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Questions About Dummy Lights....

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Farrah Lane, Jul 21, 2010.

  1. Farrah Lane
    Joined: Jul 12, 2010
    Posts: 54

    Farrah Lane
    Member

    OK, bare with my "noobness" but I have a question I have ALWAYS wondered and have yet to get a straight answer about....

    So I love the way dummy lights look and will even be putting them on my customline at some point.

    I want to know what started the dummy light thing back in the day though. Were they ever real spot lights at some point? If so, what purpose did a car need a spot light back then?

    If they werent, then why did cars have them at all?

    Sorry in advance if this is a stupid question. All the more reason I need to be schooled lol
     
  2. jcmarz
    Joined: Jan 10, 2010
    Posts: 4,633

    jcmarz
    Member
    from Chino, Ca

    While I can't tell you when Dummy Spotlights came into vogue and why, I do know the purpose of real spotlights and why they were popular. Speaking from a SOCAL point of view, SOCAL wasn't always a concrete jungle with wall to wall people. Once upon a time, once you got out of the city of L.A. there was miles of open spaces with litle towns miles apart.
    We lived in La Mirada in early 60s and all around us was dairy farms or oil fields. Once you were out of the town there were no street lights and narrow 2 lane roads. So in order to view street signs or address at night (it was very dark, and you could see millions of stars. Completely different from today) people would have spotlights installed on their cars (usually 1 on the drivers side) .
    The drive-in movies used to have a game that was played using your spotlight during intermission. Bottom line, there was a real purpose for spotlights then.
     
  3. 39 All Ford
    Joined: Sep 15, 2008
    Posts: 1,531

    39 All Ford
    Member
    from Benton AR

    Damnit, I saw "questions about dummy" on the title and I thought this was a question I could answer....
     
  4. 40StudeDude
    Joined: Sep 19, 2002
    Posts: 9,447

    40StudeDude
    Member

    I believe dummy spotlights came into being because car owners got tired of having to drill thru the posts to mount them...most of the spots were always turned down so the lenses wouldn't get broken and to have a pair on a car was cool looking. I'd suspect some enterprising guy saw an opportunity to have "spots" without ruining the post, and "dummy's" came into being...

    Correct me if I'm wrong...

    R-
     

  5. 49ratfink
    Joined: Feb 8, 2004
    Posts: 18,036

    49ratfink
    Member
    from California

    they made dummies because mounting real ones involves putting a good sized hole all the way through your door or a post. for many people that would be a scary task.

    couple of sheet metal screws for a dummy.

    easy squeezy.


    EDIT: did I just repeat what 40StudeDude just said only different words?
     
  6. Farrah Lane
    Joined: Jul 12, 2010
    Posts: 54

    Farrah Lane
    Member

    Lol, yes you did, but it's ok. :) The thought was nice lol. I appreciate everyone's help! I understand a lot better now!!! I dunno why I didn't think of those reasons as possibilities before!! Thanks guys for all your help!!!!!!
     
  7. chevpickup
    Joined: Aug 25, 2009
    Posts: 196

    chevpickup
    Member
    from Australia

    kind of a related question - but at what point did people stop putting spotlights o their cars? Is having them on an early 60's car period correct? Just wondering?
     
  8. Farrah Lane
    Joined: Jul 12, 2010
    Posts: 54

    Farrah Lane
    Member

    Great question!! I'm glad you posted that here! I'm curious to know too!!
     
  9. John Denich
    Joined: Nov 20, 2005
    Posts: 2,718

    John Denich

    Alot of famous car from the late 50's to early 60's had them, Watsons Brougham and 59 had them so did his T-Bird.
     
  10. I remember reading an article written by Harry Bentley-Bradley and in his opinion if dummy spots (or real spots) are used, they should only go on cars with straight post windshields (like cars up until about 54 ish, not later model 50s cars with the wrap around windscreens). I think the article was in a Custom Rodder circa mid to late 90's, not too sure.
     
  11. chevpickup
    Joined: Aug 25, 2009
    Posts: 196

    chevpickup
    Member
    from Australia

    Yeah - something I have always wondered, I dig the look on 50's cars but you do see alot of them on 60's stuff as well. I just always wondered if people actually ran them in the early 60's still on early 60's cars.
     
  12. AAFD
    Joined: Apr 13, 2010
    Posts: 585

    AAFD
    Member
    from US of A

    I always ran dummy spots but put a license plate light in them wired to a toggle switch. When cruising at night, I would flip the switch and the dummy spots would "glow" soft white light.
     
  13. BuiltFerComfort
    Joined: Jan 24, 2007
    Posts: 1,620

    BuiltFerComfort
    Member

    Didn't working spotlights get outlawed some places - except for emergency vehicles? If someone spotlighted an oncoming car at night it wouldn't be very safe.
     
  14. 49ratfink
    Joined: Feb 8, 2004
    Posts: 18,036

    49ratfink
    Member
    from California

    you guys realize that the original magazine ads said "spotlights for dummies", then they changed it to "dummy spotlights" so they wouldn't offend anyone.

    I read that somewhere. now you did too.
     
  15. bonez
    Joined: Jul 16, 2007
    Posts: 3,492

    bonez
    Member
    from Slow lane

    This sounds pretty cool, bet you were there.
    It must have been a hell of a cool place to live.......
     
  16. It was just a TREND of the day. Just as now honda kids bolt on spoilers to their stock accords. For whatever reason kids thought they looked bad ass. also of course with kustom cars people often went accessory crazy, adding to the theme of 'posh luxury' that so many kustoms went by.


    God knows dummy spots played as much a part as real spots. Our piles of old rod mags show this with the JC Whitney ads for dummy spots all over the place.

    Yeah as others said, putting them on a car as new as '59 is a little bit of a stretch. Larry Watson RIP was for sure a fan, they were on like all his cars including the red '59 cadillac. Putting them on your damn 1969 muscle car is technically real wrong.
     
  17. haha... i saw a set on a late 60's gm today and seemed a bit out of place...
     
  18. 40fordtudor
    Joined: Jan 3, 2010
    Posts: 2,503

    40fordtudor
    Member

    I grew up in the 50's---don't remember a rod or custom without "spots".
    one of the kicks was to zero in on a fogged up car at the drive-in. Wierd.
     
  19. tommy
    Joined: Mar 3, 2001
    Posts: 14,757

    tommy
    Member Emeritus

    I think it was just an economic issue. Those original working spot lights got real pricey. The restorers wanted them and the Kustom guys too. For kustoms they were strictly decorations. I don't know when the fake ones first came out but they are listed in my 1960 Almquist catalog. 6.98 each side. Fake is very traditional.:D
     
  20. lawman
    Joined: Sep 19, 2006
    Posts: 2,665

    lawman
    Member

    I had a set on my 53 Chevy in 1960.They came from Cal-Custom.
    They were the "In" thing then.Tom ( Tired Old Man)
     
  21. Farrah Lane
    Joined: Jul 12, 2010
    Posts: 54

    Farrah Lane
    Member

    I can see how they would be outlawed for their safety factor, I really hope they weren't though. That would suck to once again have some dumb person ruin a good thing for everyone else just 'cause they thought it would be funny to shine it at oncoming cars :/ I REALLLLY hope that's not the case though.

    late 60's?? Ok, that's pushing it a bit much. Ick.

    That's a GREAT idea!!:cool:
     
  22. Leadsled RnR
    Joined: Oct 14, 2008
    Posts: 273

    Leadsled RnR
    Member
    from CO

    First car i ever drove was my parents 87 Chevy wagon. My dad always kept a spot in there that powered through the cigarette lighter. Never knew what it was for until I was headin up Woodmen one night and couldnt find my friends house. I spose I can relate in a way to the original intention of the spots.
     
  23. rustythumb
    Joined: Nov 24, 2008
    Posts: 103

    rustythumb
    Member

    in my area [south l.a. county,o.c.] appletons were out of style by the late 50's & dummies were popular from about '58-'63.
     
  24. jchav62
    Joined: Jan 30, 2007
    Posts: 1,932

    jchav62
    Member

    My first project was a '51 Chevy peecup, and that was one of the first things I ordered for it.. I always loved the look of dummies on early 50's rides... The truck now belongs to my brother and the spots are still there...
     

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  25. I took some off my merc, i can't wait to throw them out unless OP wants them. :)
     
  26. Automotive Stud
    Joined: Sep 26, 2004
    Posts: 4,171

    Automotive Stud
    Member

    I believe this is because the curved windshields in the late '50's made putting real spots on the cars impractical, or they would have to be in an odd spot for them to work properly. The spotlight look was still in, so they put dummies on instead.
     
  27. Functional spots have been around a long time. they served a different purpose depending on where and when you lived. Most of the fellas I knew used them for hunting deer at night or spotting cars on lovers lane or both. Law enfrocement agencies used them also.

    I don't know when dummies came into vogue but they have been around as long as I can remember. I think it was cheaper and they didn't require wiring or a whole in the whindshield pots.

    A lot of th fellas used to act like they were a boob or something and would hang on them. I guess that was good if the chicks didn't like your car.
     
  28. jcmarz
    Joined: Jan 10, 2010
    Posts: 4,633

    jcmarz
    Member
    from Chino, Ca

    That's like giving up on Real Women and using a blow-up doll!
     
  29. chaos10meter
    Joined: Feb 21, 2007
    Posts: 2,191

    chaos10meter
    Member
    from PA.


    Man it ain't a sled with out spots, IMHO
     
  30. Farrah Lane
    Joined: Jul 12, 2010
    Posts: 54

    Farrah Lane
    Member

    I dunno about that.... I've seen some pretty sick sleds without them. BUT I do prefer them myself :)
     
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2010

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