Thursday, June 7, 2012

The Automotive Appendix...

Heh. Got a chuckle out of this article:

Awesome or Atrocious? 4 Bizarre Car Accessories that Used to Be Cool

The four items in question are of varying relevance - some, like the pop-up headlights, were nearly ubiquitous in the sports car genre for many years, while others - the third headlight - are very specific. The other two items are in-dash record players (and you thought early CD players skipped a lot!) and hidden gas filler caps - not as rare as the third headlight but not as common as the pop-up headlights.

I've owned one car with one of these features - my 1983 Cadillac had the gas filler behind the license plate, which had a hinge on the bottom allowing it to fold down for filling. My mom had a Buick Regal in the 1970s that also had the gas filler in this location, so I associate it mostly with the land barges of the 1970s. I've never seen a record player in a car, but I do remember in-dash 8-track players (and their cassette adapters for the early 1980s!). Pop-up headlights, pretty much everyone remembers - they were on Corvettes as late as 2004, so just about everyone gets something on this list...

What other bizarre accessories can you think of?

That is all.

28 comments:

geeknotes said...

Hood ornaments have gone by the wayside. I remember learning to place my mom's '84 Chevy Impala within the lane properly by where the hood ornament was in my vision!

Mopar said...

Back in the late 50's some of the Mopars had front seats that would swivel toward the door to make it easier to get in and out of the car.

John Anderson said...

The suicide knob. Not exactly specific to any particular car, but a crazy accessory regardless.

Armed Texan said...

Hmm, I had three different GM vehicles with the "hidden gas filler caps," but I never thought of them as being hidden. Rather I saw it as a practical engineering feature that allowed me to park with the pump on either side of the vehicle and easily reach the fuel port. On the other hand, the spring loaded license plate frames could be a little annoying.

daniels said...

Curb feelers.

Oh yeah...

Ratus said...

The "traffic light viewer"

https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/Lz7v

Weer'd Beard said...

Yeah those flip-up headlights looked REALLY cool until one of the motors fried and you were left with one light up and one down. Then you looked like a tool.

Dave H said...

When I was a kid we used to joke about something being as useful as a rear window wiper. Now I use mine every morning.

About the time they started mandating the elevated third tail light on cars, Dad told me about an accessory you could get in the 50s that was even better. It had a red, yellow, and green light in it and it went in the back window. While your foot was on the gas pedal the green light would be on. If you took your foot off the gas the yellow light would come on, and if you touched the brake the red light would come on. It gave drivers behind you an indication that you were decelerating before your brake lights kicked in.

Jake (formerly Riposte3) said...

Our '77 Chrysler LeBaron had the little turn signal lights on the edge of the hood, that you could only see from inside the car. They were supposed to let you know that your front signals were working (I'm still not sure if there was a separate bulb there, or if it used some kind of optical gizmo to pick up the light from the actual signal). I know several other makes and models had the same kind of gizmo, but you don't see them anymore.

flashman said...

Automatic high-beam dimmers.

Mike W. said...

My first car had popup headlights. Unfortunately it was a Pontiac Fiero.

Mdev said...

How about the retarded auto seatbelts. On the plus side I like the turn signals in the mirrors that a lot of suv's have.

A while back gmc had two cool options. First was mirrors that rotated when you shifted into reverse and the second were rear wheels that had a slight amount of steering when backing up.

However the coolest and dumbest feature I have personally used was the refrigerated in dash cooler on my buddies dodge caliber. Perfect for chilling a coke on the road.

Skip said...

My '57 Chevy had the filler behind the tailight.

fast richard said...

I remember my dad having to show service station attendants where to find the filler cap on the fifty-seven Chevy. The rotating headlights on my Opel GT were a pain. The Plymouth Valiant I learned to drive in had the pushbutton transmission.

Oddball said...

As bizarre as it sounds, shifters on the steering wheel stalk and full bench seats for front seats. Think about it, when was the last time you saw that set up instead of buckets and the shifter on the floor? Even for automatics.

Dave H said...

I'd kill for a bench seat in my car. I'm to the point bucket seats don't fit me any more. I'm more in need of a washtub seat.

DaddyBear said...

Truck Nutz.
Plywood spoilers
Dual exhaust pipes on cars without dual exhaust
Pontiacs with detailed art on their hoods

Jay G said...

"Think about it, when was the last time you saw that set up instead of buckets and the shifter on the floor?"

Um, about five minutes ago, when I got out of the Dodge Earthf**ker?

:D

Old NFO said...

LOL, good ones and no stranger than phones in cars...

JD Rush said...

My Chevy Earthf**ker also has the proper bench/column shift location. Impalas can still be had in that configuration (they still make them) My truck had fake duals- now it is just dumped. "WHAT, did you say something honey?" Best thing I ever did....

Roy said...

My Dad once had an old 50's Cadillac. I think it was a 55, but I'm not 100% sure. It was a huge car that was solid black. (Except for all the kids riding in the back he could have passed for a mafiosi.)

The gas cap was hidden inside the left tail light. Just below the light was a small round reflector about the size of a quarter. You pushed it in and the tail light flipped up. The gas cap was underneath.

The car also had a retractable radio antenna on the rear fin. (...fins themselves are cool.) When you turned on the radio, the antenna went up. Turn the radio off and the antenna went down. Those were very common on the higher end cars of that day.

Also common in those days was the trunk lock that was hidden behind a medallion.

I remember curb feelers, wide whitewall tires, that gizmo for seeing the traffic light that was almost directly above you. My Dads old Cadillac had all of those, plus the automatic headlight dimmer that had a Fresnel lens doodad mounted up on the dash that did the detecting. It also had power windows which in those days were uncommon and the lap of luxury.

That car had a lot of very cool stuff in it, but it did not have air conditioning.

Jake (formerly Riposte3) said...

"Think about it, when was the last time you saw that set up instead of buckets and the shifter on the floor?"

Um, about five minutes ago, when I got out of the Dodge Earthf**ker?


For me? Sunday, first when I got out of the EMS response vehicle, then again later that day when I got out of the ambulance.

There really aren't that many good places to put shifters, and in bigger vehicles putting them on the floor makes for rather long shift levers. :)

Ed said...

How about VW buses with a spare tire mounted on the nose of the vehicle that also provided very little protection for your legs in a severe collision, with your legs crushed between the front of the vehicle and the front wheel wells? The same vehicles had a manual windshield washer, basically a plastic container of washer fluid with a cap containing a molded in bellows that was pressed repeatedly on the center of the cap to pump the fluid to the left and right windshields.

I also remember driving someone's push button automatic transmission that also had a lever next to the push buttons for putting the vehicle in gear and out of gear, sort of like a clutch.

agg79 said...

How about the add on under dash A/C unit in my '68 Mustang?

Or Landau roofs?

Rob said...

Floor-mounted dimmer switches.

Weer'd Beard said...

Wasn't that long that they still made Landau Roofs.

Why, I couldn't tell you. they all look like hell!

Stretch said...

The most useless item I ever saw was a speedometer ... on a Yugo.

Agree with Mdev that the automatic seat-belts (AKA "passive restraints") sucked. One of the higher failure rate items in the 70s-early 80s. Had a nasty habit of snaring the small and elderly. Though cheaper than air bags the law suits spawned by the automatic seat-belts were a major factor in the industry's wide spread adoption of air bags.

Ross said...

Used to have the horn inside a rubber ring on the inside of the steering wheel on my Dad's '70 Imperial. Same car had a REAL thermostat (like with numbers on it, not just "warmer/cooler") for the AC/heat, an in-dash 8-track player with FOUR speakers (this was 1970, remember!) and hideaway headlights - they had doors that would come down over them. Until the motor burned out, when dad wired the doors open, that is.

Another useless item was the two-speed Powerslide (sorry - PowerGlide) transmission on GM products in the late 60's and early 70's. What a useless piece of garbage.

OTOH... we never even HEARD of a "high-pressure donut" - spare tires were real tires.

And I still don't see why the high-beam switch had to be relocated to the turn-signal stalk.