Fulton Side Shields & Traffic Light Finder - The cure and the disease.

In the old magazines, there are ads for these car visors. They're big sun shields that attach to the roof of your car like, as the ad says, a hat brim. You could get a huge one for the front of your car, but also "small" ones for the sides too. They added huge amounts of aerodynamic drag, sure, but they also did you the favor of generating the need for another Fulton product: the Fulton Traffic Light Finder.

By the time you had installed what amounts to a hat on your car, you then had the problem of vertical visibility. You couldn't see traffic lights. In 1949, it must have given people that nostalgic "I'm inside my pill box, shooting jerry" feeling, to be peering out at the world through a long horizontal slit. So, having solved the problem of sunlight and blinding the driver to everything more than eight feet off the ground, Fulton solved that problem by making the Traffic Light Finder.

"WTF is that thing?", you ask? "A Tim Burton frying pan?, you say? I say that too. It looks like maybe a mirror or something on a ball-jointed arm. It's unclear if it goes outside or inside the car, but it gets screwed to the windshield frame. Drilling into your windshield frame must have been a real hoot, never knowing if you're drilling into the edge of teh windshield or creating a leak. To the Google!

You can still buy similar products, as it turns out.

The Fulton Traffic Light Finder is a concave fisheye lens, mounted on the interior A pillar. It distorts your view so that the outside world looks smaller, bringing the traffic light into the limited view of the Fulton Sun Shield / Automotive Cowboy Hat.

It seems simpler to just have the flippy sun visor things that are now standard on all cars. Those are a simpler solution to the problem of sun glare, allowing you to get them out of the way when you want to. I don't know if cars that old enjoyed our modern sun visor technology, but I'll bet our Alert Commenters Steve Miller or Craigf know. Gentlemen...? Between sun visors and the darkened strip at the top of your windshield, we don't really have any reason to screw giant pieces of aluminum to our windshields any more. Of course, if you tale that visor off the front of your car and mount it to your trunk on stilts, you've got a wicked badass wing, which the modern retard doesn't even think to question... even though his car is a front wheel drive Celica and has never had a problem with rear wheelspin or oversteer.

The Fulton company was so convinced that everyone's car needed a hat that they made up a little slogan. "A Car Without Fulton Shields is Like a Hat Without a Brim"... or like a man without a hat, you could say. That was just as unthinkable in '49. Some men wore three or four hats at once, in case one of their other hats blew off. Nothing was more embarrassing that not having a hat. So, your car needed a hat too. But why stop at hats? How could Fulton design suspenders for your car? Or cigars for your car? Car neckties? Why didn't tires have a "wing tip" pattern embossed into them? Hmm. Missed opportunities, I say.


Steve Miller said...

Interesting question. When did cars begin to come equipped with sun visors? The earliest car of which I have clear memory was a 1950 model and it certainly had sun visors... and that would be approximately the time frame of this ad.

But if you've got a solution to sell you might have to invent the problem, too. That would explain some other popular (?) auto accessories of that era, like the eyelid thingies that covered the top half of your headlights, curb feelers, and the necker knob.*

And long before we had logo-ed pull-down sunshades to protect that baby in the back seat baby carrier (or the "Baby-on-board" signs), you could equip your windows with fixed aluminum sunscreens made of jillions of teeny-tiny louvers.

*Haven't you written about the fabled J.C. Whitney catalogs before?

PhilAreGo@gmail.com said...

Aha! I knew I could count on Steve for some historical auto insight. I looked up the necker knob, and while I knew about the steering wheel knob, I didn't know what they were called or why. Thanks for the Critical Gearhead Alert.

While retarded car accessories are by no means extinct, it's good to see that people put dumb stuff on their cars as long as there have been cars.

Thanks for commenting, Steve!


Anonymous said...

My grandpa had a sunshield from a '49 Buick in his attic, no clue if it was factory or aftermarket, though.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the information. I was at a car show today and saw one of those finders. I had no idea what it was for.

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