Car accessories are getting the green light, especially in Southern California, where wheels are a way of life. By the year 2000, travel on Southern California streets, roads, and freeways will increase from 50 million personal trips daily to 65 million, according to the Automobile Club of Southern California.
With more time being spent in the car, personalizing the interior of your auto is important as well as enjoyable. Who would know more about car charisma than David Hasselhoff, star of TV's "Knight Rider"? A car buff since he was 11 (the day his dad gave him a go-cart), he's now into sports cars, restoring a classic, and he co-owns an auto racing team.
"There's a world of exciting gadgets and gimmicks that make life in the fast (or slow) lane more comfortable," he says. "Everything can be geared to your budget and needs.
"We're not talking spoilers or disc brakes, we're looking at interior accessories that make everyday driving more efficient and fun."
For instance, you can go to your local supermarket, buy a digital clock and use Velcro to stick it to the dash of your vintage pickup. Or, you can drop by an auto motoring store and order a shift knob molded to fit your hand.
Firebird as a Gift
Hasselhoff's 18th birthday gift from his dad, also an auto buff, was a Pontiac Firebird. Today, the actor drives a Porsche and a Trans Am and is restoring a classic 190 SL Mercedes, vintage 1960. He's also into auto racing, partnered with Art Groenevelt in the Race for Life Auto Racing Team. The winnings to go the Starlight Foundation and other groups that benefit youngsters who are chronically ill.
"Everyone thinks car accessories are expensive," Hasselhoff comments, "and some of the price tags will blow you away. Car mats can boast the logo of your car, your initials, or if you really want a soft touch, plant your Reeboks on mink mats."
Many accessories are readily available, others have to be ordered by mail. One such popular gadget is the dispenser that fits into the cigarette lighter. One push and a swoosh of fragrance combats the odor of smokers or pets who ride in the car.
Rack for Sunglasses
Today, Hasselhoff says, a rack for your sunglasses is available at most car accessory stores. Secured to the dash, the glasses are within easy reach, so you never need to take your eyes off the road. Or, you can be trendy and wear Porsche-design titanium glasses that come with two sets of surface-hardened, impact- and heat-resistant lenses. Only 250 sets were made. They are feather light and are available through Beverly Hills Motoring Accessories.
There are such incidentals as cups with suction attachments that stay tilt proof when driving or, for four figures, a refrigerator/freezer can be installed between bucket seats. It holds a six-pack or a sandwich and a miniature tray of ice cubes. If you want a travel fridge that also operates as a food warmer by plugging into the 12-volt cigarette lighter, Brookstone has it for $115, plus $49.95 for the AC/DC adapter.
"Some of the high-tech items are great," Hasselhoff explains, "like the Etak Navigator, a computerized system that works like an electronic map. Buy the maps for your area, and when you don't know the location, press a button and an electronic chart is on the screen directing you to the address you're hunting. Although it costs about $1,400 installed, it does stop those frantic moments when you come to a strange intersection and panic: 'Which way do I turn?' "
Not to be overlooked are the cassette holders and laser disc players. The Sony Compact Disc Player can be installed in the trunk, with the remote control on the dash, which helps make it burglar-proof.
Phones Are a Must
Car phones are also a must for the busy entrepreneur. There's now one so small you can carry it in your pocket as well as use it in the car.
The car finder is a boon to anyone forgetting where he or she parked. A miniature key-chain transmitter sends a signal to your car that briefly activates the horn and flashes the lights. There's also a key finder that has a birdlike call to let you know where you left the car keys.
Line of 'Auto Bras'
And, should you wish to save the grill of your car from rocks, birds and debris, there is an expanded line of "auto bras" that are custom-tailored to fit your car.
Not all accessories are fun and games. There are safety items, such as first-aid kits and emergency tool boards, that fit across the upper interior of the trunk. And there is a "jumper and quick test" that lets you charge your battery or analyze the electrical system of your car without raising the hood.
There's a passel of items ranging from the Alarm-On (warning intruders that your security system is on) to a glove-box organizer, from car Christmas ornaments to sheepskin steering-wheel covers and burl- or zebra-wood cassette cases.