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Hooniverse Asks- What Excised Car Feature Do You Miss Most?

Robert Emslie April 21, 2010 Hooniverse Asks 120 Comments

The earliest cars came with cranks to get them started. That being more of a burden than a feature, when electric starters became reliable enough, the crank start (for the most part) was abandoned for the ease of electricity. But other features have become either equally redundant due to more modern technologies, or have become passe  in fashion. Which of these do you miss?

Vent wings, ashtrays, full-size spares, bench seats in front; for many reasons we just don’t see these features in cars of today – or even in cars of the past decade or so.

Back in the day, these features were either just how things were done, or they were innovative answers to identified problems or nuisances to which the technology of the time was applied.

But as tech changed, or social mores  shifted, some of these features fell to different priorities and proclivities. As these features are still around on many old cars, we all get the opportunity to sample them from time to time, and frequently, following a trip in one of these codgers we pine for one or more forgotten feature.

Is there one or more that you wish was still common today?

Image source: [Masterdrive.org, Willystech.com]

  • Baron Von Danger

    Simple 5-speed and a braided cable connected to the throttle body.

    • Tom P

      5 speed and throttle body…..guess I'm to old to recall that combination?????

  • http://www.flowerpowerkc.com Alff

    Just for starters…

    Massive bench seats
    Roll down back windows (a la station wagons and certain Mercs)
    Lightness built in
    Record players
    Single stage paint
    Curb feelers
    Pop up sunroofs
    Manual window cranks
    Coolness (exclusive to GM)

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/JeepyJayhawk JeepyJayhawk

      Fine, don't leave any easy ones for the rest of us…

      Least you left me THE straight six.

      • http://intensedebate.com/people/Alff Alff

        Hey, Jeepy! LeMons update? Are you going to Nebraska?

        • http://intensedebate.com/people/JeepyJayhawk JeepyJayhawk

          We entered, now we wait. That whole "selection" thing you know….

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/Thrashy Thrashy

      I was with you for most of that but… points? Personally, I'd file that one away with carbs, Lucas electrical components, and hand cranks in the pile of "Things I'd Rather Not Have To Deal With."

      • http://intensedebate.com/people/Alff Alff

        Yeah, maintenance free > minor maintenance. I just long for the days when I could impress a gal with my mechanical aptitude, armed only with a fingernail file.

      • http://intensedebate.com/people/CptSevere CptSevere

        Bah, humbug, points are easy to deal with. Carburetors are no big deal, either, unless you're trying to dick with something like a Garbajet or a Hitachi electrical nightmare emanating vacuum tubes. I've never had a car that you had to hand crank, but every bike I've ever owned had a kickstarter, and I used it over the electric most of the time (when the bike had both). Hey, that's the way it used to be forever, all that old tech, and it worked for years. Yeah, I'm a Luddite, but that's the level of technology that I understand and I do pretty well at that level. Now, excuse me while I go stoke the boiler that runs my steam-powered computer.

    • Christine

      how about the bumpers that allowed a hit at aprox 15 -30 with verry minimal to no dammage. The angle of the seats were great for long drives ( no leg cramps or legs going to sleep.) I also liked the fact i could work on my car my self.What hppened to great inventions? I also loved the large area for your legs and in the trunk. With a car like that who needed a truck.

    • Dianne M. Trump

      Fender skirts

  • http://hooniverse.com/ Tanshanomi

    Forget wing windows, I want a safari windshield.
    <img src="http://i250.photobucket.com/albums/gg255/oval56_photos/DSCF0148-2.jpg&quot; width="480">

    • John Shepherd

      The dimmer switch on the floor, fender skirts, the little red light for bright light, the vacumn windshield wippers.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/Blacksteelies Black Steelies

    I feel like there was a post about this before. But definitely cigarette lighter for lighting fireworks on the go.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/thomasmac thomasmac

      It may only be noon here, but I am pretty confident that will be the greatest thing I read all day.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/Tanshanomi Tanshanomi
    • http://intensedebate.com/people/thomasmac thomasmac

      That way you do not have to shower that day if its raining during your commute!

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/muthalovin muthalovin

      T-Tops are so full of win! I have often thought of taking as sawzall to my roof.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/Feds_II Feds_II


    • http://intensedebate.com/people/Blacksteelies Black Steelies

      For real homie

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/M44Power M44Power

    Bumpers that were more than amorphous lumps of body-colored plastic.
    Non-assisted steering.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/Alff Alff

      Right on! True, triple-dipped chrome bumpers and trim FTW.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/P161911 P161911

      Agreed, everyone hates the look of the 5mph bumpers but it is really nice for a vehicle to take a light tap and not need $2500 in bodywork.

      • http://intensedebate.com/people/TurboBrick TurboBrick

        You'd think the insurance industry would be more enthusiastic about this topic.

        • http://intensedebate.com/people/ptschett ptschett

          My reasoning is that they like modern cars. It's instant justification for higher rates, and you're more likely to survive a bad crash and remain a paying customer.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/joshuman joshuman

    Ash trays. I don't smoke but I do need someplace to put my change.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/SSurfer321 SSurfer321

      with the current cupholder to occupant ratio of 1.5:1 you should have ample space for your change.
      I have enough cup holders in my F150 that I can sort the change; 1 for copper, 1 for silver.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/Maymar Maymar

      My Civic has five small bins within my reach (not including the centre console and cupholders) – two on the left on the wheel for my Bluetooth and gas cards, one behind the shifter for change, two in front of the shifter for cds, sunglasses, and other assorted crap. I have no need for ashtrays.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/dmilligan dmilligan

      I want lighted ashtrays. I do smoke and I hate accidentally stubbing out smokes on my dash because I can't see the damn ashtray.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/Thrashy Thrashy
    • http://intensedebate.com/people/blueplate blueplate

      Yup– don't even think of spec'ing your all-new '82 Datsun without one!

      +1, what a pithy name for "those black vent things that go on the back window of your hatchback– you know those things?"

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/lilwillie lilwillie

    Chrome trim.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/coupeZ600 coupeZ600

    Roof-top door gutters. In Flagstaff the snow is real wet, but as soon as the clouds leave, it gets real cold. If you don't have gutters, your door is now ice-welded shut. It was funny watching the other snow-plow drivers pouring buckets of hot water over the tops of the doors to try and melt the ice joining the roof, moulding and door. Most of the time it would just go down to the sill where it would then re-freeze.

    Then I would get home and find the exact same thing had happened to my wife's Honda and her fighting the door until she saw me and said, "You get it open!" as she walked away disgusted.Not so funny now. As I prepared to pour the bucket of hot water over the top of the door, I remember always thinking, "Although I have just seen this done with very little ill effect, it still strikes me as an incredibly bad idea."

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/coupeZ600 coupeZ600

      Plus roof-racks (Yakima, Thule, etc.) are almost always universally interchangeable from one vehicle to the next if they both have gutters.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/dmilligan dmilligan

      Yeah, I miss the gutters too. They keep out a lot of water if you have to crack a window in the rain. Wind wings were good for that too.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/TurboBrick TurboBrick

    Real, visible bumper colored bumpers and matching rub strips on the doors: I can park and open the doors on my Volvo without having to be so damn worried about things. My in-laws had their truck scratched to hell by a runaway shopping cart, whole thing could have been avoided with a run strip on the door.

    Also, bench seats on automatic cars, straight sixes and cigarette lighters (and I don't even smoke but dammit, they're supposed to be there!).

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/dahm dahm

    Foot operated switches for headlight brights

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/superbadd75 soo΄pәr-bādd75

      Awesome one!

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/engineerd engineerd

      I loved that feature in my grandpa's truck.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/JeepyJayhawk JeepyJayhawk

      oh god yes!

    • tonyola

      Heh – that's one feature I don't miss in the least. For me, it belongs in the dustbin of history along with the old twist-to-release umbrella-handle parking brake.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/dmilligan dmilligan

      Yeah! Bring back the foot switch!

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/P161911 P161911

      Great for automatics, but kind of a pain for a stick shift. My 88 F-150 has that. There have been a couple of times I have needed to downshift and dim the lights at the same time. Hard to dim the lights when your left foot is on the clutch.

  • Maymar

    Bench seats – if 95% of North Americans are going to insist on having an automatic transmission, what do we really need a centre console for? Like John McCrea, I'd rather have my baby close to me than some lump of plastic. I'm especially looking in Nissan's direction, who decided the cube didn't need three across when they brought it over here.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/goingincirclez Goingincirclez

      Amen. I've always thought console shift automatics to be the ultimate in poseurdom. At least my '88 Tbird had it on the column, where it belonged – all the console in the '97 did was remind me how it should / could have been a manual instead.

      • DClan

        Well, you could kinda blame the early T-Bird's for the whole decorative but useless center console trend in the first place.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/engineerd engineerd

    Wheels under 16 inches.

  • dukeisduke

    Kick panel vents FTW!. They would blow tons of fresh air through, much better than the "Vent" position on the A/C control. I even bought a set on non-A/C kick panels with vents, and stuck them on my Vega with A/C, for days when I didn't need A/C.

    Or go even further back, and bring back pop-up cowl vents.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/Mad_Science Mad_Science

      Under-the-steering-column vent > all other vents.

      • http://intensedebate.com/people/dukeisduke dukeisduke

        Even the lowly Vega had lap coolers. They were just a little sliding door on the bottom of the under-dash vent boxes on each side, that covered/uncovered a hole. Not as good as actual vents that would blow cold air directly on your lap, though. A great GM thing.

        • http://intensedebate.com/people/Mad_Science Mad_Science

          It's been a long-standing feature on 4Runners, right there, on the bottom-side of the column, right where it'll blow cold air up your shorts :)

          We've got a 2010 presser coming in shortly. I'll be disappointed if it's not there.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/dmilligan dmilligan

      I miss these too, although opening them after driving on dusty roads for a while could be a rude experience.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/superbadd75 soo΄pәr-bādd75

    I'm sick of every wagon and SUV having a liftgate. I'd like a setup where the glass goes up, and the gate flips down. Or even better, like the older 4Runner, where the glass rolls down into the tailgate, and the gate flips down like a pickup. Liftgates don't give you any additional length for stuff to hang out, they don't give you a place to sit before/after the ball game/concert/when you're too drunk to go anywhere, and when the support struts go out, it's a hell of a lot heavier and more cumbersome than a piece of glass.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/Mad_Science Mad_Science

      Also, you can't stand on the bumper and get at the contents of your roof rack.

      The _science clan had a 'Burbo with barn doors, which is my preference.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/P161911 P161911

      I think the automakers felt that more people had rather stay dry while loading their groceries.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/engineerd engineerd

      My '87 Crown Vic wagon had the trick tailgate. It would either roll the window down (via the key) into the tailgate and drop down or swing to the side, depending on which way you moved the lever. It was an engineering marvel.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/Blacksteelies Black Steelies

      How about the power clamshell tailgate? Those were just the coolest.

      • http://intensedebate.com/people/blueplate blueplate

        Quoi? What is this?

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/dmilligan dmilligan

      Having the rear glass roll down into the tailgate sounds like a good idea, but if you load and unload lots of heavy stuff they're a real weak point. My dad used to run a small bus line in southern Oregon and used International Travelalls as his main vehicle. They used to come equipped with a roll down backglass, and we were always working on the damn things. The window regulators would jam a lot and break often, and if you weren't careful with freight you would bust the glass. They didn't seal worth a damn either and let in lots of dust.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/dr_zero dr zero

      I used to use the tailgate of my old Civic to get changed on for cricket and soccer. Great for suburban sporting fields where you don't get any benches/sheds (or they would be too full of hypodermic needles to even contemplate taking off your shoes). So yeah, tailgates are much better than hatches.

  • jim-bob

    Throttle cables. I mean, really, is it too much to ask that I can have a direct link from the pedal to the throttle? I don’t need traction control, stability control, or anything else like that. I can drive the damn car myself.

  • JimBob

    RWD as a standard on all cars, with FWD being a rare occurance/option. >:|

  • tonyola

    Vent windows, for sure. Back when I still smoked, being able as a lefty to flick ashes out of the driver's vent window was really convenient. Yes, I know about forest fires and all that, but my excuse was the carelessness of youth. Even cooler were the old pre-'69 Cadillac Fleetwoods which had electric vent windows in both the front *and* rear doors. For some strange reason, my '94 Buick has small fixed glass panes in the front doors where vent windows ought to go. If only they opened, but sadly, it wasn't even an option.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/dmilligan dmilligan

      I'm with ya, although I'm a fan of the hand-cranked wind wings.

    • James Ashley Shea

      Electric vent windows? Wow! I thought hand-cranked vent windows were cool.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/muthalovin muthalovin

    I miss my 8-Track. I also miss Lynyrd Skynyrd.

    <img src="http://californiaclassix.com/images/JD-8track-remote.jpg"&gt;

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/dmilligan dmilligan

      Aiiieeeeee!!! Kill it! Kill it with fire!!

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/coupeZ600 coupeZ600

      Wow! Is that a Kraco? My very first car ('69 Nova, 250 I-6, three-on-the-tree) had a Kraco deck that looked just like that! The car came with AC/DC's "Back in Black" in the deck when I got the car, and it just lived there. When I sold the car a few years later, (so I could get a '77 Celica GT Coupe) I made sure the tape was right back where I found it. It was amazing that it still worked perfectly after thousands of hours at full rack.

      • http://intensedebate.com/people/Alff Alff

        Kraco was a kwality brand, although I was more a fan of Realistic. If I was feeling particularly flush, I might spring for Sparkomatic gear.

  • OA 5599

    Multiple carburetors. Six packs, dual quads, even twin 1bbl will do.

    FI may be more economical and more adaptable, but doesn't have the same character.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/Froggmann_ Froggmann_

    Seperate buttons/knobs for each of the controls. As it stands save for the climate control I can control everything on the car via a stalk. As I found in the bronco once that stalk gets worn out you're kinda screwed.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/Blacksteelies Black Steelies

      YES. My gas struts don't even work, even if they half worked my hood weighs a boatload. Are those really any cheaper than those silly lookin metal coils? You wouldn't think so but yes, they probably are.

      So anywhom, I'm stuck with a 2×2 prop.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/P161911 P161911

      I was pissed when we got our 2004 Trailblazer and it used a prop rod. The thing had a sticker price of nearly $35k (did pay near that) and it used a stupid little stick to keep the hood up! First car I had ever had without springs or gas struts. I expect that on a cheap econobox/POS, but a $35k SUV?!? Also there is no light under the hood!

      • http://intensedebate.com/people/Blacksteelies Black Steelies

        I think when you buy a $35k SUV, most automakers assume you will neither open the hood nor have any use for an underhood light. They are essentially a sealed unit to be opened by factory trained technicians.

        • http://www.automobile-catalog.com/ P161911

          That was pretty much true for the 1st 75k miles or so while it was still under the extended warranty, but I still had to add windshield washer fluid myself! Always seemed to be at night too. In 85K+ miles the only mechanical repair it has needed was a new waterpump and fan clutch. Not sure which one went first and caused the other one to go bad. I did that myself, it wasn't too bad, if you don't mind bending a few vanes on the radiator :)

  • nofrillls

    Space to work under the hood.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/Blacksteelies Black Steelies

      How about an under hood light?

      Nofrills you have the perfect name for this post.

    • Kbike

      Just to able to work under the hood yourself would be nice

  • Sam

    I liked the telescopic antenna on my 77 datsun. Kind of a charming little detail old cars had. round head lights are the best.
    Big needle speedometers that were about 10 inches wide with green lighting. three on tree is groovy. Hard top 4 doors. 235/75r15 tires. marker lights. bumper jacks.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/engineerd engineerd

      Bumper jacks!

      • http://intensedebate.com/people/Blacksteelies Black Steelies

        Those screw jacks they put out now take a hell of a long time

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/goingincirclez Goingincirclez

    Pillarless hardtops and suicide doors.

    Combine both for epicness.

    <img src="http://image.automobilemag.com/f/6709113+w750+st0/0610_z+1961_lincoln_continental+25_most_beautiful_cars.jpg"&gt;