Every year, the auto aftermarket sees several new trends spring up. The useful ones end up becoming auto staples. The others fall out of fashion. Here're some that were hot decades ago and are now long gone, and new ones that have us asking: will it last?
Action Companions: Canadian Tire, 1966
Wiper Covers: 2013
Automatic Road Sander: J.C. Whitney, 1960
Blue LED Mirror Ball: 2013
Blue Spot Lights: Canadian Tire, 1966
CD Visor: 2013
Cassette Holder: Canadian Tire, 1988
CB Radio: Canadian Tire, 1988
Car Lashes and Eyeliner: 2013
Turn Signal Animals: Canadian Tire, 1966
Interior Heater: 2013
Windshield Fan: J.C. Whitney, 1960
Windshield Cover: 2013
Plastic Garage: Canadian Tire, 1966
Cruise Control: Canadian Tire, 1988
Head Restraints: Canadian Tire, 1966
Family Stickers: 2013
Station Wagon Screen: Canadian Tire, 1966
Sunroof: Canadian Tire, 1988
Snap-On Whitewalls: Canadian Tire, 1966
- Wiper Covers: 2013
- Automatic Road...
- Blue LED Mirror...
- Blue Spot Lights:...
- CD Visor: 2013
- Cassette Holder:...
- CB Radio:...
- Car Lashes and...
- Turn Signal...
- Interior Heater:...
- Windshield Fan:...
- Windshield Cover:...
- Plastic Garage:...
- Cruise Control:...
- Head Restraints:...
- Family Stickers:...
- Station Wagon...
- Sunroof: Canadian...
These characters, which went on the dash or the parcel shelf behind the rear seats, were all the rage back in the 1960s. It seems the manufacturer didn’t pay licensing fees, which explains the “Beetle” pop star, and the “Tiny Mouse,” a twin for the Topo Gigio puppet from the Ed Sullivan Show. They’re long gone, but the hula dancer is still a popular choice with vintage car fans.
Icy wiper blades are a pain: they don’t clean your windshield properly, and if they’re stuck to the glass, you can damage the blades or even your wiper motor. Rather than leave your wiper arms sticking straight out, as some drivers do, you can slide these covers over the blades to keep them away from the snow.
You have to admire the thought that went into this. If the road got slippery, you pressed a button and dropped a line of sand ahead of your rear tire. It’s likely the weight in the trunk was what actually gave you the traction. We’ve yet to see one at any vintage auto flea market, or on any vintage car, so we’re guessing this one didn’t last very long.
If you lived through disco in the 1970s, you’re probably shuddering. If you didn’t, count your blessings. How long this little item will remain popular is anyone’s guess, but it really depends on how many people still know the words to “Stayin’ Alive.”
These blue lights mounted above the windshield and shone a pale purple-blue light into the car. The catalogue said they were for headlight glare, but they were popularly known as “sex lights.” We’ll leave it up to you to figure out the rest.
It’s a lot easier to stash a handful of CDs, but this may be an item for the nostalgia circuit in a few years. It’s even easier to download thousands of songs into a player, or stream music through your phone, and so some cars are currently leaving the factory without a CD slot in the dash.
Audio cassette tapes were a huge improvement over eight-track tapes, and soon everyone was putting these relatively pricey stereo systems into their cars. But where to stash the tapes? You could put a couple over the visor, or if your collection was large enough, you could opt for a bin that fit over the transmission hump.
The CB radio craze hit its height in the 1970s, when drivers screwed them to the dash, learned the lingo, and jammed the airwaves pretending to be long-haul truckers. Thankfully, it died down fairly quickly. By the time this one was advertised, they were mostly for emergencies, since cell phones were rare. Catch you on the flip-flop, good buddy!
These actually aren’t completely new; you could buy something similar to dress up your Volkswagen Beetle back in the day. But adding “crystal eyeliner” just makes it, wouldn’t you say? We’re not taking bets on longevity here.
If the nodding dog in your back window wasn’t enough, how about one whose eyes lit up in conjunction with your turn signals? It was “practical,” according to the catalogue, as well as fluffy and lovable.
Car heaters work very well now, but letting your car warm up in the morning wastes gas and pollutes the air. This little heater takes the chill off on frosty mornings, and since it will probably never be acceptable to let your car idle, this one might be around for a while.
The defrosters on older cars seldom worked all that well, and on winter days, many didn’t really work at all. These aftermarket fans were popular add-on items, but they actually weren’t much better. Vast improvements in climate control systems made them obsolete.
The Plastic Garage may be gone, but some drivers still want to save themselves the aggravation of cleaning off a snowy or icy windshield. Some people use newspapers, but you might want to instead check out this ready-made guard, which you put on when you park the car, and then remove when you’re ready to leave, pulling the snow off with it.
No garage? No problem! Just grab this giant plastic bag out of your trunk, wrap it around your car, and you’re protected from the elements. It’s likely the one that fit the “small imports and compacts” back in 1966 would almost be big enough for a full-size car today.
Cruise control wasn’t available on many older vehicles, and when it was, it was an expensive option. Even the aftermarket version was $150, which was a lot of money at the time. Today, cruise control is standard on all but a few inexpensive base-trim vehicles, and add-on versions have cruised into the sunset.
Cars in the 1950s and 1960s generally had bench seats. Most drivers sat with their shoulders at or above the seatbacks, which made them susceptible to whiplash in a rear-end collision. You won’t find these in a store anymore, of course, since all cars have head restraints today.
These little stick figures are popular on family vehicles. Given the proliferation of stickers that mock them, along with the privacy issues raised when some people add the children’s names and ages, we’re guessing they’ll be the next to join turn-signal animals and plastic garages in the “I remember when” category.
Wagons were popular in the 1960s, and any child whose parents had one usually made a beeline for the back (seatbelts? What seatbelts?). Sliding side windows were rare, and it could get hot back there, so this screen did the trick. Most wagons are long gone, and of course, the screens are too.
Only a few expensive cars sported sunroofs in the 1980s, but just about everyone wanted one. The solution was the aftermarket sunroof, which involved cutting a hole in the car to install it. You could flip it up, but if you wanted it completely open, you had to take out the glass panel and store it in the trunk. The catalogue says it’s “leakproof,” but it’s doubtful anyone had one that didn’t leak.
Whitewall tires were very popular right up into the 1970s, but blackwall tires were cheaper. The low-cost solution was the fake whitewall (most people call them Portawalls, but that’s a brand name). When these were offered in 1966, the “wide whites” popular in the 1940s and 1950s were giving way to narrower, more modern stripes.