According to you: The best, period-correct automotive accessories

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Welcome to According to You, a weekly prompt on Hagerty Media where we pose a question, collect the answers, and share them the following week!

Last week we asked you about your preferred automotive accessories of the period-correct variety. I chimed in with items over the course of several decades, but my conversation stimulation was unnecessary, as your responses were outstanding. Considering the number of subsystems that can be accessorized over the course of 80+ years of automotive modifications, I organized the submissions by our five senses as human beings. It’s a delicious curveball to stereotypical list and makes it easier to consolidate everyone’s suggestions.

Let’s start with the most obvious of the five senses used when considering period-correct automotive upgrades: our sense of … wait, what? Really?  

For the tastebuds:

Model T Ford Club of America

Cooking food on a hot engine is nothing new, there’s even a book about it. But when was the last time you saw an accessory designed specifically for this cause, much less one made specifically for the Ford Model T? For those interested in seeing what can be made under the Model T’s modest hood, have a look at these recipes.

Thanks to Hagerty Community member scbullis for bringing this one up, and to HASCpres2019 for adding some context: “A friend of ours has one of those on his 1926 Model T. It cooks up a mean stew. Funny though how on a tour you can see the spectators’ noses twitching as he drives by!”

For the eyes, outside:

Several mentions of the Torq-Thrusts I recommended were appreciated, but my favorite new (so to speak) item to add to the list are “blue dot” taillight jewels. These jeweled light inserts turn purple when the red light is activated. While this accessory is technically illegal in many states, what are the odds anyone truly cares in this era of blinding LED lights on lifted pickups? No matter, here are the other visual modifications your eyes can enjoy in period-correct perfection.

Flickr | kaslingsby

And DUB6 added, “In the late ’50s and into the mid-’60s, those who couldn’t afford mags made do with chrome-reversed steelies (above) with Baby Moon hub caps (not pictured above). All the cool guys had ’em!”

For the eyes, inside:

Classic Consoles

My aforementioned car phone example got a few more upvotes, but GearJammer added accessories to my mention of fuzzy dice, suggesting “you left off the suicide steering wheel knob and the curb feelers for the ’50s era.” Well yeah, I’m here to get the party started, not to hog up the dance floor!

Mooneyes

Much like my comment about fake cellphone antennas being still available, RG440 mentioned the timeless appeal of the Windshield Stoplight Prism, noting that they:

Always added flair to a large number of period accurate automobiles. With the large influx of SUVs, the prism is actually making a comeback and can be acquired at Wally World for ten bucks today, saving the neck from crunching down at stoplights. However, these new lens fall short of the clarity of the originals.”

Here are a few more items you came up with, and they’re certainly worth mentioning:

  • Clip on (window ledge) cup holders
  • Window ledge arm rests
  • USB cables
  • Tissue dispensers
  • Cigarette lighters
  • Ashtrays
  • Dashboard compass (liquid filled)
  • Clear vinyl seat covers
  • Arm rests/Consoles for bench seats

For the ears:

Alpine Electronics

Ah yes, a topic that’s ear and dear to my heart. Many moons ago, I covered the phenomenon of factory upgraded audio systems in great detail, but the fact is “we” were doing the same things well before the automakers understood the value of a quality audio system.

  1. Graphic equalizers (with or without amplification)
  2. 8-track players
  3. Extra speakers under the dash
  4. Cassette decks
  5. 6×9-inch speakers in the rear package tray
  6. FM transmittors (for AM radios)
  7. CD Changers (which ironically often needed on FM modulators)
  8. CB radios

For the sense of touch:

AVS Motorsports

Who wouldn’t want to be pressed into the seat harder with some period-correct performance bits that have the power to take you back in time? Here’s a list of your favorites, and I’ve added mine (with asterisks) at the end.

  • Air Shocks (to clear larger rear tires)
  • Traction Bars
  • Performance mufflers (Cherry Bomb, Thrush, Flowmaster*, Magnaflow*)
  • Lake pipes
  • Hurst Shifters
  • Cat back exhaust systems*
  • Ford Ardun heads*
  • Chevy Double Hump heads*
  • Any speed part no longer in production* (Ford GT-40/GM Tuned Port Injection intakes, model specific Kooks headers, Powerdyne Superchargers, etc.)

But the sense of touch was also improved with safety and comfort features, as several mentions were made of under-dash air conditioners, swamp coolers filled with ice, and even dash-mounted fans. Who wouldn’t love a cooling touch on a hot summer day?

JC Whitney | Corvair Center

But the safety element was made clear by Hagerty Community member lust4speed, and one aftermarket item was so good that the OEMs made it standard fare in the late 1960s. “Headrests! Long before the automakers picked up on a well-established trend, the cool guys would purchase a set of headrests from Pep Boys or J.C. Whitney and mutilate the front seat backs putting the necessary bracketry in place to hang our newest purchase.”

So what did we miss? And by “we” I mean you, because if you don’t help us with these bi-weekly lists, we’ll never get it right!

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Comments

    Oh- sorry. Forgot to include that you do a ripping great column that I look forward to reading, Mr Mehta. You and auto journalist Sam Smith (“Smithology”) are my go to commentators. Kudos, never stop.

    Nice stroll down nostalgia lane for a born ’59 GTO guy. I’d also suggest the T-handled Hurst shifter, yellow Lakewood or Mr. Gasket slapper bars for leaf spring, air shock (gotta be Gabriel HiJackers!) equipped Mopars & monoleaf early Camaros, and yellow or green behind grill foglamps for your dropped Buick duece and a quarter, any Caddy, Olds 88/98s, to augment the “diamonds in the back, sunroof top, diggin’ the scene with a gangster lean” ’70s pimp mobile sled already possessed of lit curb feelers, v shaped tv antenna, and faux Rolls grill (watch “Superfly” or “Live and Let Die” for great examples). I do miss the ’70s, when any kid with a job could buy and insure a tired musclecar or deluxe luxo barge. Sigh.

    In the late ’60s we high schoolers who couldn’t afford the chrome reverse steelies bought hubcap look-alikes from J.C. Whitney or Warshawsky and painted the stamped lug nuts and hub centers black for more authenticity, probably fooling no one but ourselves.

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