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Steve Jobs drove a Mercedes without license plates

October 10, 2011 |  8:58 am

Steve Jobs Mercedes-Benz
For years, Apple co-founder Steve Jobs drove around Silicon Valley in a a silver 2007 Mercedes-Benz SL55 AMG without a license plate.

Paula Skier, the digital marketing executive at automotive data and consulting firm R.L. Polk & Co., reports that Jobs, who passed away last week,  got away with a clear violation of California state law -- we suspect for security reasons.  Can you imagine how many people would have liked to have swiped the tech guru’s license plate?

Skier wanted to know how Jobs could drive a plateless car for four years without ever getting ticketed for the infraction.

Full coverage:  The death of Steve Jobs

“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,” Skier said.

Skier noted that “one blogger” obtained the vehicle identification number of Jobs’ Mercedes and ran it through Polk’s  Carfax vehicle history division to see what it could learn about the car. Not much, it turns out.  It was purchased in 2006 and had about 21,800 miles on the odometer as of August.
 
“That means Steve Jobs drove only 5,500 miles per year, well under the 12,000-mile U.S. average. Why is this important? Because it means that Mr. Jobs did not drive his car very much, which significantly lowered his odds of getting ticketed,” Skier  said.

It’s also not clear that he would have needed much privacy, because there are many similar expensive SL55s in California, Skier said.

“No personal information can be gleaned from a license-plate number,” she said. “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.”

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-- Jerry Hirsch
twitter.com/LATimesJerry

Photo: Steve Jobs' Mercedes-Benz. Credit: R.L. Polk & Co.

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