Cars have undergone incredible transformations over the years. From the types of engines that we use, from no airbags to one airbag to an insane amount of airbags. We can’t discount how far we’ve come in tech. From no radio to the infamous 8-track to the CD player to having an Ipad glued to your dash and to know where we’re going, we need to know where we came from. So, I’ve come up with 9 quirks and features that are either extinct or on the brink of extinction, think of them as being on the endangered ‘species’ list.
Have you ever sat there and wondered about the length of a car antenna? I mean the bigger the better, right? Better signal that is and the old antennas which were essentially metal rods would sometimes break. But no worries because a simple hack of just shoving a coat hanger into the slot would do the trick. Believe it or not, that hack actually works. In the olden days, radio antennas came out of the side in middle portion of a car. Back then radio was really the only thing that you had to entertain yourself in the car. That’s why there were metal antennas.
But, ever since the introduction of the CD player, USB inputs, and just straight-up bluetooth, barely anybody listens to the radio anymore. Cars nowadays have those little shark fin antennas that you see on BMWs or they have no antenna at all. It’s actually built into the windshield. When the television came out, people didn’t really listen to the radio anymore in their homes. Since your car nowadays is a multi-purpose media extravaganza, you need way more than just a metal antenna to grab all of those different frequencies. So that big metal antenna is extinct.
Hand Cranked Windows
Manual crank windows were fine and all but how are you supposed to open your passenger door window, going down the freeway at 70 miles an hour without, like, hitting something. Believe it or not, crank windows technology were actually invented in 1948.
For decades they were all the rage but rather recently they started getting replaced by electric windows which with very little effort you can raise or lower. I think nobody misses them, except for those people that always leave their window down. Turn off the car and then you got to restart the car to put up the window. Other than that, no one misses up, nobody!
Ashtrays and Lighters
I remember growing up in their ashtrays even in the back of the car. Nowadays, they aren’t even offered with brand new cars. From the 50s all the way to the 80s, it seemed like everyone was smoking in the car. Ashtrays were mounted on the doors, the dash, to the seatbacks, and the armrests. They were literally everywhere.
If you didn’t smoke, then you found the ashtrays useful for storing your coins. Not only did manufacturers get rid of the ashtrays but also the cigarette lighters as well. Instead of plugging in your phone charger to your cigarette lighter, it made more sense to just put a USB port there anyways.
Do you know that really awkward space between the windshield pillar and the moveable window itself? Back in the day there was this small hinged window that opened for ventilation, what was so awesome is that just like your main window, this one could be opened independently. While you’re cruising down the freeway, you could open this in a circulate air throughout the cabin. Not only did they have functionality, but I think they look extremely badass, especially on the 68 California Special.
Unfortunately, once air conditioning was introduced, this triangular piece of glass component pretty much went extinct. One of the best things about these hinge windows and I may be speaking from experience because when I locked the keys in the Mustang, I was able to open up the window, slide my hand through, get to the lock, unlock it, which made it for easy access. But, that’s the problem is that it was easy access for me and other people. Regardless vented windows, you are dearly missed.
Nowadays, cockpits or interiors are built around safety with modern-day bucket seats and seat belts. But, that used to not always be the case because early on bench seats were fitted without any seat belts. You could easily squeeze 3 or maybe even 4people into the front row. The reason that bench seats were all the rage early on, it was because you could accommodate a few more passengers.
Things quickly changed. Once bucket seats were introduced, it was game over! Not only did they look sporty-er, add more storage options, but it left room for a floor-mounted shifter and customer preferences began to shift, towards bucket seats and manufacturers had to drop bench seats in their favor.
Full Size Speedometers
Until rather recently, cars came with full-size spares. Personally I feel like it’s a feature that almost all of us would want. As of late, that’s all changed. Most manufacturers now offer limited use spare tires also known as a doughnut to essentially save space. Believe it or not, on a lot of sports cars and high-end cars they don’t even offer a spare tire at all. Nobody gets excited to extract a dirty spare tire from under their ex-girlfriends car and then use this unfamiliar jacking system to swap out the wheels.
Manufacturers say that the main reason that they’ve gotten rid of full-size spares is to reduce total costs and lower the weight of the vehicle. There are a few rigs that come with full-size spares. Off the top of my head, the Jeep Wrangler! That thing looks so sick but there’s just something so comforting about knowing that if your car has a full sized spare, you’re always gonna be able to make it home, without one a simple flat can be a whole-day or deal.
85 Mph Speedometers
To think that I’m going to put a speedometer on your car that’s limited to 85 miles per hour, you’d probably laugh at me. Back in the 70s, that was actually reality. The nationwide speed limit was 55 mph. They called it the double nickel, like you know 5 cents in 5 cents 55. So, at the time there was a federal law passed that all new cars needed to have an 85 mile per hour speedometer. The thinking behind this was that so speeders wouldn’t speed as much because they couldn’t register their speed above 85 miles per hour.
Since cellphones weren’t around yet and you couldn’t track your speed via GPS, top speed runs probably weren’t that much fun. Plus, it’s got to be crazy to have something like a Chevy Corvette and have an 85 mph speedo on it and shameless plug.
Traditional manual transmissions where you use all four limbs to drive have been on the endangered species list for many many years. It makes a lot of sense because the new automatic transmissions, the dual clutches, are buttery smooth, last longer, and in a lot of cases get better fuel mileage. Believe it or not, nowadays less than 5% of all cars are sold with a manual transmission, here in the USA.
But can we really blame people because the automatic is so good? When they announce a new car, a new sports car, how many of you guys are holding your breath wondering if they’re actually going to release a manual transmission with that generation? Personally, I always hold my breath when they announced the 992 911 in the new M3 based on the G80 generation. I’m scared that more and more of these high-end sports cars, supercars or hypercars just not going to come with a third pedal.
Rear Hinged Doors
Okay straight up, I do know that cars like the 2020 Rolls-Royce Ghost have rear-hinged doors but they are definitely an outlier. Back when six was dirty and the air was clean, cars like the type 57 SC Atlantica, Lincoln Continental, even the more recent RX-8. In previous decades more cars had rear-hinged or suicide car doors. Due to them not being a safest front-hinged doors, they’re all but a thing of the past.