Car manufacturers are always looking to be ahead of the curve, offering feature-packed cars that attract buyers to them over the competition. Technology is ever advancing, which means that some things which were once for the elite are now viewed as basic or even wholly redundant. We take a look at ten classic car features that are no longer desirable or find demand.
The choke was a once necessary feature on vehicles that isn’t even known by most younger drivers today. Back when cars had carburettors, the driver needed to manually adjust the fuel-to-air mixture for the car to start. Temperature played a large part in the mixture required, meaning it took skill to get it right. This complex system has thankfully been replaced by electronic fuel injection, which means that there is no need for a choke.
In-car entertainment used to be limited to listening to the radio or playing cassettes on your personal cassette player. This system was often unreliable, with the cassettes becoming stuck or eating themselves. CDs and MPCs (multi-play cassettes) were developed as an improvement on this technology, but they are now both outdated thanks to digital media players, which can store thousands of songs and be easily controlled by voice or a touch screen.
Cassettes were big and bulky. Innovative manufacturers decided to include handy little pop out cassette drawers in some of their models. This was a great idea… until the cassettes started getting stuck in the drawer and breaking. With the move away from in-car cassette players to CD players, there was no longer a need for these drawers.
Smoking in cars was once common. So much so that there were often numerous ashtrays within a vehicle. Some could be found on the dash, centre console and even on the doors. These days, most cars don’t even have one – making ashtrays one of those classic car features that are now obsolete.
The humble cigarette lighter has been a staple in cars for decades, but with the decline in smokers for health reasons, they are becoming increasingly redundant. The cigarette lighter also doubles up as a power socket. While you will still find 12v sockets in. cars, they are likely to disappear altogether as USB is a smaller, more effective option now.
Getting a good radio signal was once reliant on a long metal antenna. These were often vandalised, so manufacturers designed the retractable antennae. These were initially manually operated and relied on the car owner remembering to pull them up and put them down. In time power aerials became a thing on luxury models and then across the market. However, with the rise of digital radio and Bluetooth, the need for an aerial has all but disappeared.
These tiny windows were a popular feature in cars of yesteryear, but they are now nothing more than a design quirk. The primary function of vent windows was to allow some air to circulate in the car when it was hot, but with the advent of air conditioning, they are now surplus to requirements. They were also handy to let smoke out without having to open the large window in colder weather.
In the dark ages of motoring (i.e. before the 1990s), manual windows were the norm. But as cars have got more and more advanced, electric windows have become standard. The only exception is on cheaper models for cost-cutting where you may find rear manual windows or some sports cars where a manual window is seen as a weight-saving measure.
Another relic of the past, headlamp wipers were once a common sight on British cars. They were introduced in the 1920s to keep grime and rain off your headlights, but now that most cars have plastic or glass headlight covers, they’re no longer needed. Some manufacturers such as Mercedes and Volvo used headlight wipers into the 90s, which were beneficial in colder countries prone to snow.
The carphone was once a must-have gadget for the business person on the go. They were so big and unwieldy that they had to be mounted on the centre console or, in some cases, on the floor. Nowadays, we have much smaller mobile phones and hands-free systems that make it easier (and safer) to use phones on the road.
We hope you enjoyed the little trip down memory lane of classic car features that were once must-haves and are now redundant. We love seeing some of these old features in cars, they take us back to days gone by. Sadly some will be removed and modernised, but we like to see unmolested classical with all their retro features. Have we forgotten any? Let us know in the comments.