Home » It’s Time For Another Tour Of Weird Crap From A ’70s JC Whitney Catalog

It’s Time For Another Tour Of Weird Crap From A ’70s JC Whitney Catalog

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This is a bit of insider information, but JC Whitney reached out to us recently, and I’ll be honest, that kind of felt like Cap’n Horatio Magellan Crunch reaching out, a near-mythical figure from your childhood that you sort of thought was gone. But they’re not gone! They’re still around, but they’re much more rational now, with a lot less of that old ’70s madness that I’ve showed you a few times before. But I still have some old catalogs, which means there’s still madness that needs sharing, so let’s all just calm down and do what needs to be done! Let’s look at some weird JC Whitney crap from 1974!

First, we should note that the 1970s was, when it comes to floors, the shaggiest era known to humankind. Much like the groins and chests of the people of the era, floors found themselves pelted with rich, shaggy fur, and humans adapted to this to such a degree that it was practically a medical requirement that vehicles like cars must have at least the option to have their floors slathered in shag.

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That’s why we ended up with stuff like this, “CLOUD-SOFT FUR-LIKE AUTO CARPETS”essentially throw rugs for your car:

Furlike

Why risk your feet touching some sort of miserable low-cut pile carpet or. god forbid, rubber or metal? It’s just not worth the likely subsequent hospital stays at the podiatry wing, with emergency podiatrists applying carefully sterilized bits of shag to the soles of your feet. Get a car throw rug.

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JC Whitney catalogs always had great selections for imported cars, and I like the variety of cars they used to identify the not-from-here car pages:

Imports

So, from top down, we have a Volvo P1800, a Toyota Corona, a Jaguar E-Type, a Mercedes-Benz W110 fintail, and I included a VW Type 3 Squareback, mostly to show that the catalog’s extensive Volkswagen section didn’t only have little line art of Beetles.

Who likes danger? JC has something just for you!

Leftfooraccel

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Yes, a “left foot” accelerator kit! I think this was a sort of cheapskate’s alternative to cruise control, so if your foot got tired on a long drive, you could just, you know, switch feet, which gave your right foot a chance to rest and a great opportunity to experience some real exciting “pedal confusion” should an emergency crop up!

Imagine smacking a second accelerator when you just wanted to hit the clutch! Or, even better, the brake! That’s what keeps driving fun!

Noveltytails

It’s time for taillights! Motorcycle taillights, and what I like about these three options is how they somehow manage to capture the full spectrum of ’70s motorcyle owners: the peace sign covers the hippies, the star-spangled number one gets your mainstream, good American patriots, and the “maltese cross” (it’s really more of an Iron Cross, which, I’ve learned, isn’t necessarily anti-semitic, so as long as you don’t sharpie a swastika on there, we’re good) to get the more outlaw end of the market.

Between these three options, there should be a novelty taillight for just about every biker, whatever their outlook on life!

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So, these are fascinating:

Pipeorgan

They’re just crappy stereo speakers, but they have that pipe organ-like cover on top. I don’t think these provided any real acoustic benefit, but when it comes to adding just the right amount of ecclesiastical influence to your car’s interior, these are hard to beat.

Holy crap, you can still get these today! I bet these would really class up some boring modern crossover, like a Honda CR-V or Toyota RAV4. Especially right on the dash speakers.

Speaking of dashboards, I find this kind of amazing:

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Superbeetle Dash

See what’s going on here? So, in 1973, the VW Super Beetle was updated to have a curved windshield and a deeper dashboard (pictured above, below the catalog clipping), much like what one would find in a “real” car. For VW geeks that had known Beetles to have flat windshields and flat, panel-like dashboards since 1938, this was a revelation, and I imagine some Beetle owners found themselves positively intoxicated by the promise of all this revealed interior volume.

But what to do with it? Well, I guess if you’re suitably intoxicated, the idea of ordering some little fences to enclose the upper dash so you can throw crap like cigarette packs and sandwiches and Ray Bradbury paperbacks must have seemed like a pretty hot idea, all for under $5 bucks!

I’ve never seen a Beetle with these stuck on it; I wonder how well they actually worked?

Tachspeaker

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How can you make a round speaker seem cooler? Easy! They’re tach style now! Not just round and stuck on top of your dash, clumsily! That’s tach style! Like a tachometer! But a speaker!

So, this product is notable because I had these for my high school car, a ’71 Super Beetle:

Terryseats

They were absolute garbage. I had black terrycloth covers, and when you think terrycloth, you think towels, which seems like it’d be an okay seat cover. But you’re thinking something towel thickness; these were thinner than any towel you’ve ever seen, even towels from the crappiest motel you’ve ever stayed in. I think they isolated terrycloth down to its molecular structure and made seat covers precisely one terrycloth molecule thick.

I think these came with a warning not to tear them because if you tear it more than twice, you’re in danger of actually ripping individual atoms in half and causing nuclear fission to occur.

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These were crap. $3.98 was a rip-off.

I wonder if this post if going to hurt or help a potential deal with JC Whitney?

 

Relatedbar

What If They Made Those Fake Rolls-Royce Grilles For Other Cars Like Porsches And Teslas?

Old J.C. Whitney Catalogs Are Full Of So Many Bonkers Things So Let’s Look At Some

Here’s A Look At The Incredible Car Accessories That 1970s Blaxploitation Movie ‘Super Fly’ Inspired

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Collegiate Autodidact
Collegiate Autodidact
3 months ago

“I think this was a sort of cheapskate’s alternative to cruise control”
How’s this for even more cheapskate? In the 50s and 60s some people driving their VW Beetles through the American Southwest would mash the accelerator pedal to the floor and wedge a stick between the accelerator pedal and the driver’s seat as an ersatz form of cruise control (since many air-cooled engines such as the ones used in VWs and Citroën 2CVs are famously capable of running all day at top speed.) Not surprisingly a common term for such a device was “suicide stick.”

Mr. Canoehead
Mr. Canoehead
3 months ago

Friends who took VW vans on the highway used to claim that they put a brick on the accelerator. I’m not sure how true it was but it would probably be even worse than the stick to have a loose brick under your brake pedal.

David Escargot
David Escargot
3 months ago

A 1996-2006 mitsubishi triton with the diesel has a little idle up knob that operates much the same as a choke… it also has the capacity to run it at full power… talk about a throttle stick if you try cruise with it… if you floor it the pedal will stay swung up and in an emergency it can be quite scary not knowing why you are at full throttle

Hugh Crawford
Hugh Crawford
3 months ago

I purchased a top for my Malibu convertible from JC Whitney. They had a good , better, best selection. I went for better. It outlasted the factory top by ten years, parked outside.
Of course when I removed the shredded original top there was a freak snow storm that left me with a car with a foot of snow in it on April 15. I had to drive 8 miles into town to drop my taxes off at the post office with only the driver seat dug out. There was a coin operated steam cleaning wand at the truck stop that I used on the interior. A woman at the diner came out and took a picture. It was on the wall next to the cash register for years.

OCS-BN
OCS-BN
3 months ago
Reply to  Hugh Crawford

Excellent. But did you learn your lesson and finished your tax papers ahead of time from then on?

Millermatic
Millermatic
3 months ago

I love the absurdity of the “left foot accelerator”… but I’m pretty sure I can use my left foot to use the regular “right foot” accelerator.

Cuzn Ed
Cuzn Ed
3 months ago
Reply to  Millermatic

I had a friend in high school who broke his right leg. Plaster cast literally from the hip to the ankle for like 8 weeks.
He slid it over as far left as he could, reached over it with his left, and drove himself everywhere.
It was inspiring and terrifying in equal measure.

Millermatic
Millermatic
3 months ago

“I wonder if this post if going to hurt or help a potential deal with JC Whitney?”

If they’re smart… help. Because after reading this I’m going to go look at the current catalog.

Update… It’s boring.

Last edited 3 months ago by Millermatic
Mpphoto
Mpphoto
3 months ago
Reply to  Millermatic

There is an interesting article called “JC Whitney: The Rise and Fall of an Automotive Icon” on Curbside Classic. It looks like the JC Whitney of today is distantly related to the original, with the brand having changed hands a few times.

Matt Dieter
Matt Dieter
3 months ago
Reply to  Mpphoto

Curbside is an amazing website. Love digging through their archives.

Matt DeCraene
Matt DeCraene
3 months ago

I bought a replacement top for a 92 LeBaron from JC Whitney in the late 90s. I recall it being reasonably inexpensive but easy to install and functional. LeBaron s always got top tears over the windows.

Marty
Marty
3 months ago

Ahh! the days of ordering from JCW. We lived about 150 miles from Chicago, but it still took 2 weeks for your order to arrive. Most of it was questionable, but it was a source for cheap maintenance parts like plugs/points/brake shoes, etc. My dad and I always had a second or third project car. I considered it my college education…

JerryLH3
JerryLH3
3 months ago

Odds that those current pipe organ speaker covers are just leftovers from the 1970s? I feel like it is a non-zero chance.

StillNotATony
StillNotATony
3 months ago
Reply to  JerryLH3

They would look perfect in any hearse!

Jimal
Jimal
3 months ago

I can’t remember which company it was, because I haven’t found a copy since my older brother got them as a kid, but one of the racing equipment suppliers, possibly Jeg’s or Summit, used to put out a catalog that one one side was speed parts and accessories, and the other side was page after page of the most stereotypical 70s themed t-shirts. There might have been other items, but the grid of “If This Van’s a Rockin’…” or “Ass, Gas, or Grass. Nobody Rides For Free” designs are what I remember.

Scoutdude
Scoutdude
3 months ago

When I think of JC Whitney the Pipe Organ Speakers are the first thing that comes to mind, followed by Winky.

Geoff Buchholz
Geoff Buchholz
3 months ago
Reply to  Scoutdude

OMG Winky! I remember that!

Also, I don’t remember this from when I used to get the JCW catalog as a kid, but those organ pipe speakers were finished in CHROME!? Just thinking about the glare is giving me a headache.

Alan Christensen
Alan Christensen
3 months ago

It had never occurred to me a Valiant and Charger used the same floor pan. Or was it that the shag was one-size-sorta-fits-all-whadda-ya-expect-fer-15-bucks sized?

Lew Schiller
Lew Schiller
3 months ago

In the early 80’s my wife and I had a company that made a tire repair tool that facilitated the removal and replacement of a valve stem in a wheel without dismounting the tire. One of our claims to fame was that it got into the JCW catalog.

RustHoles
RustHoles
3 months ago
Reply to  Lew Schiller

More info?

Lew Schiller
Lew Schiller
3 months ago
Reply to  RustHoles

Don’t have anything about it close at hand. We called it Stem Gem. Basically it’s an injection molded conical tube that came with a handle that had an internally threaded end sized to fit a valve stem. The handle was used first to pull the stem out (the part inside the wheel remained there) then a new stem was threaded into it. The tube was lubricated and the new stem inserted. All it really took was an enthusiastic pop with the palm of the hand to effect insertion. Then you pulled it back to seat it and removed the handle.

CarlosMachina
CarlosMachina
3 months ago

I note that the shaggy van carpeting is “latex-impregnated.”

Cam.man67
Cam.man67
3 months ago
Reply to  CarlosMachina

Or sheepskin, if that’s your thing.

Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
3 months ago
Reply to  Cam.man67

Hopefully not impregnated

BentleyBoy
BentleyBoy
3 months ago

Ewe

Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
3 months ago
Reply to  BentleyBoy

I feel sheepish having made that pun

Cerberus
Cerberus
3 months ago

I used to drive an Econoline in heavy traffic with my right foot on the engine cover and driving with my left. Maybe I’m foot ambidextrous as I had no issue adapting, confusing pedals, etc., but I would think that was because the positions of the pedals didn’t change. I feel like that remote pedal would make it much more likely to confuse things.

Jimal
Jimal
3 months ago
Reply to  Cerberus

The classic racing school instructor move is to sit sideways in the driver seat of your 11-passenger van, and work the pedals with your left foot while you face your 10 middle-aged or middle-teen students to talk them through a lap of the track while clipping apexes at speed.

Bracq P
Bracq P
3 months ago

Pretty sure it is a W111 series with the gothic cathedral shaped headlights, the W110 would have small round ones.

Andy Berkvam
Andy Berkvam
3 months ago

A college roommate of mine had polio as a kid. His right leg was stunted and he wore a brace on it. He had some old econobox car (80s Escort?) that I would sometimes borrow. Yup, it had one of those “left foot accelerator” rigs so he could drive the car. Looked like the one in the catalog and worked as described. I’d sometimes use my left foot to accelerate, just to see what it was like, but I usually just flipped it down out of the way.

Inthemikelane
Inthemikelane
3 months ago

Lord I wasted a lot of time & money as a broke teenager in the 70s going through these catalogs and buying things to “improve” the broken down ’68 VW Fastback I was given that sat in a field for the better of a decade. Nothing was ever what you would think it would be (junk mostly), but so fun going through the catalog. Only purchase I regret not making is getting an Aahooga horn. Thanks for the article!

Lardo
Lardo
3 months ago
Reply to  Inthemikelane
H4llelujah
H4llelujah
3 months ago

…….I REALLY NEED those pipe organ speakers.

Sam I am
Sam I am
3 months ago

I got my driver’s license in 1977 and spent a lot of time checking out the JC Whitney catalogs. It all seemed like perfectly normal stuff at the time. I got a sweet set of baby moon hubcaps for my ’67 Galaxie from them.

Last edited 3 months ago by Sam I am
Jack Trade
Jack Trade
3 months ago

Am I the only one who wants to know why JC Whitney reached out, what they (he?) said?

Was it “stop making fun of us in your, er, internet catalog?!

Shooting Brake
Shooting Brake
3 months ago

The Terry Cloth seat covers were a must have for swimmers! No need to towel dry yourself off after a swim, just haul your ass to the car and roll around on your seat covers!

ヘ(`▽´*)

The 1970’s were an interesting time! 😉

Last edited 3 months ago by Shooting Brake
OverlandingSprinter
OverlandingSprinter
3 months ago

I would love to hear from someone in the JC Whitney art department who put these catalogs together. Did they hire dedicated copywriters or did 100% of the copy come from the manufacturers? The typesetting must have been a nightmare. List acquisition must have been interesting, too.

Last edited 3 months ago by OverlandingSprinter
Joe The Drummer
Joe The Drummer
3 months ago

I’m disappointed Torch hasn’t spent much time discussing the amazing clip art alone. That was one of my favorite things about the wacky old JCW catalog – it had a 50s/early 60s ad aesthetic well into the 1990s. Some of the ads for universal products were the best, like the “before and after” illustration of a weight distributing hitch featuring a 60s Chrysler New Yorker towing an Airstream.

Phantom Pedal Syndrome
Phantom Pedal Syndrome
3 months ago

“Yes, a left foot accelerator kit! I think this was a sort of cheapskate’s alternative to cruise control, so if your foot got tired on a long drive, you could just, you know, switch feet, which gave your right foot a chance to rest and a great opportunity to experience some real exciting pedal confusion should an emergency crop up!

Imagine smacking a second accelerator when you just wanted to hit the clutch! Or, even better, the brake! That’s what keeps driving fun!”

Finally someone here understands my username.

TOSSABL
TOSSABL
3 months ago

Damnit, Torch: now I want a Studebaker Lark with Cloud-Soft Deluxe Throw-Carpets!

Joe The Drummer
Joe The Drummer
3 months ago
Reply to  TOSSABL

You didn’t already?

TOSSABL
TOSSABL
3 months ago

Well, yeah, but only sort of idly—like how everyone wants a Lada Niva, you know? But, these carpets…

Canopysaurus
Canopysaurus
3 months ago

A college roommate had those pipe organ speakers in his ‘72 Malibu. I don’t know that they sounded any worse than my Radio Shack specials, but definitely not better. They also created great blind spots and frequently collected candy wrappers and cigarette butts from back seat slobs.

Last edited 3 months ago by Canopysaurus
WaxhawFive
WaxhawFive
3 months ago

I loved pouring through this catalog as a kid.

Shooting Brake
Shooting Brake
3 months ago
Reply to  WaxhawFive

Me too!!!

Lew Schiller
Lew Schiller
3 months ago
Reply to  WaxhawFive

This and “Honest Charlie” “Don’t have? Can Get!”

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