"CASH" Vanity Plate Is Up for Grabs in California for $2 Million

A former lawyer registered the plate with his initials in 1970, and decades later it may be worth a whole heap of, well, cash.

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The rear view of a red Ford Mustang with the California license plate reading CASH
A Ford Mustang with the California license plate reading CASH
Photo: Plate Broker

For Silicone Valley lawyer Claude Arthur Stuart Hamrick, CASH isn’t just his initials; it’s a lifestyle. One he has proudly displayed on his cars via a vanity license plate since 1970. The CASH life can now be yours, provided you’ve got the dough.

The former patent lawyer from Silicone Valley is selling a vanity plate that reads “CASH” for $2 million after fifty years of ownership. The retired lawyer from the Bay Area, Claude Arthur Stuart Hamrick, first registered the personalized plate bearing his initials in California in 1970, and he’s dodged offers from dealers for over five decades, as the Mercury News reports.

Originally on Hamrick’s Buick Riviera, he wisely held on to it for each new vehicle. The CASH license plate was later worn by a succession of Cadillacs, according to the plate listing. Every time he switched vehicles, San Jose dealers would hound Hamrick for the flashy plate.


But he swore he’d never sell the plate, not even for “a million dollars.” But two million? Well, that’s more the “CASH” driver’s speed. The plate is currently listed on the Golden State’s budding custom plate market for that price. Claude “Cash” Hamrick enlisted the help of Micheal Modecki to sell the plate, as Modecki runs a personalized plate exchange called “the plate broker” that deals in rare and unique CA plates.

Image for article titled "CASH" Vanity Plate Is Up for Grabs in California for $2 Million
Photo: Plate Broker

Modecki compares the sale of lucrative plates to that of domain names during the dot com bubble. Hamrick may have just been after a plate with his initials, but he couldn’t have known that it would have eventually yielded an absurd amount of, well, cash. If it ever sells, at least, which it hasn’t so far.

Modecki argues that the market for these plates is at its tipping point in California, and that wealthy drivers there will soon come around to the notion that personalized plates that spell out “GO VIRAL,” “BETTING,” and “TOOTH” will be worth thousands, if not more. Why tooth? And what, no “ASSMAN?” That’s a missed opportunity if I ever saw one.


The Golden State is technically behind the sale of specialty plates, as the Mercury explains. Meaning that the $2 million sale is fully above-board:

The lack of interest so far has not discouraged him. It will take time, he said, for the wealthy to realize they can throw vast sums of money at license plates alongside their Ferraris and yachts. “It’s like buying domain names back in 1996. … Do you think the guy that bought fb.com knew that Facebook would have been a thing in 15 years?”

A license plate market — which allows owners to sell the rights to cherished plates or horde plates in a speculative gamble — takes advantage of the California DMV’s fine print. The DMV’s REG 17 form allows vanity plate owners to “release interest to new owner” of their plate configuration. That clause opens the door for trading these plates on a second-hand market, said Modecki.


Modecki goes on to cite an auctioneer from the United Arab Emirates who says such plates are linked with a person’s identity, which is why they are so expensive. I’m not sure I agree; I like to think I’m not as high-maintenance as the random string of characters on my old BMW’s license plate implies, but it’s possible the Texas DMV knows me better than I know myself.

Modecki might have a good bead on that, since his custom plate store sells plates from both California and Texas. The multi-million asking price for the “CASH” plate might even be a bargain for billionaires and moguls with nothing better to buy than six-figure stamped sheets of aluminum: Modecki is also selling a CA plate that reads “MM” for a whopping $24 million.


I suppose if you like hard-shelled chocolates that much, have at it. The Mercury News says Modecki hasn’t received any major offers for the MM. And Claude Hamrick’s “CASH” plate is, likewise, still currently for sale.