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

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

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It’s Friday afternoon, global productivity is coming to a screeching, sloppy halt, which means it’s an absolutely ideal time to take a moment and consider and really meditate on a few carefully-selected items from this 1974 J.C.Whitney & Co. catalog I have here. It’s a dazzling dive into an automotive world that’s now pretty much forgotten, but a world that still has the power to amaze, delight, and, yes, for much of the catalog, even bore people today. It’s the glorious, dazzling world of cars in the 1970s, when everything sucked just the right amount, and or standards were nice and low. Also, everyone was sexy and smoked while they ate cheeseburgers. Let’s explore!


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As anyone who lived in the 1970s will tell you, it was an era when bumpers needed guarding, and the brave Guards of the Bumper were these chrome vertical oblongs, faced with rubber, that were a factory option on many cars, and also wildly popular aftermarket add-ons, like these. Even though the ’70s were the era of massive, chrome, battering-ram bumpers that make today’s fussy painted plastic and sensor-laden bumpers look like absurdly fragile canapés stuck on either end of your car, it was still not enough for many people, hence bumper guards.

These mostly just kept your big chrome bumper from getting dinged or scratched. Remember, those heavy, 5mph bumpers didn’t really make the cars that much safer as much as they let insurance companies be cheapskates, because they were good about protecting fenders and grilles and lights. Anyway, what I like about this bumper guard entry is what’s in that box there, where the shout how the bumper guards PAY FOR THEMSELVES MANY TIMES OVER.

That seems like a pretty bold claim, right? Bumper guards that pay their own way? They must have a reason, right? Bitch, they got three:

  1. Save you costly front and rear repair bills
  2. Outlast the lifetime of your car
  3. Increase your car’s trade-in value

These are incredible reasons, deeply pulled ex recto. Let’s think about each of them:

  1. Save you costly front and rear repair bills: Really? I mean, I guess for really minor things, like backing into a box spring, sure.
  2. Outlast the lifetime of your car: How is this helping you? You can take them off and bring them home when you take your car to the scrapyard?
  3. Increase your car’s trade-in value: Oh yeah, I’m sure some bumper guards on your Vega will about double the price. Easy.

Let’s see what else we got here. Who likes noises? JC has you covered!


First, we have to talk about YELPING. That’s the sound you want from your car alarm, right? The same sort of sound you make when you pinch a little bit of scrotum in a zipper, during some ill-advised experiment in going commando? Or, if you lack a scrotum, perhaps the sound one makes when you accidentally almost sit on your cat? Also, the fact that the illustration uses the gerundive form, yelping, just somehow makes it even better.

Let’s talk about these horns, and how JC Whitney provides multiple equine-inspired horn sounds. What Mustang owner doesn’t long to hear their muscle car whinny, like a fancy show pony, trotting around all proud? Listen to that baby whinny, like a motherloving dressage horse!


If that’s not for you, there’s always the HEE HAW of a donkey to let everyone know you’re someone who appreciates the finer things. Like a donkey.

Also, how did these work, in the days before digital sound recording? Was the realistic “bray of a donkey” stored on a little loop of magnetic tape? A grooved record-like thing? Or just simulated with horns?

I’m a lighting fetishist, as you may recall, and JCW doesn’t forget that. Look at these incredible lighting options:


Why should Saabs have all the headlight wiper fun? They shouldn’t. What if you want headlight wipers, but you’ll be damned if you’ll do any sort of electrical work, and you also are committed to looking like an absolute loon in everything you do? They have a solution, for less than $1.50 per headlight: these propeller-like headlight wiper things, driven by the wind! They must have made your car look absolutely bonkers as it drove, with twin spinning spiral crazy eyes, wiping away grime, blocking your light or causing crazy rotating shadows as you drove. I’d kill to see these in action.


Then there’s that coach light. Who was buying those? What were they putting them on, and why? Did people, like stick one on the roof of a Chevette? Would people use these, with amber bulbs, as indicators for their Thunderbirds? I need to know! Who saw this and thought, hell yeah, that’s what my car needs?

For this one


…I have questions. Well, maybe more doubts. Because, I’m just gonna say this, I do not believe that Rolls-Royce “approved” this polish. I’m just not buying it. And that “famous mirror test”; I like how they describe the process of how a mirror works? There’s even illustrations! Of people encountering their own reflections, with amazement, like they’re birds. Remind me to reach out to Rolls-Royce PR and ask if they still use Special Formula #2 Car Polish.

Oh, J.C. Whitney. You give and give and give.




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Steve Kilpatrick
Steve Kilpatrick
3 months ago

I *loved* reading my JC Witneys catalog when I had my first car. Even ordered my first replacement stereo that my dad helped me install.

Ben Chia
Ben Chia
4 months ago

OMG I just came across this, and I literally laughed my ass off.

Ronnie D
Ronnie D
6 months ago

Folks, it looks like the JCWhitney.com website is back.

9 months ago

I do remember one time my dad ordered a complete exhaust system for a 1967 Opel Kadett Rallye from JC Whitney, and it arrived carefully folded in half.

Ever since that day, both he and I have referred to it as JC Witless.

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