But for now, I'd like to share something about Steve Jobs that you might not know. It's about his car. Since automotive marketing is what we do here at Polk, I thought it was a relevant tidbit to share. Mr. Jobs drove a silver 2007 Mercedes-Benz SL55 AMG without a license plate.
Why? Nobody knows for sure, and multiple theories have been bandied about in Silicon Valley. Some think it's a high-tech vehicle code distortion field or custom-built mechanized plate retractor. Others insist that overzealous fans swipe the roadster's tags every time they're mounted. I even saw one blogger opine it was because the font on California license plates is so ugly. His theory is that Mr. jobs couldn't stand to mar the aesthetics of a beautiful vehicle with the product of some state assemblyman's sense of style. Maybe it's simply because he could get away with it.
And that brings us to the other aspect to this mystery. How exactly did Steve Jobs drive a plateless car for four years without ever getting ticketed for the infraction? A search of traffic records confirms that he successfully avoided plate-related fines. Again, theories abound, but I think it's just a matter of playing the odds.
The one piece of data that is available about Mr. Jobs' AMG (as on all vehicles) is the VIN. Using this, one ambitious blogger ran a Carfax report to assuage his curiosity. [Full disclosure: Carfax is owned by R. L. Polk & Co.] Here's what he learned:
- The vehicle was purchased new (no surprise) in 2006.
- It had approximately 21,800 miles on the odometer as of August, 2011.
All of this still doesn't answer the most puzzling question of WHY Steve Jobs chose to drive plateless. Less imaginative types like me, chalk it up to a desire for privacy. But in a state where SL55s are a fairly common sight, and no personal information can be gleaned from a license plate number, the best way to remain anonymous would be to keep the plates on.
And this, in the end, is the great paradox of the mystery. Not displaying plates made Steve Jobs' car just as conspicuous and identifiable as a man who, say, always wore jeans, a black turtleneck and New Balance sneakers.
Posted by Paula Skier, Director, Strategy & Planning, Digital Marketing, Polk (10.07.2011)