In law, an ‘accessory’ is a person who assists in the perpetration or commission of an offence. There are, and have been, any number of car accessories that can be considered as illegal in that they were and are totally naff. Here is an edited blacklist…
Yes, just as in the picture. Furry dice have appeared in all manner of different cars. It might have been wryly cynical to hang them off the mirror of a Ferrari but putting them in an Escort or Mini…or a Golf, Focus or Corsa? That’s just wrong.
Sports Steering Wheel Glove
Back in the last century, long before airbags appeared, it was the done thing to fit a sports steering wheel to your car. Fair enough, the factory wheel was generally a spindly thing big enough for even the feeble to use for manouevring. So, a smaller wheel with a nice fat leather rim was a desirable addition. But there was a cheap alternative, the unutterably dire sports steering wheel glove. Some of them were made of leather. That is, they were stitched up out of leather offcuts apparently from the inside legs of anorexic calves. They fell to pieces mercifully quickly.
Then there was the ‘massage’ type, which had innumerable, moulded bumps designed to ‘enhance your driving experience’. Often in black, they looked suspiciously like something that might be stocked in a sex shop. Moreover, they were desperately uncomfortable to use. And as for leopard skin steering wheel gloves? Just don’t ask.
Now for a more modern phenomenon, the hyper-stereo. We’ve all seen the cars that have massive speakers, driven by still more massive amplifiers. We’ve heard them go past and if hard of hearing, you can always tell them from the way the car’s glass pulsates to the rhythm of drum ‘n’ bass. There are, however, a couple of snags.
First, if a driver wants a sound system that can make the car’s alternator stall the engine then OK. Your choice buddy, but so is the ‘music’ and not everyone within a five-mile radius wants to hear it. Second, it’s a pity that, with the sound system often being worth more than the car itself, so many youger drivers don’t get round to paying for motor insurance.
We’ve all seen this modification. It spans decades and on occasion, had a great deal to answer for. Back in the 1970s, replacing one’s uninspiring steel wheels with big, wide alloy equivalents was the aspirational thing to do. This was fine if one got it right. Getting it wrong could simply put too much rubber on the road – on a damp day, the car would handle like a bar of soap in the bottom of a bath. And the steering would become heavier. And the car would struggle to progress in a straight line. And, unless polished hourly, the wheels would develop a coating of furry corrosion. And, and…the ands go on indefinitely.
Latterly, fashion has dictated we have huge wheels with ultra-low profile tyres. Now, if the dentist has done a good job with your fillings and you negotiate speed bumps at 0.001 mph anyway, everyhting’s fine. However, the reason why competition cars got big wheels is so that bigger brakes could be squeezed into them. There’s nothing more amusing (for the cynic) than massive wheels out of which peep tiny brakes, with discs the size of penny washers. Or worse…little drum brakes.
Long ago, when the Mini Cooper actually had more than a passing acquaintance with the legendary John Cooper, a big, sporty exhaust was the thing to have. After all, putting on an exhaust with a larger diameter was tuning, wasn’t it?
In fact, anything that encourages the gases to flow faster out of an engine increases its efficiency. However, an exhaust alone doesn’t yield extra power – other aspects have to be altered to suit. This didn’t stop there being many cars which were AFNG machines. Meaning? All F*art, No Go!
Few things change. More recently, the fashion to have a massive exhaust has developed. The snag is that for an exhaust to work, the gas flow has to be speeded up throughout the entire system. So, a big bore tailpipe – i.e. one the size of a pedal bin – may make a nice noise. But it only fools the gullible.
This final naff accessory has been around for aeons. Well perhaps not, as there are no reliable reports of go-faster stripes on a brontosaurus. However, the abovementioned gullible showed their own gullibity by fitting bogus badges. So, a standard Ford Escort was claimed to be a Mexico or even an RS, or a Cortina got to be a GT. However, the badge did nothing other than fool the foolish.
This trend experienced an upsurge in the 1980s, when turbochargers began appearing on cars. Then, every product from a lawnmower to a food mixer got the ‘turbo’ treatment. The same badging even appeared on an electric toothbrush – if an item rotated, it was called a turbo. Unsurprisingly, turbo badges got glued onto anything on four wheels, and very few of the cars concerned actually had a turbo.
Some car manufacturers weren’t blameless in the badging fiasco. Perhaps the most famously misleading was Morris, with its Marina TC. Twin cam? Sorry, just twin carburettor…and Rover was guilty of the same with the 2000TC. Later, the Subaru Justy Jem appeared with the misleading legend ‘3-Valve’. This car had three cylinders but in fact, each cylinder didn’t have just the one valve doing inlet and exhaust duties. No, the Justy in question had three valves per cylinder.
And Subaru brings us full circle. The Subaru Impreza WRX, introduced in 1992, is a fire-breathing, all wheel drive, turbocharged beast. The snag with this car (or pretenders to its crown) is simple enough to understand. Judging by certain examples, it would seem that many more ‘WRX’ badges than genuine WRX cars were produced. As is often the case, there’s nothing new under the sun.