August 10, 2022

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9 Weird Classic Car Features We Still Miss

As time and technology have moved along, a lot of must-have car features have faded away. Some are simply no longer needed, such as cigarette lighters, manual parking brakes, and various safety features. Most aren’t missed, such as manual cranks for windows or some of the weird attempts at “high tech” features from the 1980s. A few of these may still have some appeal, but most are simply outdated and best left in the past.



Yet there are some classic car features that could still work today. Some are just for style and add something special to the car, while others have an actual practical use and may be even better than some modern features of today. These are ten classic car features that might be due for a comeback and could even outdo some modern car features in being fun, practical, and adding something special to the car.

9 Tail Fins

It’s amazing with so many “retro” looks over the years that we’ve yet to see a return of tail fins. A standard of the 1950s and early ’60s, they looked striking, with the sharp fins adding a spark to a car design.

Not only were they cool to see, but they could also offer some excellent aerodynamics and still turn heads at classic car meets and shows. With an affinity for retro rides, one would think it’d be fun to bring this back as even if they offer little practical use, tail fins always made a car stand out from the pack.

8 Gated Shifters

As much as folks try to fight it, the manual transmission is dying a slow death. This means the classic gated shifter will be going with it. But we can’t deny just how cool these look in muscle and sports cars, even in brand-new ones.

These didn’t just look cool; they were also practical. It actually helped to know which slot to put the right gear into, and it felt more exciting making these shifts on a fast drive. Some gated shifters were beautiful with a special shift knob, and if the manual transmission has to fade out, at least bring this back for a last gasp of fun before the automatic takes over.


7 Built-In Car Phones

Long before cell phones were commonplace, a phone inside the car was considered a huge deal. They could be bulky, of course, with cords and needing a large setup but still special. Today, they may seem unnecessary, but there could be some logic in bringing them back.

It would avoid issues of forgetting a phone or having it die out on you as modern tech could help a built-in phone with GPS and other touches. It can also help in an emergency since the car phone has a better connection to call for help. A modern version of a car phone can still be an important addition today.

Related: 5 Car Features We’ll Sorely Miss (5 We Can’t Stand)


6 Spare Tire On The Outside

This was back in the days before car trunks were considered a regular thing and thus scores of cars from the 1920s to the 1950s had a large space for the spare tire on the outside. They were often on the back but could also be on the sides and built into the car’s design.

It’s actually rather practical as it avoids the hassle of tearing up half the trunk to get the spare tire out and even serves as a further layer of protection in a crash. It also added something to the retro feel of a car, so bringing it back would not only lead to fun styles but also practicality for some owners.


5 Pop-Up Headlights

They still “pop up” from time to time, but this style of headlights is officially dead. This is too bad as they are pretty amazing when they work right. The car design looks cooler without the headlights as a distraction, allowing for a stylish front.

The pop-ups themselves can look terrific, especially on a modern-looking car such as the Mazda RX-7. Those who own them love them, and it’s another feature worthy of a comeback to show how pop-up headlights can enhance a car’s appearance.

4 Hood Ornaments

As the name implies, the hood ornament never served any real purpose on a car. It was just something to put at the front end, usually the company’s logo and symbol. But in their time, they could be utterly beautiful and made the car seem even more luxurious and special than it was. Who didn’t love a Jaguar leaping out or some of the more elaborate ones?

Hood ornaments could range from works of art to edgy stuff such as skulls and set a car apart. It’s too bad they’re pretty much ignored now as they could be even better today, helping a car stand out from the pack.

Related: 10 Classic Car Features No One Could Live Without (That Are Now Useless)

3 Suicide/Gullwing Doors

While some high-end sports cars can still have unique doors, there was a time when gullwing or suicide doors were the norm. Suicide doors were intriguing for a limo or high-end luxury car, opening in the opposite direction for better movement, setting it apart from less premium models.

Gullwing doors were more visually impressive, though, making it appear like the car was ready to take off into the air, and some cars like the DeLorean were made automatically cooler by them. They seem to have fallen to the wayside, though, which is too bad as a different door style can spark a car up nicely.

2 Under License Plate Gas Caps

This is another quirky bit that might be fun to bring back sometime. Sure, it’s a bit trickier for manufacturers to have the pipe to the gas tank running past the trunk like this, but it was fun to raise or lower the license plate to fuel up.

The obvious reasons it was removed were the dangers of damage to the tank in case of a crash, but something about popping up the plate for fueling is so offbeat that, if it could be improved, it would be a fun dynamic for some cars.

Related: 8 Extinct Car Features From The 1980s That Drivers Are Happy To Forget

1 Front Bench Seats

This may be disavowed today for safety reasons and modern cars’ simple logistics, which is too bad because there was something incredibly fun about the front seat of an automobile basically being a couch. It was far roomier, allowing for three people up front, and always made the cars more comfortable, too.

A smaller person could even stretch out a bit while the driver handled the front seat. It’s clear why they faded away, but a “bench” as the front seat was something special and might be worth trying again.