Skip to comments.Confessions of a J. C. Whitney Abuser – The iPhone of its Time,
Posted on 06/14/2014 8:41:18 AM PDT by virgil283
"Kids: Want to know how we (once) pre-teens and teens spent the way-too-much free time we had back in the electronic dark ages of a half-century or so ago? We read books. The classics, of course, like the famous J.C. Whitney Automotive Accessory and Parts Book (J.C. deliberately called it a book in order to let us tell our parents we were indeed reading a book as though they really cared then, before the invention of helicopter parents). Now, one simply didnt read a JC W book cover-to-cover or randomly, without some higher purpose; no, we exercised our developing minds by using this book in a very specific manner, kind of like an app.
Before even opening it, you had to pick a certain make, year and model of car that, for some inexplicable reason, was of intense interest to you and no,not a new one; that didnt really work. Youd pretend that at the age of 12, you somehow had the requisite amounts of money and legitimacy to buy a used car...."
now THIS is a GREAT THREAD!!!
“(J.C. deliberately called it a book in order to let us tell our parents we were indeed reading a book”
And Shotgun News isn’t a real newspaper but it sure is fun to read.
This is weird. I was thinking this week about how much fun the J.C. Whitney catalog was when I was a kid. You could really find out what you could do with a car through that catalog and I did read it cover to cover every year.
This was in a time when any car made in Detroit could be made into a racing car. Which shows you how old I am.
JCW got so much of the little money I had especially in the mid to late ‘60’s when my family had a brand new Mustang convertible and a new VW camper van. I put JCW flower stix all over it and both the van and I became known as “Flower Power.”
The future Mrs p6 came up with that...her parents forbid her to ride in the van.
Nowhere else on eart could you buy an under-dash 8-track player for $20!
Extra speakers for another $20.
Gotta love the pride of LaSalle Illinois!
The Sears & Roebuck catalog was fun too. Toys, women’s lingerie and a bunch of other junk.
Man, those were the days. Downdraft carbs, engines bored out to bigger cubic inches, extra strong transmissions to handle the power as you raced down the strip.
Woo Hoo!I wish our kids had that these days.
Ah yes....the 8 track....my ticket out of generation X due having owned and used one.
That Bradford stereo system and my pioneer speakers...listening to Bread and Chicago and Seals and Crafts on the 8 track.....leaving Stein Stein church and ching and Cosby records on the turntable.
F-off gen X’ers....I disown you clowns!
My first real job at age 16 was working the parts counter at an auto parts store. This was before computers became prevalent, and you had racks of parts catalogs that you relied on to find what the customer wanted. I learned how to look up parts, and about different makes and models, by reading J.C. Whitney catalogs from cover to cover. Working part time at a salvage yard, and having access to Hollander manuals helped also. I still can remember part numbers and what parts would cross with what models even now.
First year I had my driver’s license I used to lust after the glass pack mufflers and headers in that catalog.
Somehow my mother didn’t share my obsession when it came to her car.
As a kid i got J.C. catalogue, a corvete club mag and spent hours drooling. Fun times!
I remember going to their Chicago store in the 1970s. Big mistake. That store had the rudest staff I'd seen — they really worked at offending their customers. I can understand why the catalog was popular; you didn't have to deal with obnoxious employees.
BTW- I don't think there was ever a time when I received my entire order (from either one of them) all at once! They were masters at using other peoples money for about a month or so, before you finally received whatever was "back ordered". (Do that on a nationwide scale, to enough people, and that $10 or $20 here and there adds up!)
That is one of the most useful and entertaining books ever written. My VW once ( well, often) exhibited bizarre behavior. It started right up but stalled as soon as I gave it any gas. Puzzled I opened up that book without much hope. Under a heading of “starts, won’t run” I was instructed to put the end of a screwdriver against the carburetor bowl and whack it moderately with a hammer. That fixed a stuck carburetor float and I was on my way.
I used that book and the JC Whitney catalogue to rebuild several VW engines.
A ball point pen stuck into the butterfly valve worked well too.
Yep! I remember those days well! J.C. Whitney catalogs gave me hours of entertainment. I even ordered items from them for some of my projects. Good memories! Anyone remember Herter’s?
I guess I went more in the geek direction. I went for the Lafayette catalogue, Radio Shack if I was slumming. Lafayette actually sold prerecorded open reel tapes!
Amen! I remember borrowing the catalogs from my dad’s side of the bedroom floor and paging through, looking at all the great parts for my non-existent Mustang.
Thanks for the great Father’s Day gift — the memory of my Dad on getting his Whitney in the mail. We knew he’d be busy for days — and want so much to share his “great finds” with my Mom, sister and I but we just didn’t get it. It’s a guy thing and a wonderful memory for me. Wish I’d shared more with him when he was here.
I’m so glad you posted that cat ad. Our neighbors had a cat like that in the rear window of their car whose eyes would glow red. I thought it was satan’s cat. Now I know it was just a fake. Wait a minute. That cat was grey.
Yea, you saved bucks on the player but spent a fortune replacing the tapes they ate............LOL!
I still have both the book and the car.
A Holley Double Pumper with two fuel lines. 650 to 1150 cfm. You had to be running a lot of revs to keep the thing from strangling on the fuel. 4.11 rear end, valve springs so tight to slam them closed fast nothing would hold them in place.
The Quadrajets had two fuel dump jets. A secondary spring picked them up when you romped on the gas and just dumped gasoline into the intake from a reservoir until the vacuum could pick up.
I tuned almost every Saturday and cleaned spark plugs, filed points, set advance springs.
I learned about engineering from vendor catalogs. They were chock full of rules of thumb, nomographs and formulae.
I remember one late summer night coming through the mountains and a long banked curve, a full tank of 18 cent gasoline, a new pickup, a blonde farm girl and KVOO on the radio. Life has never been any better than that. It was the height of Nam, we young men were anxious but we had FREEDOM!
I married the girl and still have the pickup and her.
***womens lingerie and a bunch of other junk.***
Remember when the models wore black leotards with the undies over them?
When they did away with the black leotards, I know of some moms who tore those sections out of the catalog before the kids and the Old Man saw them.
ahahahaha I underwent a very similar set of “window shopping” “buying sprees”
I still like JC Whitney “books” but I miss the Western Auto store.
I used to LOVE receiving my J.C. Whitney “book” in the mail each month!
the good old days.....
Yep, that’s the one! My cousin and I ordered a reloader and supplies for 12 gauge shot shells back when we were in our teens.
When I was in fourth through about tenth grade, I was an abuser of the Fisher Scientific catalog.
Oh, the lists I used to make from that publication...
Let’s not forget Hemmings, either.
Herter’s ...yes I spent hours huddled under the basement stairs AKA my fly tying shop lusting over feathers, fun and hooks.
I saw the name Herter’s on ammo and hope soared...only to be dashed.
Wow. I remember seeing those glowing-eye cats in cars! It was like a furry precursor to the third brake light.
I bought a copy of that book for a co-worker about 20 years ago. Don’t know if she still has the bug or not.
Thank you. As a 16 year old I probably spec’d out a couple of modified cars, that in my dreams I wanted to have, with JC Whitney.
First year I had my drivers license I used to lust after the glass pack mufflers and headers in that catalog.
I bought a complete glass pack exhaust system for my Corvair Monza...
Wasn't a neighborhood you went in lightly during the day, you sure wouldn't go in the evening!
Reminds me of the good old days. You know, when you could actually fix your car yourself without thousands of dollars in computerized diagnostic equipment!
I fell in love with the J.C. Whitney catalog in 1967 right after I bought my first car on my own, a 1965 Triumph Spitfire.
I knew when I bought it that it would need front disc pads soon, but when I checked the Triumph dealer, I found that a set of 4 pads was $32, a lot of money for me at the time.
Then someone told me about the J.C. Whitney catalog. I checked it and found a set of 4 pads for $7.98.
Figuring I had nothing to lose, I ordered a set.
When they came a couple of weeks later, I found they were Girling disc pads, made in England, the original equipment on the car.
Used the catalog regularly after that.
I used to be able to remember part numbers too... for locomotives when I worked on the railroad... but what's happened is my mind has been crammed to capacity with endless online account usernames and passwords and so these days I am lucky if I can remember what I ate for breakfast.
Memory is the second thing to go...
I was thinking back as to how years ago you ordered something from JC Whitney and were thrilled to get it 6 weeks later and sometimes the order was correct.
Now, I order stuff from Summit Racing on Thursday evening and it is sitting on my porch Saturday. Shipping that takes almost a week is disappointing. And the order is correct.
Thank you, Al Gore, for inventing the Internet!
I work for the railroad now, and at least you only have to deal with two manufacturers, and only a handful of models now. It’s only a matter of what parts they have in stock at the warehouse, and how bad you need that power to build a train.
I miss that job as much as I do not.