Today’s cars come so well equipped, and factory-priced accordingly, that the auto accessory market has dwindled hugely compared to what it Yoostabee (used to be).
So today, Yoostabee, my alter ego, is going to turn back the calendar, a few decades, to the 1940s, and tell you how car nuts “used to” tailor their wheels for their needs and egos.
Indeed, in the sellers’ market right after World War II, new car buyers were compelled by new-car dealers, many of whom barely managed to stay afloat during the war years and now were playing catch-up, to accept expensive accessories on top of the full “list” price they paid for much sought after new cars. Veterans returned from the war with cash in their pockets for a new car. Prices of used cars were inflated. There was pent-up demand from essentially four years of no new cars or trucks.
Some of the most common accessories mounted on new cars of the times—and buyers had to accept them if they wanted those new wheels—were fog lamps (twin, yellow, front bumper-mounted), sunshades mounted to the A-pillars and shading the two-piece windshields of the time, and straw-and-fabric seat covers to go over the factory mohair upholstery. The last were fairly practical because, by protecting the original trim, they enhanced the value of the car when it was eventually sold or traded in.