1986 Auto-Shade Keeps Your Car In The Cool
I started driving in the late 1980's, eventually commandeering my father's '83 Olds Cutlass Supreme for my teenage adventures (the beast lasted into my 2001 adult adventures, but that's another story). I've never been a "car guy", so never got into the auto accessories fetish, but I did have the one add-on that everyone in Chicago seemed to have in the summer of '88: the cardboard sunshade. The windshield-shaped accordion-pleated cardboard unfolds, held in place by your car's sun visors, to screen out the sun from hitting your front seat. Unfortunately the wise and omnipresent sun seldom falls for it, cooking your vinyl seats from the side windows instead. Still the Auto-Shade did help quite a bit, which makes me wonder why it's so rare to see one today. When driving around in the warm weather lately, I've been looking for them. Aside from a couple of mylar numbers I recognize from the dollar store, there were none to be found.
They were frequently freebie advertising gimmicks (a quick Google search revealed that they're still being used for marketing this way), but the design that was most popular in my neck of the woods was the car-sized sunglasses. These made your car *ahem* "cool". I didn't have this little number in my high school heyday, instead hoping to cruise by on the free one I got from Taco Bell (and yes - I still have it somewhere).
As if keeping your car just a tiny bit more hospitable weren't enough, you could also flip the Auto-Shade over to reveal a plea for help from the police. I don't know how effective it was as I mostly saw it in this configuration in error (hopefully).
I've seen other car devices that try to keep the interior cooler on summer days. A little nylon hat-shaped thing to keep the steering wheel at a human-safe temperature (never worked), a solar-powered exhaust fan that clips to the windshield (the bunk), and of course the most elaborate - a remote starter for your car that kicks on the air conditioning (no good in a beat-up Corolla that hasn't had A.C. in ten years). Unbelievable as it may seem, this cardboard relic is still my best bet of keeping my car cool this summer - and you can take that any way you want to.