Every now and then, we all notice something on a car that makes us think, “man… that’s super cool. I want one of those.” Often, that object isn’t new to the car scene. Nostalgia runs deep in the automotive community, and there’s an endless number of old-school accessories available for gear-heads.
These retro car accessories are well-known in numerous automotive groups. Plus, you don’t need a specific type of car to appreciate them. In no particular order, here 10 iconic automotive addons that you can use to show your appreciation for American car culture.
10. Mooneyes Decal
You’ve seen it. You may have no idea what it means, but you’ve definitely seen it. The Mooneyes sticker is the quintessential adhesive classic car oval. Mooneyes is still in business today, and always up to something interesting. Here’s where Mooneyes came from.
Mooneyes is the evolution of a company founded by famous drag car builder Dean Moon. Moon owned a speed parts supply company at the height of the hot rod era (1950s) and the muscle car era (1960s-70s). Mooneyes decals and bumper stickers became a symbol of car culture in the United States.
Today, a Mooneyes sticker is a great way to signal to other car guys that you’re into the hobby. It’s one of those, “if you know, you know,” moments, and it’s a conversation piece in and of itself. You can get your Mooneyes sticker from the official Mooneyes USA online store.
9. Little Tree Air Fresheners
Little Trees. They’re classic. They smell great. And they’re cheap. You can get a three pack for a couple of bucks. And with dozens of scents to choose from, there’s really no reason not to get a three pack for a couple of bucks. Little trees are the pink lawn flamingo of car products.
A German-Canadian perfumist Julius Sämann invented Little Trees in 1952. Numerous companies produced copies of his simple fibrous cologne sponge, but there’s only one original Little Tree.
Oh and in case you’re wondering, Junkyard Mob still has a $50 bounty on a three pack of the elusive Black Forest little tree. If you have some, let us know.
8. Post-Mount Spotlight
Spotlights aren’t just for police cars. In fact, spotlights were once a common accessory on everyday cars and trucks. Between the 1940s and the 1980s, Americans installed these classic spotlights by drilling holes in their A-pillars and roofs.
Spotlights aren’t just aesthetically pleasing. They’re useful, and usually easy to install. However, some jurisdictions have restrictions on when and how you can use a spotlight. It’s good practice to keep it pointed inward (and off) when driving.
Pictured here is the classic ‘post-mount’ spotlight. It gets its name because, evidently, it mounts on a post. New-old stock spotlights are often available on eBay for $50-$100, and new spotlights are still produced today. Just make sure to find a mounting kit that fits your application.
7. Fuzzy Dice
Fuzzy dice are manly, and I’m going to prove it. Like many seemingly inexplicable ‘things’ that car people do, the story of fuzzy dice dates back to World War II. During the war, fighter pilots and bomber crews used to hang pairs of dice in their planes for good luck. They also appear on the zippers of USAF flight jackets from the era.
Or so the story goes. Though it makes sense—fuzzy dice appeared in the early 1950s and became an essential classic car accessory. Are fuzzy dice obnoxious? Perhaps. They also serve no purpose. But when has that been an excuse not to spend money on car stuff?
6. ‘76’ Antenna Ball
Few foam spheres enjoy the notoriety of the classic orange 76 antenna ball. This early form of gas station ‘merch’ was quite common in the 1980s. Today, this seemingly insignificant antenna ball has a significant following, especially amongst west coast Volkswagen owners.
Decorative antenna toppers like this aren’t impossible to find, but it’s a lot harder to get your hands on one than it used to be. And, it’ll cost you—76 antenna balls on Amazon sell for $13 or more.
5. Leather Car Key Case
The old leather key case isn’t really a car accessory. It’s a nod to a bygone era when dealership swag came from factories in Ohio. These key holders are little more than a flap of leather with a screw and a brass button. But they serve a practical purpose, especially if you put your keys in your jeans pocket.
Initially, they were used to keep your keys from getting caught on your clothes or rattling around in the ignition. Today, leather key holders can prevent your keys from scratching your phone. Our favorite reproduction is available from Squarebody Syndicate in their online store.
4. Brodie Knob
The Brodie Knob (AKA ‘Suicide Spinner’) comes from a time when manual steering was the norm. It was invented in 1936 and named after infamous stuntsman Steve Brodie. In a vehicle without power steering, speed and leverage are your only friends. Anybody who drives a 60s Ford pickup can attest. The Suicide Spinner mounts like a bicycle horn and turns the steering wheel into a crank, allowing you to turn it faster.
Why do they call it a Suicide Spinner? Well, because people used it to perform ‘reckless’ vehicular maneuvers. Plus, manual steering transfers a ton of force from the road to the steering wheel, so the knob could cause injury when the wheel flies around. Unlike cars with manual steering, you can buy a Brodie Knob at any auto parts store.
3. Saddle Seat Cover
Ah, yes. The disgusting junkyard bench seat cover. Every rusty suburban west of the Ozarks has one, and it releases an apocalyptic dust cloud whenever touched. But if you drive a classic car with a bench seat, it’s a very useful thing to have. Especially if you have original upholstery.
These horse blankets are quite durable (even the cheap ones), and they fit most standard bench seats. Plus, they’re super classic and fit the aesthetic of most vintage cars. You’re in luck if you drive a modern car, too—these colorful catastrophes are also available for bucket seats and split benches.
2. Barefoot Pedals
Use it for your gas pedal. Use it for your highbeam switch. Here’s another throwback speedshop gag that once ruled the knick knack aisle. Back in the muscle car era, every kid with a Duster or clapped-out lead sled owned a set of these.
The barefoot pedal was once available at every corner auto parts store. Today, cheap copies are sold in stores but Mooneyes still produces their signature barefoot gas pedal. These items offer little practical benefit, but they look pretty slick.
1. CB Radio
Back in the day, CB (or ‘Citizen’s Band) radios were a popular accessory for cars and trucks. These 40-channel radios allowed drivers to communicate with strangers and friends while on the road, and provided entertainment and safety on long drives. At the height of CB popularity in the 1970s, the FCC required each user to obtain a license. Today, you don’t need a license to operate a CB radio in your car.
CB radios are still popular in many parts of the country, and virtually every semi truck driver uses one regularly. Channel 19 is the ‘trucker’ channel, and classic movies like Convoy provide an insight into that life. You can buy a CB radio for $30-$100 on Amazon or any national truck stop chain. Installation is easy, and it’s a blast to tune into conversations and talk with people on the road.
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