When I was in high school back in the early 1970s (yes, I know, I know, ancient times) there were cars we would love to have!

No, I'm not talking about the new ones, those were definitely out of reach. No way Pa was gonna help spring for one of those. Heck, he'd never had a new car, so I certainly wasn't going to get one.

One of the cars us kids loved then was a '57 Chevy. Even then the car had become something of a classic. Why? I'm not sure what makes a classic. Heck, if automakers knew, wouldn't they turn one out every year?

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But '57 was a classic year for Chevy. And that was the one we wanted, back then in 'the old days' and even today. Yep, if you see a '57 Chevy rollin' down the road, you look twice (or maybe three times). There's just something about it.

Maybe this commercial gives a clue. It's from the fall of 1956 and the new cars were being rolled out. By the way, remember when the new year's vehicles would all come out on the same fall weekend? Anyway, as the commercial says, the '57 was sweet, smooth, and sassy. And has become an American classic.

What Did South Dakota's License Plate Look Like the Year You Were Born?

The first number on a South Dakota license plate is the county that the car is registered. For example, Pennington county where Rapid City is has a '2' starting its plates. In Sioux Falls you have either a '1' or a '44' depending on your relationship to 57th street.

When established in 1956 (and revised in 1987) the first nine counties were ordered by population. Starting with 10 they are in alphabetical order through Ziebach, with Oglala Lakota County (65) and Todd (67) rounding out the list.

Today the top 10 plate numbers and populations don't correlate anymore. 1 and 2 are still 1 and 2, but Lincoln (44) is now 3rd in population. Beadle is 4 but it's now 11th in population. See the list by population here.

On January 1, 2023, South Dakota started issuing a new license plate design for license plates.

So, let's take a look back at what South Dakota license plates looked like over the last 100 years.


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