You’re cruising down Hollywood Boulevard in your classic Caddy Eldorado, the wind blowing through your hair, you feel like you’re back in the 1960s. While you’re in your element, modern-day commuters stare at you while passing because they’re far too busy to drive behind an old grandpa. Little do they know you suffer from a severe illness called nostalgia.
Nostalgia makes us remember the highlights of the past and justify the conundrums. Sure, back in the day cars used to be analog, lasted an eternity, and were well-built art pieces on wheels, but to play devil’s advocate; cars were also much much slower, sucked up gasoline like an infant does breastmilk, and downright much more dangerous than today’s selection.
There are two sides to every story, so here are some reminiscent design features we wish would reappear on modern cars, and some that were clouded by nostalgia and are better off buried.
Would Not: Car phones
And to think talking over a cell phone while driving was considered to be a traffic violation only in 2001, but all the years before that conversating on a distractingly huge handheld device was encouraged by automakers.
These prestigious automakers turned it into a competition to create the coolest interior phone. These brands equipped their most luxurious vehicles with brand-specific phones designed for the driver to take calls while being behind the wheel. Never have we heard of something less thought through than this.
Would: Hood Ornaments
Yes, hood ornaments are not completely extinct. Yes, there were other brands’ hood ornaments than Rolls’ Spirit of Ecstacy and Bentley’s Flying B. And no, they can’t get stolen anymore. Back in the day when cars would blind you with their chrome bumpers from a mile away, the most elegant of vehicles had prestigious hood ornaments attached to them like the Ford Greyhound, Mercedes-Benz Three-Pointed Star, and Jaguar’s Leaping Jaguar.
These were really subtle symbols of wealth and made of some expensive materials, so obviously these got stolen a lot – especially Rolls’ Spirit of Ecstacy which cost upwards of $10,000 and is the world’s most expensive hood ornament. There have been some pretty sagacious anti-theft procedures invented since 2004 which might make automakers reevaluate hood ornaments.
Would Not: Chrome Everywhere
The saying doesn’t go “shine bright like a shiny piece of plastic” for a reason. Some classic cars look as if they were assaulted by a metal monster with food poisoning, which gave them huge tacky chrome bumpers distracting everyone from what was going on around them.
In these shimmering monstrosities’ defense, there truly have been some diamonds in the rough that pulled off the bedazzled chrome look, like the Buick Special and Chevrolet Chevelle SS.
Cars that have T-Roofs are just like vegetarians who still indulge in a piece of sushi now and then on the down-low. These are cars that are wanna-be convertibles, but that does not mean they’re uncool in any which way.
They have two removable panels on the roof, one on the right, and one on the left, leaving a small solid bar in the middle of the roof to aid in rigidity, structure, and overall uniqueness. Some rather popular rides that came with T-Roofs were the Nissan 300ZX, Chevrolet Corvette, and Pontiac Firebird.
Would Not: Non-canceling Indicators
A small, but impactful part of a car – the indicator stalk. We all love a good old rhythmic flicker tick, but they had one big drawback; they never stopped.
Indicator-types on cars also varied throughout the years: Some were pulled out by reaching out your hand to the A- or B-pillar, others had a lever to pull, and some really posh mobiles had just a button to toggle off or on. Once you’ve triggered your indicator you better remember to turn it back off, but we believe you’d be better off using good old hand signals.
Would Whitewall Tires
Initially, the concoction used to produce tires resulted in a type of milky off-white color rubber instead of today’s deep black color, and it faded to beige with age. Car manufacturers eventually added zinc oxide to the special formula in the 1910s to morph the off-white wheel into a proper pulverizing white.
So in other words, what once was a necessity turned into an option beloved by motorists. Some iconic cars that featured the retro-retro-inspired wheels were Volkswagens, Chevys, Fords, and of course Lightning McQueen.
Would Not: Hand Cranked Motors
Yes, yes, we all know modern cars come with some type of keyless startup sequences that only require the push of a button in some cases, but things were much different in the past. Way before metal keys were used to start a car or the throttle had to be feathered to prevent stalling, cars were cranked by hand, just like a wind-up toy – only much more difficult.
Most petrolheads prefer older cars because they were less electrically assisted and felt raw. But I believe we all can settle on the fact that newer startup procedures are much more loved than these clunky inconvenient wind-up ones.
Would: Bench Seats
Fitting 5 people into a modern car is a bit of a tight squeeze already, but in the 1900s cars were offered with spacious practical bench seats. This meant that fitting more than 5 people into your lounge-like interior was a breeze and that your car could even double up as a bed to have a nap in… or have a nap in.
With autonomous technology evolving at an incredible rate, we might see bench seats making a comeback since the act of driving won’t need a physical driver anymore.
Would Not: Automatic Seatbelts
On paper automatic seatbelts sound like the next best idea; it eliminates the risk of you forgetting to put your seatbelt on, it forces the arrogant so-called “invincible” individuals to buckle up and enforces safety in a convenient fashion. So why do we want it to never come back?
Well, the automated system couldn’t buckle you up all the way; the system would secure the cross-chest belt, but the driver was responsible for buckling the lap-part of the contraption. Predictably, drivers and passengers forgot the last part of buckling the lap-part which resulted in numerous neck injuries in the event of a crash and even lead to a decapitation reported by the Tampa Bay Times.
Would: Pop-Up Headlights
Whether you live and breathe cars, or if you don’t know the difference between blinker and wheel fluid, you have a soft spot for pop-up headlights. The idea of making your car transform as the sun goes down like a werewolf is undoubtedly one of the coolest design features car manufacturers ever gave birth to.
These lights did not only make the front ends look more flush and attractive, but they were also fun and flirty. It truly is heartbreaking that these hidden headlamps have been banned due to not suiting certain pedestrian safety procedures – we do wish some polymath finds a way to bring these back alive. Donut Media has however paid tribute to pop-up headlights with their song, Pop-Up Up and Down Headlights
Back in the day, having one of these features on your car meant you were balling! Today, however, they’re more likely to make you a laughing stock…
About The Author