Category Archives: Insights

Monthly Photo Contest

What:’s, (CEP), The Monthly Photo Contest begins on the 1st of the month, and ends on the last day of the month, at 12:00 PM Pacific Standard Time. By submitting an entry, each contestant agrees to the rules of the contest and states that he or she is 18 years old or older.

Who may enter:

Anyone above 18 years of age.

What to enter:

Engaging photos with a European Plate in the photo, a car is not required. Original ideas, unique design, & a creative presentation are desirable.

How to enter:

Tweet or Instagram your photos to #CustomEuroplatesGallery. Or send your photos to

We do not accept photographs submitted through the US mail and do not accept more than one contestant per e-mail address. High-quality scans of non-digital photographs are acceptable. Digital photographs should be taken at the highest resolution possible.

CEP may collect a photograph’s metadata upon entry.

You retain your rights to your photograph; however, by entering the contest, you grant CEP a royalty-free, world-wide, perpetual, non-exclusive license to publicly display, distribute, reproduce and create derivative works of the entries, in whole or in part, in any media now existing or later developed, for any purpose, including, but not limited to, advertising and promotion of the magazine and its website, exhibition, and commercial products, including but not limited to CEP publications. Any photograph reproduced will include a photographer credit as feasible. CEP will not be required to pay any additional consideration or seek any additional approval in connection with such uses.

Entry deadline:

The contest begins on the 1st of the month. All entries must be received by 12:00 PM Pacific Standard Time on the last day of the month, 10/31/17


Photo entries will be judged on creativity, quality, & originality. Photos with a European Plate in it are prefered but not required. Photos will be judged by the CEP team on the 1st of November month with the winner being announced by the end of the first week of the month.

CEP will notify the winner via the contact information provided at the time of entry or through their social media channel; CEP may disqualify anyone who fails to respond to the notification within five business days.

Please do not contact us about the status of entries or judging.

Prizes: $50 credit to

One prize per person; winners may receive additional noncash prizes. Winners will be responsible for paying any notary public fees or taxes they may owe on a prize.

Online Features:  CEP may select photos for highlight on its website or display in a publicly accessible contest archive; such selections will be made in the CEPs sole discretion.

Conditions of Entry

For a photo in which a person is recognizable, you must secure a model release from the subject or, in the case of a minor, the subject’s parent or guardian and provide it to CEP upon request.

Similarly, entrants whose photos depict other people’s work (such as sculptures, statues, paintings, and other copyrightable works) may need to obtain a release from the rights holder and provide it to CEP upon request. When photographing the work of others, it must be as an object in its environment and not a full-frame close-up of another person’s creation.

Photos that violate or infringe upon another person’s rights, including but not limited to copyright, are not eligible.

Photos that contain sexually explicit, nude, obscene, violent or other objectionable or inappropriate content, as determined by CEP in its sole discretion, are ineligible for this contest.

All entrants hold the Sponsors and their respective regents, directors, officers, employees, emeriti, fellows, interns, research associates, and volunteers (the “Indemnified Parties”) harmless from and against all claims of any nature arising in connection with entrant’s participation in the contest and acceptance or use of a prize. The Indemnified Parties are not liable for any costs, damages, injuries, or other claims incurred as a result of entrants’ participation in the contest or winner’s acceptance and usage of a prize.  The Indemnified Parties are not responsible for incomplete or misdirected entries, technical or network malfunctions or failures, or causes beyond their control. Entrants are solely responsible for their entries. Entrants may not submit materials that introduce any software viruses, worms or other programs designed to damage software, hardware or telecommunications equipment or are off-topic, partisan-political, contain advertising, nudity, personal attacks or expletives, or is otherwise abusive, threatening, unlawful, harassing, discriminatory, libelous, obscene, false, sexually explicit, or that infringes on the rights of any third party.

The contest is void where prohibited or restricted by law. CEP reserves the right to cancel the contest or modify these rules at its discretion. In the event of a dispute regarding the winners, the CEP reserves the right to award or not award the prizes in its sole discretion. The CEP reserves the right to disqualify any entrant whose entry or conduct appears in any way to: inhibit the enjoyment of others; tamper with the competition; violate these rules or other applicable law or regulation; infringe on the rights of third parties; or act in an unsportsmanlike or disruptive manner. Decisions of the CEP are final and binding.

10 Tips to Make That Old Car Feel New-ish

Most of us grow tired of our used cars long before they’re used-up cars. But money is tight for just about everyone, so why throw away a car that’s running well just because it’s feeling worn down?

Here are 10 tips recommended by

1. Keep it Clean

Not the sexiest first tip but it’s important. Get in there and clean her out. Shampoo, vacuum, & repeat. Get into all the tight spaces and scrub the dirt and grime out of the seats, upolstry, trunk, engine, wheels, everywhere.

This is a pretty obvious first step. But the cleaning pays off because all that time spent tidying up the car is also time spent inspecting it. This is your chance to uncover hidden problems.

2. Keep the Cockpit Clean

“Focus on the area you’re actually going to touch,” Atlanta-area used car dealer Steven Lang says. “Start at the steering wheel and the dashboard. If the wheel is pitted or deteriorated, a simple $10 cover can make a big difference to how a car feels. A dashboard cover may be a good investment too.”

Also check dashboard illumination. There are drivers out there who can’t read their speedometers at night simply because the illumination knob has been dimmed for years through sheer inattention. If the knobs and switches are actually busted or worn-out, though, they can often be cheaply replaced with either new parts or recycled pieces found at a junkyard.

If the dashboard pad is faded, consider repainting or dyeing it. You’re going to spend a lot of time staring at it.

And don’t forget the fabric. One of Lang’s favorite tricks for reinvigorating a car is to swap out the front seats for a pair he finds at a junkyard with fewer miles on them. “Seat foam breaks up over time,” he says. “For $100 or $150, a set from a low-mileage vehicle can make a car seem new.”

3. Electronics

Even if your car is only a couple of years old, it’s almost certainly got an outdated sound system. Trading an old radio head unit for one that integrates with an iPod, iPhone or satellite radio, and includes a Bluetooth connection for a cellphone, will shoot your car or truck into the present.

Head units with iPod integration start at under $80 on Throw in installation costs and you’ve still spent less than $200 to seriously upgrade your commute entertainment.

Electronic GPS navigation systems have also become affordable over the last few years. Good systems run about $150 and offer all the functionality of OEM systems that are often more than a $1000.

4. Let it Breathe

Aftermarket intake systems and air filters don’t work miracles, but they can open up an older engine’s inhalation system and kick up output a by few horsepower. Cold air intake systems from companies like K & N ( are available for nearly every vehicle, and installation can usually be accomplished with little more than a screwdriver. Many are under $200.

5. Clean the lenses

Vehicles built during the last couple of decades usually have plastic composite headlamps that weather and dull over time. You can pick up a headlight restoration often for under $30, and they’re easy to use. It only takes a few minutes to turn a dull, yellowed headlight clear—which makes your old car look nicer and instantly improves illumination.

6. Fix the AC

Like your home air conditioner, your car’s AC can suffer buildups of mold, mildew and bacteria. To clean out the system, first make sure the air coming into the system isn’t first passing through leaves, dust or other accumulated grime in the air passageways. Then change or clean any filters in the system. Finally, use an air-conditioning deodorizer to finish things off. If nothing else, your nose should be happier.

7. Rubberize

Your car doors seal against rubber trim that is vulnerable to tears as it ages. These tears can lead to air gaps that howl in the wind while you drive, let heat escape when it’s cold outside, allow cold air to escape when its hot outside, and invite water in when it rains. Replacing these rubber strips takes patience, time and a talent for adhesives, but the strips themselves are usually inexpensive, and installing fresh ones can make your car quieter instantly. Don’t replace the seals if they’re still in good shape, but don’t hesitate if they’re brittle or ragged.

While you’re at it, don’t forget to replace your rubber windshield wiper blades. It’s a cheap way to survive the rainy season.

8. Paint

The use and abuse of touchup paint is a subject that could fill volumes. Generally speaking, it’s best to use it sparingly and carefully.

However, you can easily remove plastic trim pieces on your car’s exterior and repaint them with a spray can. It particularly makes a big difference on black parts that have weathered to a dull gray.

9. Brake & Suspension

“Shocks, springs, dampers, struts, brake rotors and pads may seem like normal service items,” says Matt Edmonds, marketing director for The Tire Rack. “But replacing them can make a huge difference in how a car drives.”

If you go nuts and buy everything—stabilizer bars, urethane bushings, racing shocks and more—it’s possible to make even a 1981 Cadillac Seville handle something like a race car and ride as stiffly as one too. But you don’t have to go to extremes to make your vehicle handle more precisely.

New shock absorbers make a big difference on their own, but while they’re off the car, you might consider rebuilding the suspension and steering system with new ball joints and tie rod ends. If you’re an enthusiast, new springs can lower your car for better handling and give a more aggressive look. Just stay within your budget and mechanical abilities.

The same goes for brakes. Worn discs and pads seriously degrade performance, so replace them.

10. Wheels & Tires

Getting better performance from your tires can be as simple as making sure they’re properly inflated. But when tires need to be replaced, that presents an opportunity to both improve the performance and appearance of your car.

Remember: Everything your car does, it does through the tires. And so good tires enable your car to do everything better. It used to be that moving up to wider tires or larger diameter wheels was difficult, because it was difficult to determine the correct wheel back spacing or how much rubber could fit under your car’s fenders. But today sites like The Tire Rack can provide dozens of wheel and tire combinations tailored to your vehicle.

New, bigger tires are the single most impressive way to change a car’s performance and appearance. Of course, a new set of wheels and tires won’t be inexpensive. But it’s still cheaper than getting a new car.


10 Ways to Use Your American European License Plates

Fourth of July is coming up and we thought we should share our 10 favorite ways to use your American European License Plate this holiday weekend.

  1. Use it to decorate your car or office for the most American holiday.

2. Use it to shield yourself from the sun when you’re at a party.

3. Use it as a fan to beat the heat.

4. Wave it as you watch fireworks to show your patriotism and block everyone else’s view.

5. Use it to serve beer and burgers to guests at your party.

6. Use it as a bat in America’s favorite pastime, baseball.

7. Reenact Washington Crossing the Delaware, but put cool American style European plates on the boat.

8. Use 2 American style European plates as water skis and be the most patriotic skier out there.

9. Use it as a passport to get back into good ol’ America.

10. Wear it as a championship belt buckle to show off that America won the Revolutionary War.

BimmerFest 2017 is FAST Approaching!

We will be making plates ON SITE! Come out, say hi, and get a custom plate. Come early, as we will get VERY busy.

Date / Time: June 3rd, 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM AND June 4th, 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM

Entry Fee: Bimmerfest 2017 California is $30 per car for exhibition parking in the infield, $20 per car for general admission parking in the outer lots. All passengers are free so bring your family and friends. Check it out

With BimmerFest around the corner we thought we’d share one of our favorite articles from from a couple years ago. You can find the original post here.

Top 5 Fastest BMWs of All Time

While there is much talk about BMW becoming soft and not making the kind of performance car that its customers are used to, it’s fair to say that this talk is a bit ill-founded. Sure BMWs may not be the scalpel sharp tools they once were, but there’s no denying that current BMWs are the highest performing of all time. To prove that, we’ll look at the top five fastest BMWs of all time.

One thing you’ll notice about this list is that all of these BMWs are of the modern era. While this is obvious, as engines get more powerful and efficient every year, it’s safe to say that this metric alone proves that BMW still cares very much about performance. So let’s take a look.

5. X5 M/X6 M

These mammoth super SUVs both pack a 4.4 liter twin-turbocharged V8 under hood. Mated to an eight-speed ZF automatic and powering all four wheels, the X5 and X6 M are able to achieve 0-60 mph in 4.0 seconds. That’s an incredible feat of engineering, to get these two elephants to dance so well. Top speed is electronically limited to 155, but we suspect it would be a lot higher than that, without the limiter. Either way, these two SUVs are scary quick.

4. BMW i8

Who said hybrids have to be slow and boring. The BMW i8’s combination of a 1.5 liter three-cylinder engine paired to two electric motors, one in the rear aiding the engine drive the rear wheels and one in the front driving the front wheels, might not sound like much but it packs more than enough punch. The i8’s lightweight frame allows its hybrid setup to get from 0-60 in 3.9 seconds. That’s Porsche 911 Carrera S fast and it also gets superb fuel economy. It’s top speed is also limited to 155, but I’m not sure how much faster it would go, given its small engine.

3. BMW M6 Gran Coupe Competition Package

The M6 Gran Coupe was already one of BMWs fastest cars. But BMW decided to give it a competition package which bumps power from 560 hp to 600. This power bump, along with a slight weight decrease and some suspension stiffening, allows the M6 Gran Coupe CP to nail 60 mph in 3.8 seconds. That’s blistering for a massively luxurious four-seater. Though it has more power, BMW didn’t raise the electronic limiter of 155 mph. We suspect it can do much more, given the 600 hp and slippery aerodynamic design.

2. BMW M4

The M4 is one of BMW’s fastest cars. This is as it should be. The M3/M4 should always be BMW’s best performing cars. The M4’s 3.0 liter twin-turbocharged I6 engine produces 420 hp and, when mated to BMW’s DCT gearbox, can get from 0-60 mph in 3.7 seconds, according to Car and Driver, and limited 155 mph top speed.. That’s mighty quick for a car starting at $64,200. The M4 is not only one of BMW’s fastest cars, it’s one of the fastest sports cars on the road.

1. BMW M5 30th Anniversary Edition

The 30th Anniversary Jahre Edition M5 is a special car. Packing 600 hp from its 4.4 liter twin-turbocharged V8, the BMW M5 Jahre can do 0-60 in 3.7 seconds. Now, while this is the same as the lighter and smaller M4, the Jahre is still the fastest BMW ever made. And that has to do with top speed. The Jahre M5 has a “limited” top speed of 199 mph. While the M4 is limited to 155 mph and can probably far exceed that, it most likely can’t touch the Jahre’s 199 mph limit. Plus the Jahre would almost definitely break 200 mph if it was unrestricted. This makes the massively powerful 30th Anniversary Jahre Edition M5 the fastest BMW of all time.

Top 10 Reasons to love Friday!

Friday can be the best day of the week, but why? We kicked around our thoughts on why Friday is the best day of the week. Here are our top 10.

10 – It’s not Tuesday

9 – Happy Hour

8 – Casual Friday

7 – Friday is the end of one thing, and the beginning of something else.

6 – It is the best day to start a road trip.

5 – It is the one day of the week, that everyone looks forward to.

4 – Friday is the best day to play hooky from work and/or school.  Just don’t get caught.

3 – It is the first day of the week you can party late into the night and not worry about getting up early the next day.  Saturday being the second best day for such wild abandon.

2 – On Friday, you know someone, somewhere is having a happy hour and you’re invited.

1 – Friday rocks most, because it kicks off the weekend, Saturday and Sunday following. Our time to play, explore, rest, rejuvenate!

5 Ways to Write off Your Car Expenses

Cars are one of the most expensive items to own, both in terms of the initial investment we make in them and in the cost of ongoing maintenance.

Fortunately, there are valid ways to offset these expenses with tax deductions. You might qualify for one or more of these options for personal, small business, self-employed or business deductions. (If you’re not taking advantage of these deductions, you could be missing out on tax savings, start planning for next year!)

1. Charitable Contributions
If your old car isn’t going to make it much longer, and the cost of repair isn’t worth the investment, consider donating it to charity rather than trying to make a little money selling it used. You’ll save the hassle of putting up an ad and dealing with potential buyers who want to talk you down from your price. And if you know your car isn’t worth a whole lot, you may be better off donating it, which will give you a deduction for the market value the car still has. Many charitable organizations will even pick up your donated car for you. This method of tax deduction can apply to personal or business application, just make sure you get an official receipt from the charity, which should include the value of the vehicle you donated.

2. Convert Your Car
Keeping your current car but wanting to reduce emissions? Look into a electric drive conversion kit, which you can hire a professional mechanic to install onto your car. Before you purchase the kit, get a mechanic’s opinion on whether your car is worth converting; in some cases, such as on older cars that don’t have much life left in them, the cost of conversion may be an investment not worth making. But if you have a newer car with a lot of life left in it, converting can save you on fuel daily as well as giving you a nice tax credit, up to $4,000.

3. Deduct Business Use
If you are a freelancer and otherwise self-employed individual, you can deduct the cost of business use, even if it’s on your personal vehicle. This is the best method for those who work under a sole proprietorship rather than as a legal business structure such as a corporation. The key here is to separate business use from personal use, which can be done by using some sort of tracking mechanism like CarCheckup, a small device which plugs into your car for business trips and then uploads mileage information and other data to your computer when you plug it in via USB.

4. Small Business Fleet Deductions
If you’re running a small business, a vehicle used exclusively for business can add to your yearly tax deductions as part of your operating expenses. While the cost of overhauling a business vehicle doesn’t qualify as a deduction the cost of repair can be deducted. Keep clear records of repairs, because just claiming an estimated cost won’t go over well with the IRS.

5. Unreimbursed Business Expenses
If you’re employed by a company and have used your own personal vehicle for business-related purposes, you can claim those expenses on your tax deduction if your company has not reimbursed you. These expenses could include fuel costs and maintenance, and are usually best calculated by using a per-mile cost, which the IRS updates on a regular basis. As with self-employed tax deductions, the key is to keep clear records and differentiate between business use and personal use.

The Bottom Line
Unless you’re using your car exclusively for your business, you can’t deduct the full cost of purchasing, maintaining and repairing it. You can and should, however, deduct what you can. The key, as with almost any issue to do with the IRS, is having clear records to support your claims.