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The Right Touch

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Originally Published: 3/1/2001

Little details make a big difference in the showroom.

The car was a 1956 Chevrolet, a 2-door post, with a custom interior and all-black exterior. Even the chrome had been blacked out, and the wheels were old-style, expensive ET mags with dull gray spokes and chrome centers.

A beautiful car, but something about it "just didn’t quite work."

You hear that phrase quite a bit at collector car auctions, to describe cars that are nice, perhaps immaculate, but need a certain something.

And Mitch Silver, president of Silver Auctions, says a few well chosen accessories or add-ons can make a big difference when it comes to selling a car.

In the case of that 1956 Chevy, Mitch says it was just too dark. His suggestions:

  1. Try a set of chromier, sportier mags to bring out the black paint.

  2. Consider a set of bright blue flames, in decal or paint, along the sides, to break up the flat slabs and create a focal point for the eyes.
In older cars, especially (from the ‘50s or before), accessories can help add excitement. Some ideas:
  • Windshield visors, particularly for those ‘50s sedans. In a similar vein: fender skirts; dual spotlights with rear view mirrors; big, gaudy chrome bumper guards; Continental kits.

  • Curb feelers (chrome, of course), especially on big cars.

  • A chrome tissue dispenser customized with the make of the car.

  • A dashboard prism (essential on cars with visors) so you can see traffic lights in the reflection.

  • Chrome gas cap guards.

  • "Necker knobs." For you young whippersnappers out there, a necker knob is a knob mounted on the steering wheel rim that allows the car to be steered, more or less, with one hand. This allowed your other hand to wander over towards the person in the seat next to you. (By the way, these knobs may be illegal in some areas, though it should be relatively easy to talk your way out of a ticket.)
Truly different accessories can really start buyers buzzing about a car. It’s possible to find, for example, evaporative air conditioners, used in the ‘50s, that were hung out of a window (yes, they did work, sort of). They’re a couple of hundred dollars, but always draw crowds.

In a similar vein, if you’ve got an old car with lap robe rails, buy a nice blanket for them. If your car has a trunk rack on the rear bumper, buy a nice trunk for it.

In most cases, of course, stock is good. But it’s not always perfect. Silver Auctions once had a very nice late ‘60s Boss Mustang with stock wheels. Unfortunately, they were ugly stock wheels – chrome center rings with the painted wheel showing around the perimeter.

A set of inexpensive chrome wheels helped that car stand out (and we left the originals in the trunk so the new owner would have them too).

Another often overlooked accessory, particularly with cars that have been repainted is pinstripes. They can range from subtle to gaudy, but are an inexpensive way to make a car stand out. (At Silver Auctions, by the way, we recommend using a professional; amateur pin striping can easily make a car look worse, not better.)

Tastefully chosen accessories can truly add appeal to your car; that means more buyers, more bidders… and more money in your pocket when your car goes on the auction block.


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