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15 Defunct Automotive Options.

Posted in Car Accessories, Featured, General, Lists, Rants & Raves, Top of the Heap by MrAngry | February 14th, 2011 | 21 Responses |

Defunct Automotive Options

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 What about the outdated technology though – what ever becomes of that?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

Eight Track Deck

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

Automotive Options

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

Automotive Options

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

Automotive Options

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.

• T-Tops

Automotive Options

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

Automotive Options

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

Automotive Options

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

Automotive Options

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

Automotive Options

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

Automotive Options

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

Automotive Options

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

Automotive Options

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.

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21 Responses

  1. Canrith says:

    The T-Tops and the hood mounted tach are the only two I am actually sad to see go. Both added to the cars function, and were pretty cool aesthetically speaking as well. Not sure if CB’s should be on this list as everyone I know still has one in their cars.

  2. Jen says:

    This was a great read. My dad had a 1984 300zx with the t-tops and the talking feature. I remember quite a few rather lame jokes about the door being ajar (“no, it’s a door!”) and one very expletive-filled 10 minute span when a sporadic rainstorm showed up on the one rare occasion he ever actually took the t-tops off.

    My 2003 Mazda 6 is the basest base model you could possibly get, and it has a blank plate where a cassette player would go. Odd, since it’s the first gen (in America anyway) and I don’t even think the cassette player was offered. But I have a big blank space on my center stack for it. Not sorry to see it go!

  3. Dave says:

    I had a 1964 Valiant 2 dr hardtop with a 273 cu in V8 and push button automatic. Loved the push buttons a great concept. I was told they stopped making them because women broke their nails on them. Too bad. Oh yeah, surprisingly that car was fast in it’s class.

  4. BigRuss says:

    id have to say some of these options are good to be gone… some of them should still be around… the hood mounted tach should be on an option on the new Firebird kits…. i know their is a company converting the new camaro’s into T-top cars… now if i was going to pick a few items off this list to build a sexy weekend cruiser it would be
    1. hood mounted tach (why because there is a proper cruising rpm)
    2. push button automatic (why?? because it would look super sleek in my center console mounted just above option 3)
    3. cb radio
    4. t-tops because i still get the open air feeling but when the road gets twisty its still feels nice and tight

  5. John says:

    T-tops were around on Firebirds and Camaros until 2002, so they lived a little past the mid 90s, if only on a few cars.

  6. John says:

    Not really sad to see any of this stuff go although I do agree bringing back stuff like hood mounted tachs for the newer muscle cars. One they should bring back are those swivel seats. Not sure if you’ve noticed or not but they are a lot of fatty’s that could really use this, at least as an option. I swear I was at the store the other and this very large woman took like ten freakin minutes to get out of her car. Yeah I should have gotten out and helped but I really didn’t think it would take that long. Also I didn’t want to be an enabler, I figured you got yourself in…you could get yourself out. She actually took a couple of breathers during the workout. I actually waited in my car until she got out. It was unreal. Also she hit the persons car next to her like twice. Not sure if there was any damage. But think of the millions that could be saved without all those “a fatty dinged my door” claims to insurance companies. Think about it.

  7. Will says:

    I have t-tops on my 93 MR2. I love them and they’re always off unless it looks cloudy. Even then I can have them on in under 2 minutes.

    I do miss the talking portion of my old 83 280ZX. It used to crack me up, and was a lot cooler than a chime or bell.

  8. Paul says:

    The T-Tops I think are still pretty cool. The Landou tops? Thank god they are gone but I think Florida didn’t get the memo… I saw new camry with one… -crickets, crickets-

  9. MrAngry says:

    “I think Florida didn’t get the memo” – Oh how right you are.

  10. inthebuff says:

    I learned how to drive on a ’65 Rambler with a three on the tree in Buffalo NY in the winter. That taught me I could drive anything in just about any weather condition. The standard transmission will soon be defunct. It’s hardly available any more on cars manufactured for US consumption.

    • Jeff DeWitt says:

      The end of the stick shift has been predicted for a very long time but it’s still with us. I’ve only ever had one car with an automatic (my first, a 60 Studebaker Hawk), everything else since has had a stick.

  11. Jeff DeWitt says:

    My Studebakers have column shift and overdive (3 on the tree and two more under the dashboard).

    It may be archaic but in a bench seat pickup with a standard shift it works much better than a floor shift.

  12. Dave says:

    Yup drove a few 3 on the tree,didnt mind till the column started to wear out and get jammed up!(usualy in middle of a busy intersection)I realy miss vent windows!!They worked great for air in,smoke out without rain coming in!

  13. Alex Parrish says:

    Headlight wipers; I’m sure they lasted far longer than the 80’s because my 2000 SAAB 9-5 had them. I haven’t noticed whether newer SAABs still have them — but I agree that they were pretty useless.

  14. Don Paulk says:

    I go back even before these 15. Remember the “autronic eye” that changed the hi-low headlight beam? And the button that lifted/lowered the antenae? Not to mention the floor mounted headlight dimmer switch … and whatever happened to to the gravel guard chrome strip like I have on my ’48 Cadillac. Personally, I think the old guys had more personality than the areo-dynamic boxes they build today that all look alike.

  15. MrAngry says:

    Don, I couldn’t agree more…

  16. Alec says:

    Quite a few immediate pre and post WW2 British cars such as the Rover 16 and the Armstrong Siddleys had hydraulic jacks built into the 4 corners of the chassis. These were operated from inside the car by selecting 1, 2 or all the jacks and revving the engine thereby lifting the car. Brilliant if you got a flat in the rain!

  17. mcycle-nut says:

    I had a ’61 Biscayne with a 3 on the tree. Yes, they did jam up, but it was just a matter of replacing the plastic bushings. I managed to get brand new ones from the Chevrolet dealer when the car was over 20 years old!

    Push button trannies. I remember being in a friend’s ’63 Valiant when he did a neutral drop. Stripped the ring gear in the rear end!

    T-tops. I heard the Camaros and Firechickens with these tended to get cracked windshields due to extra flexing. Anybody?

    Cassette decks. They were ok until they starting eating tapes. Not cool. I really like CD players. Not into the memory stick, I-pod, MP3 thingees yet. C’mon, give me a break, I’m 50 years old!

    What I do miss is the floor mounted dimmer switches. Having to replace the one on my ’79 Parisienne,(Catalina to you Americans), involved dropping the steering column!!!! To replace the floor mounted one on my ’66 Ford truck, I spent more time picking the crap out of the Phillips head screws than I did actually removing it and installing the new one!

  18. MrAngry says:

    I own two cars with floor mounted dimmer switches and still think they rock…

  19. Buckeyedave says:

    My dad had an early 70’s Ford Torino and the seat belt buzzer, if you did not buckle up, was obnoxiously loud and irrating. It was no low chime, ding-ding, or melodic tone.Glad to see that go away.
    Also, in the 1940’s and 1950’s the swivel dome lights that were mounted in the front windshield roof pedestals like you see today on police cars. I have always found this add on interesting when I go to car shows and see these big beautiful cars with their police-like chrome lights.What on earth were these used for?

  20. My 1991 Eclipse had those dang seat belts. GRR

    Also, my 2005 VW has a tape player. HAHA