- The Washington Times - Friday, December 14, 2001

Each fall the automotive aftermarket debuts new products in Las Vegas at its annual trade-only industry showcase.

More than 80,000 visitors attended the concurrent Automotive Aftermarket Products Expo and the Specialty Equipment Market Association Show, held Oct. 30 through Nov. 2, 2001.

The aftermarket shows usually take place during Halloween, which means I miss my children's annual candy harvest. However, Dad brought his own goodie bag, minus the costume, to Las Vegas, looking for interesting new "treats" consumers will want to purchase to "trick out" their vehicles. In Vegas lingo, here are my "lucky seven" most interesting aftermarket products from this year's shows. They will be coming soon to a catalog, store, or Web site near you.

Give Texas Saddlebags Inc. (TSI) credit for the most provocative new product name: Wedgie. It is a drink holder ideal for a vehicle with a split-bench seat. The Wedgie fits most vehicles by wedging between seat(s) and console. As a bonus, TSI says you can use the Wedgie as a "couch caddy" for your sofa at home. Get your own Wedgie at Wal-Mart or Meijer for $5.99. For more information, contact TSI at 800/521-2997, or visit www.saddlebags.com.

Safe T Cables are the only booster cables on the market that cannot be hooked up backward. The cables' Advanced Polarity Switching technology allows you to hook up the clamps either way and safely jump-start a vehicle without damaging its computer or electrical system. Suggested price is $59.95 to $69.95. Contact Cyclo Manufacturing at 303/744-8043 for availability.

Rear-window brake lights are commonplace in today's vehicles, but a new product, "Intellibrake," takes this warning system one step further. This brake light shows drivers following you whether you are slowing down, stopping, or emergency braking. Intellibrake is mounted in the rear window. Providing a clear, intuitive signal to trailing drivers, its illuminated area increases in length, from the center outward, as the force applied to the brake pedal increases.

Intellibrake fits almost all cars, sport utility vehicles and light trucks. Product debut is set for January 2002 at a price of $99. Professional installation is extra, bringing the total price to around $150. Contact Intellibrake at 866/BRAKE-12 for availability.

RM Enterprises has introduced an innovative home carwash and wax system. Spongetech is a washing sponge with carwash and carnauba wax built in. The company boasts that a car or light truck can be washed and waxed in less than 30 minutes, and that each sponge will provide enough wash and wax to clean eight or more cars. Included with the SpongeTech Care System is a detail sponge with a built-in all-purpose cleaner and a high-tech chamois. A complete SpongeTech kit sells for $19.99. Contact RSI Enterprises at 40 East 34th Street, New York, N.Y. 10016, phone 212/481-3510, or fax 212/481-5437.

It's irritating when your briefcase, papers and everything else you throw on the passenger seat go sliding every time you turn a corner or hit the brakes. Fortunately, the StufStop acts like a seat belt for your stuff. The neoprene-style fabric restraint fits any bucket seat and secures around the back with Velcro. The company says that, unlike many organizer options, StufStop doesn't have to be removed when a passenger climbs aboard. Someone can sit comfortably in a seat with it in place. It's manufactured by the Travel Play Company. Visit www.travelplay-co.com for more information. Suggested price is $22.95.

NASCAR fans on your holiday shopping list? Fantenna is a new antenna from AllStar Sportsline that displays a Winston Cup racer's number in the same style as it appears on his or her car. The company says that many NASCAR team members have installed preproduction units on their own vehicles. Fantenna sells for $24.95 and can be purchased online at www.allstarspi.com.

Aviation Upgrade Technology showed a nifty and economical product called Air Alert Valve Cap. Just install one valve stem cap on each tire, and it will blink if a tire gets more than four pounds low. At $9.99 for a set of four, this product is a great way to insure that proper tire air pressure is maintained.

The product is expected to debut sometime in the first quarter of 2002. Visit www.aviationupgrade.com for more information.

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