Aftermarket Turn Signals and Brake Lights from the 20's and 30's.
September 29, 2006 5:44 PM   Subscribe

In the 20's and 30's automobiles did not come with turn signals or brake lights. Accessorizing 1920's style!
posted by snsranch (13 comments total)
For you snarky nit-pickers: via Boing Boing.
posted by snsranch at 5:45 PM on September 29, 2006

Wow, those are some fantastic designs.
posted by smackfu at 5:56 PM on September 29, 2006

Old enough to recall that folks seldom went out at night and thus turn signals needed during daylight and thus hand signals did the job. Most towns had no stop lights at night either but usually red flashing as bad people are out. The good people stay home and watch Lou Dobbs ranting against immigrants sneaking into America or O"Reilly foaming at the mouth about how all America is going to hellbecause not everyone believes as he does.
posted by Postroad at 6:20 PM on September 29, 2006

my grandfather had a 1948 Bentley (in nowhere near such condition) which had little arms that'd pop out when taking a turn. I always wondered why they'd stopped making them. Besides being cool as shit, they got your attention, because something just popped out of the car in front of you.
posted by Busithoth at 6:23 PM on September 29, 2006

Busithoth, that reminds me of semaphores on old VWs.
posted by snsranch at 6:32 PM on September 29, 2006

that's pretty much exactly what they looked like.
nice! I couldn't find a pic of one online, thanks!

I'd love to rig one of those real 'stop lights' from the OPP on my motorcycle, except it'd get ripped off (literally) in no time.
posted by Busithoth at 6:44 PM on September 29, 2006

Beautiful stuff from the dawn of industrial design.
posted by lekvar at 6:44 PM on September 29, 2006

This one reminds me of the giant crystal that disintegrated people in the movie Atlantis, the Lost Continent.
posted by iconomy at 7:03 PM on September 29, 2006

This reminds me of Gasoline Alley as it once was. Early Gasoline Alley is one of the classic American comic strips, focusing on the day-to-day life of a small group of Wisconsin car hobbyists.

One of the strips great charms is that the artist, Frank King, drew in all sorts of little touches that reflect what life was like in, say, 1921. This means that we get to see the characters adding these aftermarket options. We get to see them encounter early traffic signals.

At home, we get to watch technology advance. In one sequence, the main character (Walt Wallet) gets a radio. He's an early adopter, and invites his friends over to take turns listening at the headphones. There's not much to hear. Later in the strip, he buys a "loudspeaker", so that everyone can listen at once. Or — in a strip from 1921 we get to watch Walt lighting his wall-mounted gaslights at night. But by 1923 he has an electric lamp on his reading table. I love this stuff.

If you're interested in old car culture, check out the current collection of Gasoline Alley reprints. These are being published as Walt & Skeezix (the names of the two main characters), and the first two volumes are now in print. I recommend them highly. They're better than Little Nemo, better than Peanuts, better than almost any other comic strip I've ever read. And they have tons of old car stuff.
posted by jdroth at 8:10 PM on September 29, 2006

One of my relatives (forget exactly which one at the moment) held the patent for the turn signal until he couldn't afford to renew at which point Ford snapped it up. Seems to happen a lot in our branch of the tree... Ah well...
posted by susanbeeswax at 11:08 PM on September 29, 2006

Hey, jdroth, that sounds fascinating. Got a recommended link to save me googling through thousands of results for it?
posted by imperium at 2:31 AM on September 30, 2006

I'm from Boston. What's a turn signal?
posted by Gungho at 5:13 AM on September 30, 2006

imperium, here's the Amazon link to the first volume. Here's a directory containing images I scanned from that volume. (The strips are from 1921, and should be public domain.)
posted by jdroth at 8:30 AM on September 30, 2006

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