By Cory Doctorow at 3:11 pm Wed, Oct 26, 2011
Pretty much every item for sale on this 1907 ad for "open driving" accessories would make my life better today in 2011, and I don't even own a car. Sleeve protector, robes and apron, raw hide tire bands, and bullet lamps, yes please!
Accessories for Open Driving, 1907
You know there’s some mischief going on ‘neath the apron at lower left. Rob Halford used to wear hats like that.
Nifty. I take it the Raw Hide Tire Bands were for extra traction? Or to stop a leak?
Nothing says “badass gearhead” like leather sleeve protectors. Where do I get a pair?
I wonder if people back then viewed the people who over accessorised their cars then the way they do now.
Hang on, what’s that thing in the middle?
That’s ‘The Cyclops’ – a fifty pound leather hat designed to protect everything except one eye hole (or breathing hole) from the elements.
I wonder how many of these things were practicable and how many were “fashion” at this point in car history.
Now we know: Horn = practical Horn Playing Your Favorite Will Smith Song = Fashion. Or lack there off.
Why do I get the impression that ‘The Cyclops’ was a little less than practicable ?
That’s their remedy for the situation encountered by the Young Man From Boston, Who Drove Around Town In An Austin.
The automobilic version of The Isolator(tm). For the man living a mobile lifestyle who still desires to remain isolated.
The roads were poor and little was archieved in the field of hydraulics, the balloon you see in the middle turned you car into a flying machine (in conjunction with a propeller). But who wants to fly when driving is the “thing”. Preposterous.
Dear Sirs – Regarding your recent advertisement in the Cycle and Automobile Trade Journal, I am writing to inquire as to whether you could sell to me such accessories as might be needed to, speaking in the vernacular, “pimp” my “ride”.
So when did America lose the ‘ue’ at the end of catalogue?
Just the other day I saw a pimped-out car. Glossy black with tinted windows, lowered suspension, ground effect skirts, flashy wheels, neon underbody lights – all on a Smart car. I have never felt such a strong desire to slap some sense into a stranger.
Edit: I forgot to mention the monster spoiler.
I’ll bet that poseur wasn’t rocking any rawhide tire bands!
Can we have their prices? I figure I would rather not have paid $800 for a soft top for the jeep…
…and those tire bands look almost easier than chains
Depending upon calculation method and style of top, that giant apron with holes for $7 to $12 would cost somewhere between $150-$300 by CPI, or, for comparing it in terms of affordability, well over $1000.
The message of this catalog tells me that motoring was a filthy pastime back then.
So that thing in the middle is a leather head protector? Or a Montgolfier balloon?
These sort of accessories seem reasonable given that autos of the time were pretty sparsely equipped and left the occupants exposed to the elements.
I’ll trade you your winged Smart for a Ford Fairmont wagon (ca. 1982) with a huge FEAR THIS decal across the top of the windshield.
Ford Fairmont wagon (ca. 1982)
Duuuuude! Lost my virginity in the back of my first car: a 1978 Mercury Zephyr wagon (same car as the Fairmont with 4 headlights instead of 2).
That ride required no pimpin’, but instead of the Fear This sticker, I had a pair of bull horns (the kind found on the head of a bull) mounted above the windshield. I was going to mount them at the front of the hood like Big Enos, but it honestly looked too much like a mustache.
(“Ah,” thinks the BB commentariat. “So much begins to make sense now.”)
The five-man poncho is the pièce de résistance.
Altho sex in cars wasn’t uncommon when they were mostly open touring bodies, when they started making closed body cars for reasonable prices in the twenties, Katie bar the door – it was hard enough to get enough clothes out the way, and then you have all these accoutrements to unstrap; altho a girl in split-vane goggles and leather bits is certainly intriguing.
Get your freak on….
I believe the speedbag-looking thing in the middle without a caption is a leather headlight cover, and the four images surrounding it are visual depictions of the four different headlight shapes it can be ordered to fit.
I think it’s a sack protector. Back then, roads were pretty much dirt tracks and your balls would be shaken to little pieces without them. On a horse you can ‘stand up’ a bit to prevent that but since you can’t really do that in a car and cars tend to go much faster than horser they invented these little sack protectors. Everybody had one in those days.
The practicality is stunning. If the car were to roll over, all the victims would not only be held together by the weather apron, but you have a ready made body bag for all of them at once. Makes accident clean up a cinch.
Gear shift knob cover.
there’s a leather sleeve protector up on ebay right now.
Funny you should mention ebay. boing boing has a funny way of making me search for things on ebay that I suddenly (at this second, but recant five seconds later) think would be neat to collect.
So we’ve had more than 100 years of auto accessories and I’ve still yet to see a commercialised version of “Press ‘x’ to flip vehicle”. What a travesty!
I am unsure about the purpose of tyre hands.. Google failed me on that. It looks like something which you would use to patch a broken tyre. Any 100 year old bike riders around who can enlighten me?
I can’t tell if you read it wrong on the ad or there’s a typo in your comment… They’re listed as Tire Bands. I presume they’ re for better traction, because tires on cars at this time would have likely been solid rubber (according to this timeline, at least).
It looked like hands when I initially read the image but I can see now that it says bands which makes more sense. Thanks for the clarification.
Is it me, or could most of these accessories also be marketed as Occupy Wall St accessories?
The whole thing reminds me of how ridiculous early car manufacturers were with trying to make cars like horse drawn carriages. When did the windshield finally make it? Makes me wonder about our current tech and what glaring omission future generations will make fun of us for.
My “computer” still looks a lot like a “typewriter”. It was made before those “pad” things that people were always buying leather accessories for , way back in 2011.
At this point in time, cars were mostly for the wealthy or well-to-do, and were generally fair weather transportation. They look like carriages because that was the accepted style – some rural marketed automobiles looked deliberately like wagons, wooden wheels and all. Autos back then often had poorly protected, volitile fuel syestems with primitive carburettors, and you wanted to be able to exit the vehicle in a hurry. The Tire Hands were for traction on the lousy roads they had, and most cars had balloon tires by this point as opposed to solid ones – inner tubes and patches were big business.The brakes were primitive, usually a hand brake, not foot. The driver was constantly adjusting things as he drove, there few automatic spark advances and trannies were the crash variety – you crashed the gears together trying judge the speed of the engine vs the speed of the gearing and auto. Most autos had very long-stroke engines and revved to low RPM so you didn’t have to shift much. A lot of bodies were fabric doped with glue, and most were somewhat custom built. If you had an accident, the advice was jump for it!
The Aprons were early versions of the tonneau covers still made for open-top cars:
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