Car accessories through the years, have included some pretty wild items. Take, for instance, the glove compartment that comes outfitted with a magnetic minibar including 6 shot glasses. That particular car accessory would seem to be designed to encourage drunk driving accidents. The magnetic minibar, like so many other new car options, has faded into obscurity, remembered only by car trivia buffs. Nonetheless car companies have continued to market such impractical luxury car accessories through the years. That’s because luxury car accessories are big-time moneymakers for automakers.
Think about it: any wealthy person can buy an expensive car. Unique or unusual car accessories through the years, have been the distinguishing features that give car owners bragging rights. It’s not every car that comes with, for instance, with a matching electric guitar and sound system. It makes sense for car companies to brainstorm the craziest car accessories ever.
Here are five of the wackiest one-time-only offerings in car accessories through the years:
1. 1940s Desoto Cigarette Dispenser
DeSoto was used as a kind of testing ground for various car accessories through the years. If a gimmick worked—or at least pulled in the bucks, it would then be utilized throughout the entire Chrysler lineup. Such was the case with the 1942 Desoto automatic cigarette dispensing system. The car owner could load a pack of cigarettes into the steering wheel horn cover. When craving a smoke, the driver could pull a spring-loaded knob and a fresh cigarette would appear at the top of the steering wheel.
2. GM’s Flame Out: The Chevy 1956-1960 Vacuum Ashtray
From 1956-1960, Chevrolet consumers could opt for the Flame Out ashtray vacuum system. The device used engine vacuum to suck the contents of a car ashtray into a hidden container. Car owners would simply empty the container as it filled. This particular car option was inexpensive at $12.95. Flicking one’s cigarette out the window, however, was free. Which is why the vacuum ashtray was rendered obscure.
3. 1957 Cadillac Eldorado Brougham: Magnetic Glove Box Minibar
Driving under the influence has been illegal since 1910. Cadillac nevertheless came out with a magnetic minibar conveniently located in the glove compartment of the 1957 Eldorado Brougham. Outfitted with 6 steel shot glasses, this new car option was a great way for wealthy car owners to keep up with the Joneses, until such time as they died in alcohol-induced car crashes. Talk about a killer idea.
4. 1956 Packard Caribbean Reversible Seat Cushions
The Packard Caribbean was one of the great luxury cars of 1956. The tri-toned car came in a variety of snazzy colors on both the exterior and interior of the car. Car owners could reverse seat cushions to show a second side with a different pattern. Much like changing your clothes from day to day, a Packard Caribbean owner could change the interior of a car for a change of pace. The reversible cushions featured quilted leather on one side, and patterned cloth on the other, both featuring the particular three-toned palette of the car.
5. 1969 GM Liquid Tire Chain
The Liquid Tire Chain Traction Dispenser was marketed for just about every GM model for the year 1969—and only for that year. Liquid Tire Chain worked on the theory that drivers could be caught unprepared in a snowstorm. By pushing a button, the driver could unleash two pressurized dispensers to spray liquid polymer on the car’s rear tires. The polymer would, it was hoped, offer greater traction in the snow. But it looks like it didn’t really do the job, and went the way of other obscure car accessories through the years. Only some 2,600 consumers purchased this accessory, and by 1970, the Liquid Tire Chain Traction Dispenser was a thing of the past.