The automobile industry provides one of the clearest examples of how technology and customer needs have evolved. A car from just a few decades ago would look almost completely obsolete when you compare its features with those found in a modern vehicle. Virtually every aspect has been reimagined and reinvented in one way or another.
This constant transformation has led to the end of several classic car features with some being modernized while others were completely discarded for reasons that range from safety and convenience to regulatory requirements. We dearly miss some of these features and wish they could return at least in some form, but we’re also thankful some others are gone.
Love To See Again – Pop-Up Headlights
There is something rather fascinating about watching the different ways pop-up headlights emerge. They were first introduced in the 1930s and remained a feature on vehicles, especially sports cars, until the ’90s when they started to fade away.
Though some admittedly looked goofy, it was still a well-loved feature that often made the car more endearing. It all added to the sense of drama that ensued when you did something as simple as flicking on the light switch. Stricter pedestrian safety regulations ultimately killed off this feature as the demands of modern driving evolved.
Best Forgotten – Telescoping Radio Antennae
The telescoping radio antennae was once a standard feature on motor vehicles. They generally had an average length of around 31 inches when fully extended – ideal for capturing optimum radio frequencies without sacrificing too much in the way of clarity.
However, technology soon caught up with the whip-like structure and it has morphed into much shorter forms. In many cars, It’s become a ‘shark fin’ structure that houses multiple antennae for different purposes. It is a cleaner design and less likely to get caught on low-hanging objects or worse, stolen.
Love To See Again – Switches and Buttons
Carmakers are inexorably moving towards touchscreens as the preferred interface between the driver and often complex systems that run cars today. Buttons and switch controls are fast disappearing behind glass panels and it seems only a matter of time before they slip away completely.
While the modern element greatly improves the aesthetics of the car’s interior, you can’t deny the fact that they can be quite fussy to operate compared to the simple act of just flipping a switch or pressing a button.
Best Forgotten – Vent Windows
Cars once had triangle flip-style windows built into the frame of the car. These windows could be pushed open and offered a simple but effective method of letting in fresh air or dispelling cigarette smoke from the inside of the vehicle.
By the time the ’90s rolled around though, innovations like air conditioning and ‘flow-through’ ventilation had fully taken hold and rendered the vent windows obsolete. The feature added little to the overall aesthetics of the car and maybe it’s best it remains in the past.
Love To See Again – Manual Handbrake Levers
Another victim of the ever-changing automotive technology is the manual hand brake lever. Now, the electronic parking brake is favored by carmakers, and rather than finding a lever sticking up beside the driver’s seat, you are more likely to find a small button that activates the system.
That lever, especially in small cars and high-performance machines, can deliver an insane adrenaline high when the driver yanks it upward to perform handbrake turns. It is an experience that no amount of technology can hope to match.
Best Forgotten – CD Players
In 1984, Pioneer Corporation was credited with the first-ever automobile CD player. This was about the time another company, Becker, secured a deal to supply CD players for top-end Benz S-Class models. At the time, it was hailed as the next big innovation on the automobile scene and rapidly grew in prominence.
It’s a different story today though and automobile CD Players have largely been consigned to history. That’s probably for the best. There are other more effective alternatives today that won’t scratch your songs.
Love To See Again – Car Phones
Car phones achieved peak popularity in the ’90s where they were a standard feature in the top-end luxury sedans. It was a symbol of affluence and there was nothing like casually reaching for your car phone to connect with someone on the other side of the world while sipping champagne in the rear seat of your premium automobile.
Unfortunately, this feature was quickly rendered redundant by the rise of mobile handsets. However, if we can have silly features like motorized cup holders in today’s cars then why not bring back the car phones? At least, they are sure to look way fancier than they used to be.
Best Forgotten – Hand Crank Windows
There was a time hand-crank windows were the norm; drivers and passengers would happily operate a small lever in circular motions to raise or lower the window pane. It was a rather laborious process and even though the mechanism did improve with time, nothing beats the ease and simplicity of operating a window with a single touch of a button.
By 2020, most cars had done away with this feature (except for budget-friendly cars like the Chevrolet Spark LS) and it’s not a feature that will be missed.
Love To See Again – Ignition Keys
You’d be hard-pressed to find a modern car that still has the traditional engine firing system; turning of a key to spool up the combustion cylinders. For some, that simple act is one of the highlight moments of the older cars, next to using a stick lever to work the gear ratios.
It is arguably more exciting than pushing a button – a style favored by carmakers today – except, of course, it’s a fighter jet-style button like the one in a Lamborghini.
Best Forgotten – Hood Gauges
This was an innovation that never made much sense at least as far as practicability was concerned. As the name implied, they were mounted on the hood outside the car. It undoubtedly looked cool on certain cars, especially the classic muscle cars but they also posed a serious safety risk.
First, it could obscure the driver’s view. They could be a major source of distraction for the driver if he tried to read the information displayed while driving.
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About The Author
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A simple bloke with a not-so-simple car obsession!
From Tolulope Akinshete