Classic cars' period correct accessories have become hot commodities

The 1958 Cadillac Eldorado featured the brand's beautiful

The 1958 Cadillac Eldorado featured the brand's beautiful Sabre Wheel. It will bolt onto several other Cadillacs, but use of the wheel on anything but a 1955-1958 Eldorado will result in a deduction of points at classic car shows. (Credit: AP )

It’s hard to believe, but many of the accessories that I used to add to my cars some thirty of forty years ago have come full circle from being expensive aftermarket parts, to inexpensive used junk, to trendy “Period Correct Accessories.” I am amazed at the prices for which some of these accessories trade hands nowadays.

There was a time not so long ago when the inclusion of one or more of these accessories would cost a car precious points at a show. Particularly at a Concours event. I never fully understood this because it was acceptable - and even encouraged - for the car owners to dress in period correct clothing. I mean, the owners didn’t leave the factory in those clothes - or any clothes for that matter.

But in the words of a period correct songwriter, “The times, they are a changin,” and this is manifesting in the collector car hobby.


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Since 1950, the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance has been the ultimate car show to which only about 200 cars are invited to participate each year.

Primarily the haunt of vintage Ferraris, Duesenbergs, and coach-built classics, a Hot Rod had not graced the field for almost half a century. That all changed in 1997, when long-time competitor Bruce Meyer managed to convince the organizers that that there should exist a class for Historic Hot Rods. When you think about it…What is a Historic Hot Rod if not the ultimate Period Correct Accessory to any classic car collection. 

Since that time, “automobilia-” and “period correct accessories” in particular have been hot commodities.

At many cars shows, even those where judging is to a very high level, aftermarket equipment and accessories are allowed, providing they are “period correct.” The same holds true with “original equipment” accessories, but they must usually be specific to the automobile manufacturers own year, make, model, and even trim level on which the accessory is installed.

Take Cadillac’s beautiful Sabre Wheel for example. Although this wheel will bolt onto many mid-1950s Cadillac’s, it was only available on the 1955 - 1958 Eldorado. Therefore, even at shows that allow “period correct accessories,” the use of this wheel on anything but a 1955-1958 Eldorado will result in a deduction of points.

Now let’s look at Kelsey Hayes spoke wheels which were offered as an option by most Cadillac dealers from around 1953 – 1964. Because they are “period correct accessories” for the entire line of Cadillac models (as well as many other cars of the period), their use will not result in a points deduction at the same show.

One can quickly see how acceptance of “period correct accessories” can greatly enhance their collectability, and therefore value. Even though these Kelsey Hayes wheels are now reproduced, with excellent quality, made in U.S.A. ones selling for about $2500.00 per set, I have personally seen original ones sell for over $10,000.00 for a set.

The best part about “period correct accessories” is that they open up a whole new way to enjoy your classic car. I’m not suggesting that you run out and buy every accessory that might have ever been installed on your car, but a few interesting pieces might be fun.

If performance is your thing, perhaps bolting an Offenhauser “Three Deuce” intake manifold onto your Flathead Ford will wake up an otherwise sleepy engine. I guarantee it will look more impressive when you open the hood.

There are lots of choices in the cosmetics department. A set of American Racing Torque Thrust, or Cragar SS wheels were so popular in their day that they almost look original. License plate frames, hood ornaments, and shift knobs are available in such abundance that I would be surprised if you found the perfect one at the next flea market.

Side-mount mirrors, curb-feelers, fog lights, and pivotable spot-lights might help you avoid bumping into things, but just in case you do, you could always add a set of bumper guards. And whether your favorite cartoon character is Yosemite Sam or Sponge Bob Square Pants, there’s a set of mud flaps for just about everyone.

If your tastes lean a little bit more in the elegant direction, and comfort is of paramount importance, how about a wicker picnic basket to strap to your luggage rack (after you’ve removed the fitted luggage of course), and a dash mounted personal cooling fan which will not only keep you cool, but also prevent the fresh flowers in your porcelain “Blumenvasen” from wilting. Make sure to get a tissue dispenser just in case your break a sweat. A full width windshield visor will also help keep the temperature down as well as the sun out of your eyes. But it might block the view of the traffic signal, so you’ll want to look into a Traffic Minder to mount onto your dash so that you won’t have to crane your neck at the next red light.

The list could go on forever, but my favorite would have to be the Bobblehead. I can’t help but wonder who thought of that? But then again, who thought of the Pet Rock? 

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