Sticker No. Plate
by Jason Smith (S4s owner)
Due to the curved nature of the Esprit bumpers from 1993 onwards. The UK licence plate doesn't look particularly good on the front of the Esprit. Previous models with higher thicker bumpers actually have a recessed bit for the plate. So to make the front of my Esprit more pleasing, I looked into replacing the plastic plate with a reflective sticker, which would mould itself to the shape of the bumper.
I Took my plate to a local sign writers (The Sign Shop I think they are a franchise all over the place). We worked out that the best font for the letters is Helvetica at 60.81pt that way the plate looks right at 1000mm tall (I reduced it from 110mm to fit the curve of my bumper better.
The numbers were harder as I only have 96 in my reg and all the fonts he had were curvy 9s and 6s not the straight edged ones the DVLA like so we used Eurasia font which was a bit thin so it was given a border, then the 'inner' edge was deleted to make a solid character. I think they are a tiny bit to thin still so maybe another degree of outlining is needed?
I had the plate length as 475mm, again a bit smaller than standard but as I only have 6 characters it looks better. This was all done as black on white reflective which is about £30 per meter. So it ended up costing me £15, if you can find someone else who wants one it will be £15 for the pair as the reflective white is on a roll about 300mm wide you can get two plates out of a 500mm length.
Disclaimer: The following guide is for 'off-road/show' use. Used at your own risk on the public highway.
Installation time: 1 hours
You will need the following parts:
One made up sticky number plate
You will need the following tools:
These picture show the new Sticker next to the original number plate. The original is at the top. Note the difference in the numbers. You can see the 6 is a slightly different, but the other characters match almost perfectly (well at least not noticeable).
First remove the old number plate and the plinth that is attached to the underside of the bumper, then clean up the area with T-cut, then clean the area with the de-greaser.
The sticker should cover the holes used to previously mount the number plate.
To place the sticker on the car you have to have the intended area soaking with a washing up liquid and water mixture so when the sticker is applied you have a chance to move it around and line it up, so LOADS of the solution all over the front bumper and then remove the backing and apply the sticker to the wet bumper and line up, I measured it to the centre of the indicator screws on each side to ensure it was centrally placed and had the top edge just beginning to curve over the top corner of the bumper.
Now with your ice scraper/squeegee start in the middle, working outwards, and squeegee, all the water out from under the sticker, this may take some time and a cloth/towel may help to remove the excess water. Keep going and finish off with a cloth pressing hard, especially around the edges until it is fully stuck down.
I gave mine 24 hours to fully dry then a quick coat of polish over the whole bumper.
The first picture above shows 'before' with the old number plate and the next two show 'after' with the sticker. I apologise for the picture quality but a reflective white surface on a metallic blue background is VERY difficult to photograph!
I think the car looks fantastic without any number plate on the front, the giant air scoop looks much bigger without a number plate and plinth sticking down into it, the Americans are very lucky in not needing one! For us in the UK and Europe the next best thing is a stick on plate which of course doesn't obstruct any of the lines or the air hole.
I think this mod makes the whole front end of the car look much better and is a bargain in terms of time and cost, you even save a (tiny) bit of weight!!
UK Number Plate Law
[Text to Come]
UK number plate laws are quite specific and performing this modification DOES NOT COMPLY with current regulations which came into force during September 2001.
However the general opinion is that you should get away with it on the basis that the laws are not retrospectively applied and you can say 'Its always been like that officer'.
Several members of the Yahoo mail list have asked the opinion of some friendly members of Her Majesty's Constabulary and their opinion is that as long as the plate is clear and easy to read they don't care.
I have yet to MOT my car with it on, but believe that as it looks so close to the original a MOT tester would have to be both eagle-eyed and pretty pedantic to fail it, after all How many TVRs, Lotus 7s, Westfields, Jaguar E types, MX5s, etc have you seen with them?
This mod was performed by Jason Smith on his 1996 S4s
If you try this, feel free to e-mail me with your Verdict at firstname.lastname@example.org