Front quarter window, oscillating air vent, fender mounted mirrors... Here is a look at features we wish were still around on our modern vehicles.
Wooden Truck Bed Floor
Front Quarter Window
Volvo Ticket Clip
Honda Prelude Four Wheel Steering
Mitsubishi Super Shift
Mazda 626 Oscillating Air Vent
Hyundai Tucson Purse Hook
Full Sized Spare
Fender Mounted Mirrors
Front Hinged Hood
VW Tiguan Card Slots
You’ll often see a wood truck bed on classic pickups. While there are some good reasons why we don’t use them anymore (durability, cost, environmental impact), a wood bed has two significant advantages. Got something in the bed and need it anchored? Get a strap around it then just nail it into place. Bed starting to look a little rough? Buy some new wood at the hardware store and put a new floor down. Plus, it looks a little nicer than a plain black truckbed.
(Photo: Paul Swansen)
A favourite among smokers, the forgetful, or, sadly car thieves. These little front windows operated on a hinge, swinging outwards and sucking air into the cabin as you drove. For smokers, the airflow these windows caused tended to suck smoke out. And for the forgetful, one could reach in and unlock their door if they happened to forget their keys inside.
All this is, is a little transparent plastic clip along the edge of your windshield that’s useful for holding items like your ticket stub when you pay for a parking spot. Unfortunately several drivers of older Volvos report the clip falling off after replacing a cracked windshield. Some Volvo drivers say dealers will install these for you.
In the late 80s, Four Wheel Steering was a popular feature on several Japanese cars. Most of these steering systems were problematic, relying on hydraulics that often failed to perform. For their third generation Prelude, Honda had a purely mechanical FWS system that proved to be far more reliable than its competitors. Four wheel steering is starting to perhaps make a comeback, as BMW has implemented rear wheel steering in their 2013 7-series.
Essentially an 8-speed manual transmission…from the 70s. It consists of two gearboxes (complete with two gear levers) – a traditional four speed and an additional two speed gearbox. The extra two speed has gearing for power and another gear for economy. Each of the four traditional gears can be used twice – once for power and again for economy. This complex system was incredibly finicky to work with and didn’t last too long. With some refinement, this couild be a cool system for a modern car with a manual transmission. Oh, wait: aren’t manual transmissions a dying breed?
Imagine on a hot day, blasting the AC and letting the cool air waft over you. After a while it gets too cold. You start feeling numb. If only there were some way for the vent to adjust itself automatically. Years back, Mazda actually had a feature in their 626 that did just that. Like your floor fan at home, Mazda’s air vent swung left and right automatically, evenly dispersing the cold or hot air.
It’s probably not just for purses. If the back seats are full and you’d rather not keep your purse on your lap, the Tucson featured a little hook in the passenger footwell that you could hang bags off of. It’s not exactly groundbreaking, but it’s certainly handy and it beats putting it on the dirty floor mats. (Photo: Hyundai)
Typically a BMW-only feature, these removable flashlights can be quite useful. If you dropped something under the seat, or need to take a look under the hood, the flashlight can easily be removed and used. It charges as its plugged in, and if you happen to lose it, they’re cheap to replace. It would be a handy feature on any car.
(Photo: Oliver Ortega Chua)
In an effort to keep costs and weight down while keeping trunk space at a maximum, auto makers have abandoned the full sized spare tire and opted for a skinny wheel on a steel hub. Not only does this look silly in the event of a flat tire, but it makes buying tires a little more of a hassle as you need to get two different sizes as opposed to just one. Plus, when you’re inflating or checking pressure, having the same values all around makes things a bit easier. Bonus points if the spare comes with an alloy wheel.
A staple of classic European and Japanese cars. Pedestrian safety regulations mean we likely aren’t allowed to have these anymore (on modern vehicles) but there’s no denying, they add character and look quite cool doing so. Being farther ahead, a fender mounted mirror would likely offer a wider range of vision than a mirror of the same size mounted on the doors as we are used to.
(Photo: RM Auctions)
No, not that light on your dashboard (which you should probably have checked out.) In times past, when you popped the hood, there was a handy light placed under the hood, providing some illumination in the engine bay. Such a feature would be quite handy these days with engine bays as crowded as ever.
(Photo: Andrew Chang)
It’s been nearly a decade since a car with concealed headlights hit the market. Those cars that featured concealed lamps tended to have a very sleek and low front end. Concealed headlights aren’t necessarily restricted to pop-up headlights. Jaguar’s XJ220 featured lamp covers that slid out of the way, revealing static headlights underneath.
If you’ve ever find yourself on the side of the road with steam coming up from your hood, wouldn’t it be nice to have a toolkit on hand? In days past, many cars came with a set of nicely contained tools that was often enough to get you going to the nearest shop. Thankfully it’s easy enough to pick up a cheap set of tools at your local hardware store.
(Photo: RM Auctions)
You won’t see these much anymore, simply because they are more expensive to produce. The hinges need to be designed to clear the headlights, radiators, bumpers and even the metal of the fenders. While, admittedly, they aren’t anymore practical than the typical engine hood, they undeniably look much cooler. Lately, the SRT Viper had a front hinged clamshell style hood, but it’s now incredibly uncommon to see them on modern cars.
(Photo: RM Auctions)
Never forget your gas card again. First generation of Volkswagen’s Tiguan featured some handy slots near the gear lever for cards that you may not always want to pull your wallet out to get. These can include security passes, gas cards, coffee cards or a parking pass. OK, so ONE recent vehicle had this feature—why not all vehicles?