Cult Plates

 In OBX Community

What will it be this time… the bypass or the beach road? There are not many routes to pick from. And, there are only so many trips you can take up and down the beach before you calculate that you’ve read the same surf shop sign twelve times in two days.

Welcome to a new favorite pastime for off-season driving: license plate reading. 

obxluv1It’s different in the winter. When you distill the automobiles down to locally driven cars, what is left is an overwhelming number of OBX plates.

“Cult plates,” that is. 

That’s the name given to the ubiquitous tags by Dylan Morgan who moved to the OBX from Washington state a little over a year ago. 

“When I first moved here, I was kind of filled in because my mom already had them. Before you know it, a lot of my friends ended up having them. It’s just a trendy thing. It’s goofy.” 

Friends here try to convince him that showing his status as a local will mean that he gets treated differently.  The jury is out on whether OBX plate-bearers get treated differently, and no law enforcement personnel would be quoted on this matter.


Dylan Morgan

He just rolls his eyes and laughs, “back in Chicago (where he grew up), you don’t see ‘Chi Town’ on all their plates.”

When asked about the local attachment to the license tags, Morgan guesses, “They’re trying to get you into it. I’ve even had people say I need a 252 [phone] number.” (His Washington number is a confusing 253 area code to OBX residents.) 

Morgan just laughs, “But I’m going to be contradictory. I’ll stick with my regular ol’ N.C. plates and let people think I’m from Charlotte or something.”

Speaking of personal freedoms, North Carolina is one of the 19 states that do not require any plate or identification on the front bumper. So, if you find yourself on the front end of a car on the Outer Banks – hopefully not as a pedestrian crossing the bypass – you’ll notice a lot of folks have kept their old front bumper city tags that show their town pride.

OBX plates are so easy to spot here, you may have to up the ante and come up with a challenge version of plate spotting: see how many OBX plates you can find that skirt using O-B-X lettering. 

(Here’s looking at you, BCH LVR, SUN TAN, SEE GULL and KDH@LAST!)

The graduate-level reading list means finding OBX tags from different states. It’s tougher in the winter, but you’ll be amazed how many Pennsylvania, Virginia, Ohio, and Oregon drivers have shown their loyalty to our sandbar at their departments of motor vehicles. obx plates

Oregon? Really? 
Yes. Really.  And if you move to Oregon, don’t try to get the simple “OBX” plate. That is already taken. 
There. Now you can go back to reading surf shop signs.

CU N16. ♦


Susan Selig Classen
Author: Susan Selig Classen

Susan Selig Classen has been living, writing, and editing on the Outer Banks for over ten years. Her other published work includes articles in AOPA Pilot, Convention South, and Brain Child magazines. Susan was formerly the editor for Three Dog Ink Media.

  • Chris Birdsong

    I prefer OBX OMG

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