America is all about individualism. One person’s “cool” is another’s “crap.” But if you drive a Honda Accord with a spoiler, a Ford Focus with curb feelers or pretty much any car sporting headlight eyelashes or a pair of “accessories” dangling from the rear bumper, cover your eyes and ears.
We asked our Facebook fans, “What’s the worst automotive accessory you’ve ever seen?” It appears you’ve seen a lot.
Expecting a lot of nominations for innovations that didn’t quite measure up, we thought replies would include things like the Automatic Beam Changer, which was designed to sense oncoming headlights and adjust accordingly but was often thrown off by its own headlights reflecting off signs and mailboxes. Or the Car Swamp, Thermador and other aftermarket air-conditioners, which did the trick – sort of – as long as you planned ahead and didn’t drive far.
Thankfully, Ken Forbes mentioned the iconic (infamous?) Highway Hi-Fi – yes, a record player … in a car. What could go wrong? But that invention was quickly praised by Ryan Gannon, who pointed out, “I think you confused worst with most awesome.”
Another Ryan, Ryan Douglas, served up a surprise by nominating a safety innovation that has more than proven its worth over the decades: Seat belts. Maybe he’s a suspender guy.
But most of you called out automotive accessories that pander to our own ideas about what’s cool, rather than serve a particular function. Here are your top five:
Oversized wheels – For the record, no one wrote the word “donk.” So hold the emails, donkers. What they did mention were “oversized” wheels, “ridiculously large” wheels and wheels “over 20 (inches).” You be the judge. John Michaels added, “Spinner hubcaps are pretty bad.” Salt in the wound.
Wings/spoilers – As Rob Gregory wrote, wings/spoilers are only cool if they actually enhance a car’s performance, like those on “the Superbird and Daytona.” In other words, as James Jones wrote, they’re useless “on front-wheel drives.” If a picture is worth a thousand words, Craig Nelson said a mouthful by writing nothing and simply posting a photo of an Accord. In spite of its wings, it doesn’t fly.
Curb feelers – Yes, they serve a function. Curb feelers – side springs or wires that stick out from the bottom of a car – alert a driver when he’s getting close to a curb. While they may be justified on finer automobiles, many of you pointed out that they look pretty silly when they’re installed on cars that are, ahem, of lesser quality. Brian Veal’s example? “Curb feelers on a Ford Focus.” Enough said.
Fakes without function – Take it away, Shawn Monteer: “Non-functioning anything. Fender vents, hood scoops, exhaust openings, brake cooling vents.” Feel free to add to the list.
Eye lashes/noses/antlers and other body parts – We’ve all seen them, and generally they’re polarizing. Giant eyelashes above the headlights. Rudolph’s red nose and reindeer antlers at Christmas. And then there’s Ryan Gannon’s nomination: “The plastic (or metal) testicles that some people hang from bumpers.” These “decorations” actually have a name – there’s even a Wikipedia entry describing them in detail (search at your own risk). But Gannon calls them “absolutely ridiculous.” Come on man, put some pants on!