Over the years technology has evolved and with that so have our beloved automobiles. Engineering, safety and efficiency have improved to levels never thought possible just 40 years ago. Even though the automobiles basic architecture has remained the same over the last 100 years, the gadgets both inside and out have grown by leaps and bounds. Standard features and options have increased thus bringing exciting new technology that has paved the way for a newer, smarter breed of automobile. What about the outdated technology though – what ever becomes of that? Look at the basic in-car stereo system for example. Twenty years ago things like CD players were big ticket items but now a basic player will run you next to nothing. Below is a listing of now defunct automotive options that when released, meant you were playing in the big leagues. Nowadays though they’re nothing more than a trip down memory lane.
• 8-Track Player
Most of you reading this have probably never seen an actual 8-track player. Back in the late 1960’s and 1970’s if you had one of these in your car you were the Shizznit. Over time however these big, boxy decks gave way to smaller, more functional cassettes. I can almost hear the Bee-Gees playing now in my Grandfather’s old 1978 Cadillac Coupe de Ville.
• CB Radio
Breaker, breaker to the Bandit! Believe it or not but CB radios actually came as optional equipment on some cars. Even by today’s standard these are cool and unbelievably useful on long road trips. If you dig the open road these little suckers can still be unbelievably useful.
• Headlight Wipers
I remember seeing these on an old Mercedes-Benz S-class back in the 1980’s, and thought they were the coolest things. For the most part they were completely useless, but back then nothing said, “I’ve got money!” like those little wiper blades.
• Landau Roof
Thank God this trend stopped. Landau roofs were popular on everything from Chrysler K-cars to Lincolns. I had a 1969 Pontiac Grand Prix that had a Landau roof and pulled that sucker off the moment I got it… ugh, these were terrible.
Now this was one option that I was sad to see go. T-tops were and still are very cool in my book. Better then a sunroof, but without the headaches of a convertible, t-tops graced the tops of American cars from the mid-1970’s up until the mid-1990’s.
• Swivel Seats
My Aunt used to have a white and red 1977 Chevrolet Monte Carlo with a Rolling Stone’s sticker on the back bumper that had these swivel seats. I was a kid and used to swing back and fourth in them… ahh the memories.
• Automatic Seat Belts
Aside from the feeling of complete strangulation that these provided, automatic seat belts were probably one of the dumbest automotive trends in history. Thank goodness these passed.
• Talking Cars
In the early 1980’s companies like Datsun (remember them?) and Toyota put micro chips in their cars to let you know when you did certain things. Statements like, “Your door is ajar, Headlights are on” and “Parking Brake is On” will forever be stuck in my head thanks to an old 300zx I used to have.
• Push Button Transmission
I’ve never actually driven one of these things, but I can’t imagine that I’d like it much. The push button transmissions were developed in the 1950’s and were used on a few Edsel and Chrysler models. The concept is easy enough to grasp, but I don’t think it’s something I’d like to live with on a day-to-day basis.
• Three On Tree Transmission
• Hood Mounted Tachometers
A cool option that should have been reinstated on today’s pony cars. Having a hood tachometer means never having to take your eyes off the road. They were cool back in the 1960’s and they’re still cool today.
• Hood Mounted Turn Signals
You see that tiny little lens on the left side of the hood? That’s a hood mounted turn signal and it works wonders when you don’t hear your indicator. I think every old person alive should be required to have these on their cars.
• Cassette Player
The poor poor cassette deck. This poor bastard was around until the early 2000’s until it finally gave way to the CD player. It put up a good run (around 30 years) but alas, its day in the sun is up. I can tell you from experience that there was nothing like rolling at speed with the windows down and Def Leppard blaring from the deck… ah yes, the good ole’ days.