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Old 08-23-2012, 10:24 AM   #1
Jive-Bomber
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Default Spotlights? Why exactly do we run 'em?



Some of you may know that the talented Keith Tardel has been doing some sweet work on my '39 Merc over the past few months. As the 'Tardel to-do' list got shorter, I remembered my nice set of Mobilit...

To read the rest of this blog entry from The Jalopy Journal, click here.
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Old 08-23-2012, 10:26 AM   #2
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Default Re: Spotlights? Why exactly do we run 'em?

I like spots on a lot of occasions, however this isn't one of them. Especially with the new chop, I think your old car is just too damned clean for em.
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Old 08-23-2012, 10:29 AM   #3
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Default Re: Spotlights? Why exactly do we run 'em?

I have no intentions of running them on my "custom" if I ever get around to working on it.... shooting for a clean simple mid 40's look.....
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Old 08-23-2012, 10:29 AM   #4
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Default Re: Spotlights? Why exactly do we run 'em?

Personally, I like them. I have an ancient set of dummies ready to go on my current project and I think on the right car they really give the period-perfect look. It's a dress-up item.

I think the overly smoothed off look is more a holdover product of the 80's and 90's monochromatic street rod days, many of which cars are being restyled traditionally today, hence all the 81 Olds tilt columns and high back bucket seats in otherwise traditional cars.
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Old 08-23-2012, 10:33 AM   #5
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Default Re: Spotlights? Why exactly do we run 'em?

I think spots make some cars look cool. Some look like diarrhea! And imo spots sometimes take away from a cars beauty.
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Old 08-23-2012, 10:40 AM   #6
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Default Re: Spotlights? Why exactly do we run 'em?

I like them but really prefer the real thing. Not a big fan of dummies. I have a set of two still new in the box. The only reason I have never installed them on one of my cars is I haven't been willing to see them "go down the road" if I sold the car they were on. I would suspect they are pretty valuable by now.

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Old 08-23-2012, 10:54 AM   #7
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Default Re: Spotlights? Why exactly do we run 'em?

You had me when you wrote "set of shiny chrome boobies bolted proudly on the A pillar" I like 'em if they're functional
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Old 08-23-2012, 11:23 AM   #8
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Default Re: Spotlights? Why exactly do we run 'em?

At the end of the day, it all comes down to opinion doesn't it? I mean, there really is no right or wrong here only preference. I choose to run Cal custom style dummies not because I'm cheap, but because that's more than likely what would be used during the period that interests me, i.e. late 50s and early 60s. That said, and taking into account that the real ones were probably never used for their intended purpose, if I was shooting for an early Fifties style I would use functional ones. I guess nothing's changed really since back in the day, you can love them or hate them, either way is traditional!
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Old 08-23-2012, 12:45 PM   #9
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Default Re: Spotlights? Why exactly do we run 'em?

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Originally Posted by Kripfink View Post
At the end of the day, it all comes down to opinion doesn't it? I mean, there really is no right or wrong here only preference. I choose to run Cal custom style dummies not because I'm cheap, but because that's more than likely what would be used during the period that interests me, i.e. late 50s and early 60s. That said, and taking into account that the real ones were probably never used for their intended purpose, if I was shooting for an early Fifties style I would use functional ones. I guess nothing's changed really since back in the day, you can love them or hate them, either way is traditional!
Paul
Right on, Paul. I'm with you. Mine are dummies, but I run em because I think they look awesome and they're proper for my desired style. If someone else doesn't like em, then too bad.
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Old 08-23-2012, 01:47 PM   #10
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Default Re: Spotlights? Why exactly do we run 'em?

When you go to the drive in's
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Old 08-23-2012, 10:35 AM   #11
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Default Re: Spotlights? Why exactly do we run 'em?

Appleton still makes electrical material. Go to any electrical wholesale house. Top quality still! .02
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Old 08-23-2012, 10:35 AM   #12
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Default Re: Spotlights? Why exactly do we run 'em?

I run them for hunting at night. But I am not a custom guy.

Some cars they look good on as though that need to be there good and on others they just look out of place. I think cars are like chicks some chicks just need to accessorize while others don't.
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Old 08-24-2012, 08:39 AM   #13
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Default Re: Spotlights? Why exactly do we run 'em?

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Originally Posted by porknbeaner View Post
I think cars are like chicks some chicks just need to accessorize while others don't.
That's fantastic! I need to remember that one...
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Old 08-24-2012, 08:57 AM   #14
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Default Re: Spotlights? Why exactly do we run 'em?

I guess I'm in the don't really get it brigade on Appletons....they're kinda clunky in my opinion and yes, they detract from the smooth lines of some otherwise cool customs.....if I wanted spots..(and owned a worthy car)..I would rather fit some of those 'ol school yellow spots that sit on the bumper...at least they are functional in a fog and don't mess with the clean lines of an otherwise smooth custom.
I never got how they moved from cop cars to customs??
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Old 08-24-2012, 09:08 AM   #15
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Default Re: Spotlights? Why exactly do we run 'em?

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I guess I'm in the don't really get it brigade on Appletons....they're kinda clunky in my opinion and yes, they detract from the smooth lines of some otherwise cool customs.....if I wanted spots..(and owned a worthy car)..I would rather fit some of those 'ol school yellow spots that sit on the bumper...at least they are functional in a fog and don't mess with the clean lines of an otherwise smooth custom.
I never got how they moved from cop cars to customs??

On some cars they make the car and on others they do not. It really depends on the car. Think of Paul's panel for instance, (Paul post us a pic of the panel for those who don't know it please), spots don't do a thing to hurt the lines of the old truck. Now if the truck was a 64 Impala instead of an old Ford panel they would look lame as hell.

One of the things that should be remembered when thinking old customs is that in the later '30s customs were cars built from cheaper models to mimic expensive cars. That was kind of the mentality of customs in the beginning. They would take an old ford of merc and throw the hottest engine that they could find it because high end cars more often than not were real runners compared to the lowly Ford. They would alter the grill with either a grill from a high end car or one that resembled a high end car, they would extend the fenders etc. The whole idea was to get the high end look on a blue collar budget.

Lots of high end cars came equipped with spot lights as well as running lights. So in the theme of making my car look and run like a Packard or the like I am going to hang a spot on it.

Later on some of the things just carried over, spots, fender skirts etc.
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Last edited by porknbeaner; 08-24-2012 at 09:27 AM.
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Old 08-23-2012, 10:38 AM   #16
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Default Re: Spotlights? Why exactly do we run 'em?

It's always seemed ironic to me that people would shave a bunch of sparkly trim off a car, then add these chrome warts back on.

I think they are pretty benign on some customs, but get in the way of the flow more often than not.
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Old 08-23-2012, 10:39 AM   #17
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Default Re: Spotlights? Why exactly do we run 'em?

I have a set of Appletons on my 41, but when I got it it had dual (miss-matched) spots on it already. I like em on most cars. To be honest I always wondered what made them so popular on early customs.
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Old 08-23-2012, 01:26 PM   #18
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Default Re: Spotlights? Why exactly do we run 'em?

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Originally Posted by Chris View Post
To be honest I always wondered what made them so popular on early customs.
Somebody already said, no doubt, but I think it was that there were fewer street lights when those cars were new and they had 6V electrical systems - thus there was less ambient light around by which to read street signs, house numbers, etc.

Edit: I just realized that's only part of the reason. Early customs supposedly emulated more-expensive cars. More-expensive cars tended to have better equipment. Since better-equipped cars in the day had spotlights for the reasons cited above, early customs incorporated them too - usually better.
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Old 08-23-2012, 02:15 PM   #19
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Default Re: Spotlights? Why exactly do we run 'em?

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Originally Posted by Bigcheese327 View Post
Somebody already said, no doubt, but I think it was that there were fewer street lights when those cars were new and they had 6V electrical systems - thus there was less ambient light around by which to read street signs, house numbers, etc.

Edit: I just realized that's only part of the reason. Early customs supposedly emulated more-expensive cars. More-expensive cars tended to have better equipment. Since better-equipped cars in the day had spotlights for the reasons cited above, early customs incorporated them too - usually better.
You hit that nail on the head. The best reply. Over here in SoCal, there was alot of open land back in the 40s and 50s and very little "lighting". So, my dad had spots (dual Unitys which looked good because it wasn't a custom but it was low with wide whites and Smittys steel packs) on his 51 Merc Convertible in order to see street names, addresses etc...........There used to be a game at the drive in during intermission where you would use the spotlight to catch this object that would move all over the movie screen.
I have a 51 A.D. which I am building bomb style and I all ready have a single Unity spot and Unity Fog Lights and I can hardly wait to hook them up.
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Old 08-23-2012, 10:46 AM   #20
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Default Re: Spotlights? Why exactly do we run 'em?

Too many cars with the 'dummie' spots spoiled the pudding, at least for me...

Appletons were the real deal, and I was aware of them on the 'better' cars since 1953.

When the dummies came out, (1957? '58?) Cal Custom sold a lot of them. (I liked their profile, but never used 'em...they weren't Appletons)
Every 'mild custom' to high school kid's stocker had 'em, and guys screwed 'em on fenders, hoods, and everywhere else in the broad area surrounding the 'A' pillars!

It was one of the early Lodi runs that I saw 3 'Kustoms', two of them had original Appletons. Then they came back out of the woodwork...
But they don't belong on everything. Some smooth chopped classics can get 'gooked-up', as Von Dutch used to say.
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