The Spare Tire Cover as Advertising Medium

The earliest surviving instances of this mode of advertising seem to be really rare. If any WU-vie can find more examples, that would be great!

Of course, nowadays you can have custom-designed spare tire covers at the drop of a hat!


Second Honeymoon (20th Century Fox, 1937). Spare Tire Cover. Throughout the thirties the studios would offer in their pressbooks what were spare tire covers that would advertise their upcoming feature. This silkscreen cover for the Tyrone Power and Loretta Young romance has elastic bands in back which allow it slip right over the tire that was always visible on the back of the automobiles of that time. Probably the theater owner, ushers, or cab companies would be paid to use these. Very interesting novelty that are often seen in pressbooks but few have survived.




Posted By: Paul - Thu Nov 05, 2020 - Comments (3)
Category: Advertising, 1930s, Cars

Carl Bohland’s Auto Wash Bowl

Carl Bohland patented the auto wash bowl in 1921. His idea was that cars would drive into a large, concrete bowl filled with water. After a couple of times around the bowl, the cars would be clean. Or, at least, cleaner.

Bohland managed to open a few auto wash bowls. The problem, however, was that his technique only really cleaned the underside of the cars. This was useful back in the days when many roads were still unpaved and their undersides constantly got filthy. But as road conditions improved, the auto wash bowl became less useful. By the 1930s, the last one had closed.

More info:

Posted By: Alex - Sun Oct 11, 2020 - Comments (5)
Category: Inventions, 1920s, Cars

The 1932 Helicron

Propellor-driven car.

Read about it here.

Posted By: Paul - Mon Oct 05, 2020 - Comments (3)
Category: Inventions, Air Travel and Airlines, 1930s, Cars

Dickens 44 Bascom, Glue Artist

Dickens 44 Bascom is a "glue artist" or "gluer" who rose to prominence in the 1960s. One of his most famous pieces was a 1961 Ford Falcon to which he glued just about everything you could imagine: a typewriter, toilet seat, toys, Donald Duck, and other "relics of our civilization". It was one of the first cars ever decorated in this fashion (perhaps the first). He used to earn money by parking it on a busy street and collecting donations from passersby.

Later he hatched a dream of building an entire castle from glued-together stuff. But, as far as I know, his castle project never came to fruition.

Pittsburgh Press - Mar 3, 1974

According to the Marin Independent Journal, Bascomb left the US in 1981 and lived abroad for almost four decades, in a kind of self-imposed exile, before returning a few years ago. As of 2018, he was living in a motel in San Rafael.

His middle name, "44", was given to him by his father because he was born 44 minutes after 4 am on the 44th day of 1944. (I'm sensing a recurring theme of artists with numbers for middle names, since we recently posted about Nancy 3. Hoffman who operates the Umbrella Cover Museum in Maine).

More info:

Posted By: Alex - Sat Oct 03, 2020 - Comments (2)
Category: Art, Outsider Art, Cars

Drive-Thru Art Exhibition

Life in the age of Covid: the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in the Netherlands has opened up a drive-thru art exhibition. Visitors can view the artworks from the comfort and safety of their car.

However, only electric vehicles are allowed in the exhibition hall. For those who don't have an electric car, there are a few available to borrow on site.

More info: Deutsche Welle

Posted By: Alex - Wed Aug 19, 2020 - Comments (5)
Category: Art, Cars

The science of removing bugs from windshields

When you clean bugs off your car's windshield, think of Detroit researcher Clark Wells who spent his career figuring out how best to do this.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch - Mar 22, 1953

The curious actions of Frederick Brownell (left) and Clark Wells at Detroit are in the interests of science. They are using pea-shooter and slingshot to shoot bugs against a windshield at squashing velocity so that Wells, a chemist, can then test fluids to be used in wiper spray to remove them. For his experiments, Wells buys such insects as bumble bees, June bugs, fish flies, deer flies and other of the more succulent species from collectors for amounts up to a dime each.

Huntsville Times - June 20, 1954

Inventor Clark Wells, of Fraser, Mich., lacked the bugs he needed to test out a windshield wiper fluid he was perfecting, so he placed a Classified Ad in a Detroit paper, soon had an adequate supply of bumblebees, June bugs and other insects.

Posted By: Alex - Sat Aug 08, 2020 - Comments (2)
Category: Insects, Science, 1950s, Cars

Drunk Driving Defense

Back in 1971, Melvin Baker offered a novel defense for why he shouldn't have been charged with drunk driving. He was, he said, too drunk to have made an intelligent decision about whether to submit to the breathalyzer test — the results of which led to him being charged. He apparently argued this case all the way up to the New York Supreme Court.

Santa Rosa Press Democrat - July 7, 1971

Details about this case are hard to come by, but this other brief article offers an explanation for why Baker persisted with his seemingly hopeless argument. Because if he had refused to take the test, he would only have had his license suspended. But having taken the test, and failed it, he also faced criminal prosecution. So it was all an elaborate, legalistic ploy to get the lighter penalty.

Long Beach Independent - Sep 7, 1971

Posted By: Alex - Thu May 14, 2020 - Comments (2)
Category: Inebriation and Intoxicants, Law, 1970s, Cars

Sneezing Protected

This is good to know in the pandemic era. I hope coughing is covered as well.


Posted By: Paul - Fri May 08, 2020 - Comments (2)
Category: Accidents, Law, 1950s, Cars

Staring Hitchhikers

Will hitchhikers get more rides if they stare at oncoming drivers or if they look away? A 1974 study published in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology attempted to answer this question:

A field experiment was conducted in which a single male, a single female, or a male-female couple attempted to hitch rides at four different traffic locations, under conditions in which the hitchhikers either stared at or looked away from oncoming drivers...
In the stare conditions, E stared at the driver of the target vehicle and attempted to fixate on the driver's gaze and maintain this gaze as long as possible until the driver either stopped his vehicle or drove on. In the comparison conditions, E looked anywhere else but at the driver. Thus, on some trials E looked in the general direction of the car; on other trials E looked at his feet, the road, the sky, etc. Es were specifically instructed to neither smile nor frown, and to maintain a casual (neither rigid nor slouching) body postural orientation while soliciting rides.

The two hitchhikers were described as, "both 20 years of age and both dressed in bluejeans and dark coats. The male had short, curly blond hair, and the female, straight, shoulder length blond hair. Both could be described as neat, collegiate, attractive in physical appearance, and of an appropriate age to be hitchhiking."

A hitchhiker in Luxembourg - Aug 1977 (source:
(not one of the hitchhikers in the study)

Staring is often interpreted as a threat. So the researchers anticipated that staring at oncoming drivers might result in fewer rides. But the opposite turned out to be true. Which is a useful tip to know if you ever need to hitchhike. But what really helped get a lot of rides was being a single female. From the study:

it seems that the effect of attempted eye contact and sex of hitchhikers were such that a staring female got the most rides and a nonstaring male the least, with a staring male and a nonstaring female in between.

Contrary to popular belief and hitchhiking folklore , it was no easier for a male-female couple to hitch a ride than a single male, and a mixed sex couple was less successful at soliciting rides than a single female hitchhiker. Although the generality of this conclusion is limited by the fact that it is based upon results obtained by one male and one female E, it is probably the case that couples are less successful hitching rides because of space limitations in the cars they approach. That is, it is more likely that the driver will have room for one additional passenger than that he will have room for two or more additional passengers in his car.

Incidentally, the experimenters never actually ever got in a car with anyone: "After a motorist stopped to pick up one of the hitchhikers, he was politely thanked and given a printed description of the nature of the experiment. No driver expressed any discomfort when he learned that the hitchhiker did not actually want a ride."

Posted By: Alex - Mon May 04, 2020 - Comments (5)
Category: Science, Experiments, Psychology, 1970s, Cars

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Alex Boese
Alex is the creator and curator of the Museum of Hoaxes. He's also the author of various weird, non-fiction, science-themed books such as Elephants on Acid and Psychedelic Apes.

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