How to Install an Automatic License Plate Retractor

What’s the ugliest part of your car’s body? Ask our friends at Carolina Custom in Clinton, North Carolina, and they will say it is your car’s license plate—and they have a cure for it. It’s called a Carolina Custom license plate retractor. Depending on how it’s wired it can be used to conceal the license plate when parked, or go James Bond style with the flip of a switch and hide the plate while the car is in motion.

In the case of our hot rodder buddy Kent Adams and his flathead V-8–powered Model A, he wanted his modern California license plate to disappear automatically when he shut the engine off. Start the engine up and the license plate returns to full view.

The installation of Carolina Custom’s billet aluminum–bodied license plate retractor can be as simple as Adams’ original installation that only involved cutting and drilling a piece of flat stock steel and then wiring up the Carolina Custom license plate retractor.

There are before and after photos. After Adams’ initial installation, he decided he wanted the license plate retractor completely out of sight and cut and welded the original flat strap, added a couple of gussets, and tucked the Carolina Custom license plate retractor clean out of sight.

It is an easy install anyone with basic tools and half an idea about how to fabricate and wire can do. It took Adams about two hours of time in his driveway (not counting searching for tools) to install the license plate retractor.

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