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Page last updated at 10:26 GMT, Sunday, 17 July 2005 11:26 UK

US state shelves smiley car plate

Image of Kentucky licence plate
The smiley face made Kentucky-dwellers wince

The US state of Kentucky is set to withdraw the design of the state's smiling sunshine face from its licence plates because it is so unpopular.

Perched beneath the line "It's that friendly" on the plates, the smiling sun has met ridicule and scorn.

Drivers have been drawing moustaches on the face, or transforming the smile into a scowl in protest.

The new design features an outline of the state of Kentucky in the centre and the words "Unbridled spirit".

"A lot of people found them so obnoxious they wouldn't put them on their cars," county official Don Blevins told the Associated Press.

"It's silly. It's sappy. It doesn't say 'Kentucky,'" said Billy Reed, a spokesman for the firm which helped design the new state brand.

But the intense reaction to the car identification plates has only boosted their popularity among enthusiasts.

In 2003, it won an award given by the Automobile licence plate collectors association for the best design.

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