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10 of the best (or worst) retro car accessories

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November 24, 2015
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If you learned to drive in the 1980s, the chances are your first car was pretty basic. OK, very basic. Plastic seats, metal steering wheels, no mod cons, no cassette player (what are CDs?) and a distinct lack of instrumentation.

So, a decade before the modification scene really kicked in, we did our best to personalise our cars with all manner of naff accessories. Obviously, at the time, we thought they were cool, but they mostly weren’t.

Specialist insurance broker Adrian Flux has been providing bespoke cover for modified cars since (mostly) youngsters first decided their car just wasn’t funky enough as it left the factory.

Here are 10 retro accessories that “improved” our cars while our parents looked on in horror.

Other classic 80s additions that didn’t make our top 10 were novelty gear knobs, go faster stripes, novelty attachments for the end of your aerial and massive Kenwood stickers in the back window (they might as well have said “steal my stereo”). Have we forgotten any?

  • Car tyres do not prevent static leaving the car body, because the rubber in car tyres is impregnated with carbon, and hence your car’s tyres are a weak conductor of electricity and will prevent static charges from building up on the vehicle’s chassis.

    The static shocks people get when leaving the car are often caused by occupants shuffling around on the synthetic fibres used in car interiors.

    • OriginalMossman

      True, and it’s leaving the seat-back that gives *me* the shock when I step out (which I prevent by keeping in contact with the door frame while I do it) – but I was just saying that the “reason” for the anti-static strip was totally opposite to what was posted in the article.

  • The Wolesley man

    Sorry to be a kill joy but the furry dice were never a good idea even their heyday. They obscure the central vision area of the screen and i have heard them called ‘the dead pedestrian’ by both Police and Advanced Driver trainers.
    If i see anything dangling in the windscreen of the car in front or behind, I take extra care as this driver can neither do a reasonable risk assessment or see clearly where he is going.

  • Chris

    “Steering wheels…becoming as hot as the surface of Mars in the sun”

    The surface of Mars barely reaches what we’d consider to be room temperature. I guess you meant Mercury.

  • Steve Hancock

    That “cassette” player is an 8 track tape player, not a cassette tape.

  • David Beadle

    Wow, what a nostalgic list, despite the errors (like the photo of the 8 track describing cassette players.). As a driver of 39 years:-
    Yes, I did the sunshade (Radio Caroline), furry seat covers (Mk II Cortina with plastic seats), Aftermarket Cassette (bought second hand at University).
    My Dad had a nodding dog (I have no idea why – we never had a dog)
    My cousin bought Colonel Bogie air-horns for his Triumph Herald instead of new tyres (then got done by the law for bald tyres – lesson learned)
    No-one in our family was stupid enough to do crappy Halfords wheel trims, furry dice, beaded seat covers, anti-static strips, or stick-on instruments.
    Good laugh anyway.




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