Top Ten Coolest Auto Accessories: From the JC Whitney Vault - Circa 50s, 60s, 70s

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JC Whitney searches the catalog archives to celebrate 100 years and finds some of what makes car people so cool, from car club jackets to lowering Kits and chrome-plated distributor caps.

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Cars and car culture are the epitome of cool – especially if you customize your own ride.

JC Whitney, the company with one of the most comprehensive selections of auto parts and accessories in the world, has built its business over the past 100 years by offering "everything automotive" to DIYers, enthusiasts and folks just looking to personalize their rides with a little flair. And, over the years, the company has learned volumes about what moves hobbyists and DIYers, and the tastes and preferences of the car culture. Today, the company is sharing the ‘Top Ten’ of what it considers to be some of the coolest auto accessories ever offered, most from the ‘50s ‘60s, and ‘70s.

“Cars and car culture are the epitome of cool – especially if you customize your own ride,” said JC Whitney President Shane Evangelist. “One of the many rich benefits of being a part of the automotive scene for 100 years is that we’ve gained a historical perspective on ‘cool’. Going through the archives made us ask: ‘what is cool, anyway?’ We think, as this top ten list demonstrates, it’s all about performance, a personal touch and the latest technology.”

The JC Whitney staff combed through past catalogs and reached out to auto enthusiasts to come up with ten of the coolest car gadgets, gizmos and performance accessories…ever:

1.    Engine Adapter Housing
Say you’re a hot rod swapper, and you love Buick engines from the late 1950s. Sadly, though, you have a Ford transmission. What to do? Adapt it! Long before precision CNC machining was available, JC Whitney made it cheap and easy to combine different manufacturer engines and transmissions, via a comprehensive assortment of swap kits, ready to bolt together right out of the box. Was available in the 1957 catalog starting at $38.50.

2.    Judson Supercharger Kits
As imports became more common, JC Whitney knew that American drivers craved more power and offered the perfect solution for Austin-Healey, MG, Triumph and VW owners. Packing up to 50 percent more power and promising easy bolt-on installation, the Judson blowers were the answer for more punch. Was available in the 1968 catalog, prices ranged from $139.50 to $219.95.

3.    Chrome Plated Distributor Cap
Like a disco ball for your engine compartment! Touted as molded of Bakelite and finished with top quality chrome, JC Whitney offered an easy way to bling up your engine compartment. How we yearn for the simpler days, when you could see distributors and plug wires under the hood. Was available in the 1960 catalog, prices ranged from $2.95 to $6.50.

4.    Lowering Kits
Who doesn’t think lowered cars look cool? It’s a look that will never go out of style, and JC Whitney knew it, so they offered the simple way to lower the front or rear of any car on coil springs without cutting, drilling or welding. Go lowrider, then change your mind and go highboy with these adjustable units. Was available in the 1959 catalog priced at $4.95 a pair.

5.    Mix and Match Manifolds and Carburetors
JC Whitney offered the largest assortment of high performance intake components on the planet, so you could mix your fuel and air virtually any way you desired. Want dual or triple carbs? How about the sweet six carb log set up for your Dodge, Chrysler, DeSoto, Lincoln, Mercury, Olds or Plymouth? No problem! Feeling like a supercharger on your Olds V8? JC Whitney had that manifold ready to ship to your door. Was available in the 1952 catalog, prices ranged from $12.95 to $74.95 each.

6.    Car Club Jackets
Whether you counted two or 200 members, imagine hanging out at the local stomping ground with your car club…wearing the same cool club jackets with name, embroidered emblem and colors. Perfect for hot rodders, sports cars, boaters, racers and even, gasp, chess clubs? JC Whitney offered multiple options in lettering style, emblem design, colors and sizes. Go CamBusters! Was available in the 1958 catalog starting at $10.95 and up.

7.    Tu-Tone Muffler, with Finger Tip Variable Sound Control
Normally you had to choose one exhaust tone, loud or soft. Cops and neighbors don’t like loud and soft is boring. Fortunately, JC Whitney let you adjust the tone of your exhaust from the dash. Tu-Tone could be quiet in the city and uncorked in the country, and boosted mileage, horsepower, engine efficiency and reduced carbon formation. Was available in the 1953 catalog priced at $14.95.

8.    Horns, Horns and More Horns
Ah-ooo-gah! What better way to personalize your vehicle than with its own unique sound, right? JC Whitney offered horns to fit every automotive style and personal taste. Air horns, musical horns, train horns and more. Louder and much cooler than stock, you could even make your ride whinny, roar or trumpet like a brass band. Was available in the 1971 catalog, prices ranged from $3.98 to $41.98.

9.    Imported Marchal Driving Lamp
Nothing beats surprising people with a concentrated long beam…right? These beauties boasted a “scientific design that permits a stronger beam with less electrical consumption than the ordinary sealed beam.” These lights were triple chrome-plated and brought style and function to any car they were added to. Was available in the 1950 catalog priced at $14.95 each.

10.    Limited-Slip Differential
When you are doing a burnout how many stripes do you want to leave? JC Whitney knew the answer was always two, and launched the careers of wannabe drag and rally racers across the country. And with a limited-slip in your pumpkin, you could accelerate more efficiently, get out of corners faster and avoid getting stuck in snow or mud. Was available in the 1959 catalog, prices ranged from $73.50 to $84.95.

What do you remember from the catalogs? Leave a comment and share your best memories of the JC Whitney catalogs.

Want to find out about the top ten oddest auto accessories ever from the JC Whitney vault? Click here.

*Pricing listed for the automotive accessories in this press release are vintage pricing from the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s.

About JC Whitney
Established in 1915, JC Whitney is the largest direct marketer of name-brand automotive parts and accessories, providing "everything automotive" with more than 6 million automotive applications from the latest model year back to the 1920s, and over 1.2 million parts for over 25 million different vehicles. Backed by 100 years of hands-on, expert customer service, JC Whitney offers products for virtually any vehicle — automobiles, trucks, jeeps, modern muscle, motorcycles, and more — through its comprehensive family of general and vehicle-specific catalogs and

Contact: For a list of scheduled media events, to share your JC Whitney memories and to set up interviews contact:

Melanie Webber, mWEBB Communications, (424) 603-4340
Elizabeth Johnson, mWEBB Communications, (213) 713-4865

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