Cup Holder for Old Car




About: I like to explore with my hands, but I trouble choosing one area of focus. I have completely renovated my house, but nothing I do is craftsman quality. I want to build an electric car, hack computer hardwa...

When I drive my Triumph Spitfire to work, I usually have a Starbucks' coffee mug that has a tight sealing mouthpiece. That's good, because it rolls around with every curve--no cup holder!

Last week, I realized I was living on borrowed time. A visit to the gas-mart left me with a paper cup of coffee with an ill fitting top that, within 100 yards of the station, was soaking into my floor.


Some readers might be old enough to remember when cars came without cup holders. Now, some minivans have as many as 13 (and probably more), but before Chrysler introduced them in the 1980s you sat with a cup in your lap (or watched your drink spill across the dashboard as you left the drive through). McDonald's proliferation of drive throughs created the demand. From this came the modern travel mug. Oh, what a different world we lived in.

For those attempting to get with the times (but stuck with an old model car), discount stores sold a host of after market solutions. My mother had a plastic travel mug that snapped into a base--a base glued to the dashboard with double sided tape. In my father's car, a Chevy Citation automatic with a (driveshaft) hump in the middle of the floor (in front of the bench seat), there was a box that you would Velcro to the carpet. The box had a small place for garbage and two cup holders. A friend's car had the same, but with sandbags on each side keeping it in place.


There were a lot of "solutions" on the Internet, but most involved after market purchases much like those above. None matched me or my car. The best solution was a small cardboard box with a hole cut in the top for the cup. It sat on the passenger seat. I was about to use this (I rarely have passengers) when I thought about just screwing a soup can to the dash. Then, I was inspired by something similar to this.

Step 1: The Holder

You could use a coat hanger, but coat hangers always look like coat hangers--and they look cheap.

Instead, I used an old clutch line. The look of the aged metal appealed to me, and line is meant to bend but retain its desired shape. If you decide on this, just go to any auto part store and buy a meter of brake line (a clutch line is the same as a brake line).

Put the end of the clutch line into a table vice--you'll need to keep it tied down while you wind the brake line around something to give it shape.

Next, use a broomstick to carefully curve the start of the line. Note the bottom of the cup holder--that curve is small and spirals out before you get to the sides--keeping the cup from dropping out of the bottom. Be careful: The line can easily crimp, causing it to lose structural integrity.

After you've spiraled out a bit, move up to a cylindrical object for a last. I used a Progresso soup can. Using your travel mug works, but then you can't put different sized cups in there (think: Supersize at McDonald's). Work the brake line around it until you run out of line. Don't worry about the vertical aspect of your work--you are creating a coiled that has not yet sprung.

Take the cylinder from inside your coil. Grab the bottom and the top of your coil and pull them apart. Your coil should now expand vertically, looking like a spring. You might tighten your coil's circumference as you go, as the brake line will need adjustment to keep it balanced between turns and narrow enough to hold your travel mug firmly. Shape it to hold the typical cup you would travel with.

Now you have the holder. Next, attached it to the car.

Step 2: Attaching It to the Car

Attaching it to the car is simple.

A line clamp bolted to the dash will do it.

I used a rubber insulated line clamp, which not only holds it up but grips the brake line and keeps it from slipping around.

My dash had a hole already cut in it for a light that I never installed. Because the hole was big, I needed to use large washers on both sides of the dash. I would recommend those washers, regardless, to keep stress off the dash--you don't want the bolt head pulling out as you turn, dumping coffee all over. The bolt I used was a 3/8 with a lock nut in the back.


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    5 Discussions


    2 years ago

    This is so hilarious, I couldn't even read the whole thing!!! Hilarious in a good way, just so you know!

    Russell iacobucci

    3 years ago

    mrbarrelhead says ; go to a ships store ( found at most marinas ) buy a gimballed cup holder . the cup always remains upright .....

    Russell iacobucci

    3 years ago

    mrbarrelhead says ; go to a ships store ( found at most marinas ) buy a gimballed cup holder . the cup always remains upright .....


    3 years ago

    looks perfect for my '70 Bronco. thanks!