Wednesday, May 1, 2013

One-Offs #4: The 1948 Roof-Mounted Red Trippe Spotlight

If you were 19 in 1952, the thing to add to your 1940's custom was a spotlight (or dummy spots, if you were a poseur). They mounted in front of the car door window, and came in handy if you were "spotting" deer out of season, finding your wallet after a make-out session at Perspiration Point, or "spotting" lovely ladies on the sidewalk while cruising the gut.

Here's a great example; a Gil Ayala custom doing the dirty work of push-starting a bellytank racer back in the 1950's...

But one style of spot was less "accessory" oriented, and gave off more of a "We are looking for the one-armed fugitive" vibe, and that was the Trippe Roof-Mount Spotlight.

These were definitely more industrial in design, but still had a nice art deco swag to them. The mid to late-1940's, when these came out, were a time of returning servicemen, and something with a pseudo-military feel would not have given pause to these buyers. Indeed, one of the early ads shows a casually sharp-dressed man operating the light in what hints at an everyday occurence, looking for a house number or sign...

These were almost always in the chrome with clear plexiglass lens, with a ball-handle for multi-directional use. They came unassembled, in a box, with simple directions.

The picture directions that were included also emphasized the domestic use of these lights. I think this may have been a poor judgement call. I can't imagine that there was a pent-up demand for folks wanting mega-spots on top of their brand-new Fords, but hey, I don't run a major parts business.

So here's the "One-Off" aspect of this post. I have had a couple of these lights above, and there's an NOS one on Ebay right now for $600 (ridiculous), but the real rarity is the RED one.
I've never seen one, had one, tasted one. I didn't know they were a thing, but it turns out that they did address that obvious commercial potential that I mentioned earlier. 

Yeah, the coolest job with the coolest swervy hood-light thing. They came out with this variation, same magnificent size (14" long, 5" tall at highest point, and 6" wide at widest point) but with a Judge Dredd Red Visor and top look that yells, "GET OUT OF THE WAY BEFORE THE RED LASER LIGHT DESTROYS YOUR COUPE!"

This is the light I'd love to pick up for my Green Hornet tribute coupe. Of course, I will probably never actually put together that car, except in my head, so I gather all the bits mentally, and this is one. I can see it now...

Tearing around the midnight city blocks, whipping through the slow-rising steam from the manholes, The Red Beam of Justice is piercing the cold blackness of evil.

Alright, that did it, the hunt is on. I can't fight crime without it, so this is officially now on my shopping list. How many more days until Hershey?

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