LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) -- Of all the controversial things the legislature has taken up, the uproar over a bill about antique license plates surprised a freshman lawmaker.
State Rep. Jack Fortner arrived in the capitol last month after a career in car racing. He's an expert on NASCAR tires, but his idea to make the age for when cars can get antique plates got stuck in pit row.
“I have a passion as do a lot of others,” said Fortner, a Republican from Yellville and Marion County. “I found out that a lot of them have different passions than I do.”
Fortner even has his own radio show about cars and has been playing, racing, building or restoring automobiles since he was a little boy. As an expert, one thing could really grind his gears: antique plates on young cars.
“I think it should be 45 years and older,” he said.
Drivers can get an antique plate by bringing the state revenue office a title or proof that a car is at least 25 years old, so a car from the age of Grunge in the 1990s gets the same plate as a jitterbug jalopy from the 1940s. Antique experts like Kevin Tutton thinks it needs to better thought-out.
“I think whenever you go and fill out an application for it an pay seven dollars, you should have to put a little bit more information about what you're going to do with the car,” said Tutton, who has worked with his family’s auto restoration shop since his teens.
On the Tutton Ward lot in Little Rock, there’s a 1948 DeSoto sedan. It’s clearly an antique. They have a 1967 Bonneville. It is a definitive antique classic car, but also on the lot is a Honda compact from the late 1970s. It needs lots of work, but it gets an antique plate if it gets back on the road. There's also a 1983 BMW. Tutton has been working on it for months. When he’s done, did he restore an antique or just fix an old car? But after a surprisingly large number of constituents called to oppose Fortner’s bill to make an antique be at least 45 years old, he is considering a different route.
“I think probably we need to consider another kind of plate that honors another kind of car,” he said, pointing to plates that could represent “special interest” cars.
And Tutton thinks maybe we just need to acknowledge getting old.
“There is a certain age when something is considered antique or classic,” he said. “They play Pearl Jam and Nirvana on classic rock stations. I don’t think of them as classic rock, but I guess they are. But they still don’t play Ace of Base on classic rock stations, so we do make distinctions.”