state of New Mexico can provide that would excuse allowing a license plate like this to hit the road. Still, it's kind of amazing to see that this Jeep owner got away with their little prank on the rest of the world. Was this their first attempt, or did more offensive options get the kibosh beforehand?
11 Forget It
The hilarious part about this license plate is that it's so clean compared to the car it's mounted upon. Clearly, the plate came after the damage, which is patently absurd because the car's owner spent money getting a vanity plate rather than getting their car fixed. Then again, spending money to fix up a Saturn is just about equally as pointless as a custom license plate.
10 Genuinely Unconcerned
This is yet another instance where someone got away with exactly the kind of vanity plate that shouldn't be allowed. Countless stories of tofu lovers who can't get their license plates approved stand in direct contrast to this North Carolina plate. Perhaps, in this case, the worker who was supposed to block the request felt similarly.
9 Are You Sure?
An old saying advises polite dinner guests to never bring up politics or religion. This guy, however, clearly wants to antagonize the world with his vanity plate. The fact that he got a "NO GODS" license plate in the midwest is bold, to say the least, and insurance companies may want to consider the fact that it reduces his life expectancy.
8 Fast Like A Nascar
In the automotive arena, having a "FASTGRL" label might seem appropriate, especially when mounted on a vintage Corvette (that's possibly a replica). But back in High School, no one wanted to be known as the "Fast Girl" who got around town faster than a vintage Corvette (that's possibly a replica).
7 Or Not?
Confidence is key when it comes to dating, though this Pontiac owner's level of self-assurance may come off as a little over the top. Not only do "DATE ME" and "SUPER STUD" seem excessive on their own, together they suggest that somebody has their priorities all messed up—especially when mounted on a beat-up old Pontiac.
6 Drop Out
In the tech world, dropping out of college has become a point of pride. Bill Gates did it, Mark Zuckerberg did it, and so did Elizabeth Holmes. This Ferrari owner seems proud of the fact that they did not excel in school and yet still managed to get their hands on an awesome sports car later in life.
5 007 In Traffic
When Pierce Brosnan drove a BMZ Z3 in Goldeneye, Bond fans all over the world groaned in agony. But when Aston Martin came back into the picture with the awesome Vanquish in Die Another Day, it all seemed worth it. Dubbed the "Vanish" because it could turn invisible, the sports coupe was perfection on-screen. Off-screen, though, this owner seems pretty lame while stuck in traffic.
4 What Kind Of Car Is That?
Hopefully, the owner of this BMW has friends who are funny (and annoying) enough to constantly ask, "What kind of car is that?" This is truly the only appropriate response to someone who gets a "GOTABMW" vanity plate on their BMW. Yes, the logo is directly above the license plate. And yes, everyone knows it's a BMW.
3 Buzz The Tower
Audi's R8 made the perfect on-screen companion to Robert Downey Jr's Tony Stark in Iron Man. In real life, though, an R8 is a car that only the likes of RDJ or Stark could actually afford. Good luck to this Utah owner as they try to fly by other drivers while on the way to spend huge sums on maintenance, like around $17,000 for four new shocks and a coolant expansion tank (true story).
2 Not Bad
Cadillac's crisis of identity has been shocking over the past decade or so. It's almost like the executives can't decide whether to build radical supercharged sports cars or luxury minivans. Some pros have been the wicked CTS V sedans and station wagons, though there's still no need to get a vanity plate like the one pictured above.
1 That Annoying Couple
Everyone knows an annoying couple who always looks perfect, takes unlimited selfies at dinner, and finishes each other's sentences constantly. But even the worst of the worst annoying couples would give some side-eye to these two SUVS and their purely obnoxious vanity plates. Are you guys really that happy with your ugly FJ Cruiser and underpowered Mazda? Or are you overcompensating?
Sources: Jalopnik, Wikipedia, and The New York Times.