Thursday January 31, 2019
Travel back with us to a time of Spangles, Texan Bars and when these accessories would make your Austin Maxi 1500 look like a Lincoln Continental. Almost.
The problem – it is 1988, and your ten-year-old Fiesta Standard is not sufficient to cut a dash in the student car park at a Sixth Form College in Southampton. The solution – some carefully applied after-market stripes (plus a front spoiler gleaned from a local scrapyard) and your Ford will resemble a first-generation XR2.
Unfortunately, this plan only works if your car was seen in twilight, preferably from a distance, and in the middle of a fog. And if you never actually fired up the engine.
Given the dismal performance of many non-halogen headlamps, spot, fog, and driving lamps were often an essential fitting. However, why stop at just a pair of Lucas “Silver Sables” when decorating the entire front bumper of your Hillman Super Minx or Vauxhall Victor FC would make you resemble Graham Hill or Jackie Stewart. Presumably.
In the late 1960s, a vinyl roof on a new Vauxhall Viscount or Ventora FD inferred that you were the sort of executive who pretended to understand a wine list. Fifteen years later, asides from the likes of the Rolls-Royce Silver Spur, the accessory had largely fallen out of fashion and seemed to be the province of high-end Eastern European imports.
They were also applied to used Cortina 1300L Mk. IIIs in sheds and garages across the UK, to add that touch of glamour to these visits to the A303 Little Chef.
An accessory that dates back longer than is popularly imagined. In the 1950s, hot-rodders began to attach plastic dice to their rear view mirrors to indicate to respectable Chevrolet Bel Air owners that they were ‘dicing with death, daddio’, but as they tended to melt in the Californian sun, manufacturers began to use fabrics.
In the UK, they came to be associated less with John Milner-style drivers of ’32 Deuce Coupes and more with Viva SL owners who were often gonged for travelling at 85 mph on the new M27.
FEU ORANGE CAR AIR FRESHENER
In the 1970s and 1980s, no self-respecting car would have been complete without a Feu Orange to spread cologne through the cabin. Back in 1952, the chemist Julius Sämann devised the “Little Trees” air freshener for the US market while on this side of the Atlantic, that “traffic light” would make your Hillman Avenger GL appear to be as suave as any Sacha Distel record for just 75 pence.
An accessory that will forever be associated with tins of travel sweets, Pete Murray on Radio 2 and aromas so strong that driving along the A46 with all windows lowered was essential.
DIXIE AIR HORNS
Personally, I blame the impact of The Dukes of Hazzard when it first aired on BBC television. After watching just a few episodes, some very deluded Morris Marina 1.8 TC Coupe drivers were now under the impression that a) said accessory was ‘humorous’ and b) that it would make them very popular with their neighbours. They were very very wrong…