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Devil’s Eye driver rings

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Photos courtesy Virginia Historical Society.

While researching an upcoming story on the Kline Kar, I found some information about the car on the Virginia Historical website. The automobiles were manufactured in Richmond, not exactly the Detroit of the South, about 2,500 were built, and only two still known to exist. One of them is on display at the Story of Virginia display at the Virginia Historical Society. Also on display in the Virginians at Work exhibit at the museum are a convertible top for a Kline Kar, some white canvas driving gloves of the same era (1920s) and a Devil’s Eye Signal Reflector Ring, which could be credited as one of the first automotive turn signal devices invented.

Made by the Devilseye Company of Lynchburg, Virginia, the oversize ring with the large “devil’s eye” stone in it would be worn over the driver’s glove, used to get the attention of another driver coming from any direction, be it to stop, or turn, or wave hello. The consensus was that the large ring would illuminate when angled towards the sun or placed in front of the headlight of another vehicle, thus making the intentions of the driver well-known. These rings would probably only be worn by the most affluent citizens and could also be perceived as a status symbol. They undoubtedly led to the cat’s eye blue lenses added to turn signals, also to increase vehicle visibility, during the 1930s and 1940s – and still seen on classic vehicles and motorcycles today.

A quick check online revealed that the example on display at the museum is fairly rare. There have only been a few made by the same company that have been sold in the last decade. We are assuming there are many still out there, but the owners are not familiar with their provenance.

Kline Kar

You will find more information about the Kline Kar and additional Virginia-built cars at the Virginia Historical Society’s Blog, or on the Virginia Historical Society’s website.