2 September 2016

From big wheels to big noses to big… These are the worst automotive accessories

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!

18 Reader Comments

  • 1
    John C Cargill illinois September 8, 2016 at 17:19
    Wheels that are two small, aka lowrider
  • 2
    Don Olsen Denver, PA September 8, 2016 at 17:37
    I nominate the full) BULL TESTICLE SACK dangling from a trailer hitch so prevalent on pickups around here!
  • 3
    Don Olsen Denver, PA September 8, 2016 at 17:40
    Guess I should have finished reading the article before commenting! Duhhh
  • 4
    Bob California September 8, 2016 at 21:59
    It seems that you want to display the words of people that know nothing about the car culture. I am so disappointed in the best classic car insurance company in America to slap around the culture they way you do, without knowing anything about history. I quit reading your so called information editorials??? a long time ago and will again.
  • 5
    Georges Pelletier Windsor, Canada September 9, 2016 at 04:55
    Ferrari plastic on a Fiero or a a Rolls Royce hood/trunk on a Bug should have been included.
  • 6
    David Okon Ottawa, Illinois September 9, 2016 at 19:14
    You forgot bras - one of the worst accessories ever invented for cars. They actually do more harm than good by trapping moisture against the car finish.
  • 7
    Laguna Mike Austin, TX September 9, 2016 at 09:28
    How about the phony wire wheel covers that stick out a foot with phony knock offs. What a poser!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • 8
    Skid mark Pdx September 9, 2016 at 10:38
    People who drive with their fog lights on bright sunny days
  • 9
    Art Wegweiser Allison Park, PA September 9, 2016 at 11:52
    Bermuda Bells- A clanger set in the floor that was stompted on with the left toot. A mini traffic light hung in the rear window which respond to brake and gas pedal. A sander fitted thru the trunk that dropped stuff in front of the rear wheel on ice condition. A bright rotating crystal hung from the mirror which annoyed the hell out of following drivers.
  • 10
    Robert MacLeod Alberta September 9, 2016 at 00:10
    Come on... curb feelers look way better on a Rambler American that on on a late 60's Ferrari GTA. Big plastic bug deflectors looked "great" on Ramblers too.
  • 11
    KD Davin PDX September 10, 2016 at 16:51
    I've seen the eyelash treatment around town., Always on some young woman's little throw away chickmobile. Kinda cute in that setting. It's a girl thing. The testicles that swing beneath the bumpers of them there pick 'em up trux are pathetic. We already are aware of the fact that those fancy cowboy Cadillacs are a substitution for what most guys are trying to keep aft of the saddle horn.. When I see those things I think to myself "which would be more fun? A shotgun full or bird shot or a #1 wood at full swing speed...accelerating through the ball?"
  • 12
    Roy beeler Rocky top tennessee September 11, 2016 at 09:55
    I have to mention the oversize and sometimes non functional pipes run through the bed of diesel pick ups silly
  • 13
    bob lewis windsor on. September 11, 2016 at 23:10
    dice hanging from a mirror....
  • 14
    PATRICK Illinois September 12, 2016 at 13:08
    Not sure if this counts as an accessory but hey, I get to vent. I loathe the the insipid and idiotic drivers side rear window decals showing Mom , Dad , the kids and little Fido.
  • 15
    Johnny B St Louis September 12, 2016 at 17:07
    How about the license plate covers that are so scuffed up or so dark you can't hardly see the plate under it. Why have license plates at all?
  • 16
    Dennis Hawkins Daphne Al, September 12, 2016 at 12:42
    In place of the bull sack I've seen what probably is hex nuts for a two inch bolt dangling from two inch chain links. The other one is the "Stanced" look on independent suspensions with all four wheel canted outward at the bottom so only the very edge of the tire contacts the pavement.
  • 17
    ferd the cloud September 13, 2016 at 10:00
    How about those Hydrogen Generator kits (HHO Generator)? Claim to help gas mileage by injecting hydrogen into your engine (created from water) to burn in place of gasoline. In reality they generate so little hydrogen and do it so slowly that they have no effect at best... possibly even hurt fuel mileage a little because you're carrying their weight. A friend tried one and the first thing he found is that even after allowing the system to "charge" for a few days there was only enough hydrogen to drive for a very short time - and not enough to drive on hydrogen only. So he tried to beef it up via suggestions he found on the Internet... big mistake! The thing blew up! (Fortunately it only destroyed itself – he was able to put the car back together with its original parts and get it going again.)
  • 18
    Harold B.C September 25, 2016 at 13:00
    Brake calipers painted non stock colors. If it came with red Brembos cool , if not stop being a poser .

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