Hooniverse Asks: What '80s Tech Should Most Make a Comeback?


The 1980s was a magical time for automotive technology. Car manufacturers were finally getting a handle on emissions and safety demands and hence could turn their attention to other, more fun aspects of the driving experience. That resulted in cars with wonderful digital dashboards, talking cars, cars with air vents that oscillated like a table fan and more. What a time it was to be alive.
Sadly, many of those cool features—remember movable control pods?—have long since been abandoned. That’s too bad because what we need in cars these days is more fun. Do you think that some of that ’80s technology should be resurrected, and if so, which feature would you most like to see make a come-back?
Image: Dark Roasted Blend

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84 responses to “Hooniverse Asks: What '80s Tech Should Most Make a Comeback?”

  1. Sjalabais Avatar
    Sjalabais

    Wild lights.
    http://www.newoldcar.co.uk/images/Featured_Cars/Volvo/480/785_1988_Volvo_480_ES/1988 Volvo 480 ES 1.7 Pop Up Lights.JPG
    No point in pop up lights at all apart from maybe getting much better light spectres and vision out of a sleek design.

    1. nanoop Avatar

      Drive like you browse – Always allow popups!
      (that’s in my personal top ten from blipshift)
      Edit: I got it wrong the first time.

  2. Lokki Avatar
    Lokki

    Why, talking cars of course!!

    1. Sjalabais Avatar
      Sjalabais

      “A door is a jar”.
      Zoltan’s a philosopher.

      1. Papa Van Twee Avatar
        Papa Van Twee

        I had an ’83 Plymouth Sapporo Technica, and it said that as well. I would always reply, “No, it’s a door”.

      2. Monkey10is Avatar
        Monkey10is

        Sounds more like Zoltan is a Surrealist?
        https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/b/b9/MagrittePipe.jpg

    1. P161911 Avatar
      P161911

      I could see where that would actually be useful. For example, you can’t play with the sat nav while the vehicle is in motion, unless the display is turned towards the passenger. Even more useful when more cars have internet connected infotainment systems.

  3. Alff Avatar
    Alff

    5 speed manual transmissions
    Basket weaves clad in tires with sidewalls
    Hand cranked windows
    Chrome
    Bold paint and interior colors
    Limited use of computers
    BOF construction

    1. Kiefmo Avatar
      Kiefmo

      Okay, so… everything?
      I’m in favor of this.

    2. Maymar Avatar
      Maymar

      TURBO-branded… everything.

      1. Alff Avatar
        Alff

        That is the one tech that has come back. Just need to bring back the appropriate badging and stripes.
        http://images.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/02/10-1984-Plymouth-Colt-Turbo-Down-On-The-Junkyard-Pictures-courtesy-of-Phillip-TURBOOOOOOO-Greden-550×412.jpg

        1. Maymar Avatar
          Maymar

          http://www.civicx.com/attachments/mycivictouring4-jpg.3677/
          Offhand, Honda’s put small stickering on the new Civics, but it’s not enough, and it’s not big enough. Get back to me when TURBO is stitched into the seat belts.

      2. nanoop Avatar

        Our abuse car is currently a 1.2L turbo with 77kW; Skoda Roomster. While it feels more as agile on straights than a 120kW 944, I hate that the turbo will kick in at 2210 rpm, exactly out of the range of the consumption cycles.
        Maybe a QOTD (probably the fourth time): NA or turbo?

        1. Maymar Avatar
          Maymar

          Thirstier than you’d expect? I’ve always been a little wary of European fuel economy ratings. I hear lots of complaining about stuff not being able to hit the EPA ratings (which are much more conservative), but I haven’t found it to be that difficult.

          1. nanoop Avatar

            I don’t know the ratings of this car, but ours is 6.6L/100km in real life, with mainly <10miles city driving and a lot of winter exposure. Long distance travels at moderate speeds (~100km/h) get around 5.5L/100km, that's okay for me.
            I guess they could have smoothed out the torque curve a bit more, but they didn't, for obvious reasons; when downshifting, always take two.

    3. nanoop Avatar

      My P-car from ’83 doesn’t have chrome, which I like. The rest: check! (/)

      1. outback_ute Avatar
        outback_ute

        I’m not sure a P-car would be improved with a separate chassis. Then again, they’ve never tried that so perhaps it’s not impossible.
        But I doubt it.

        1. nanoop Avatar

          You’re certainly right, I just didn’t realize that this is considered 80s tech, or that it should make a comeback (it’s still around, isn’t it?)

          1. outback_ute Avatar
            outback_ute

            Very true. I think just about everything mentioned is pre-80’s tech except the talking computers.

          2. Sjalabais Avatar
            Sjalabais

            Makes me wonder if the conversation really would have been much shorter if we all had done proper research?

          3. nanoop Avatar

            – “Did anybody find something?”
            – “Nah, and the talking computer per se is older, too”

          4. outback_ute Avatar
            outback_ute

            Fair point, and say moving dashboard pods were really only the 928 had before 1980. But chrome, or BOF construction?

      2. Alff Avatar
        Alff

        I don’t need a lot of chrome, but I’d like to return to chrome and somewhat sacrificial bumpers.

        1. Sjalabais Avatar
          Sjalabais

          Have a triangle for “sacrificial bumpers”. If there’s one auto executive in history that deserves a beating, it’s the first person to propose painting bumpers. It’s like offering a toilet seat with nails in it, or a holed spoon to eat soup with. Pointless.

          1. Alff Avatar
            Alff

            I’d think a toilet seat with nails on it would be anything but pointless.
            I’ll bet that same executive was set for life after coming up with that huge cost saver. There should be a picture of him on the wall of every body shop.

    1. mrh1965 Avatar
      mrh1965

      Yes!

    2. Monkey10is Avatar
      Monkey10is

      Combining Kiefmo’s nomination of ‘movable dash elements’ with your suggestion: The Blaupunkt Berlin…
      http://forums.pelicanparts.com/uploads3/dash1086704555.jpg

      1. kogashiwa Avatar
        kogashiwa

        Magnificent.

      2. theskig Avatar
        theskig

        A friend of mine has it on his father’s old BMW 520

    3. theskig Avatar
      theskig

      I wish I have that stereo on my car. Fantastic!

  4. smalleyxb122 Avatar
    smalleyxb122

    Buttons, knobs, switches, and levers.

  5. P161911 Avatar
    P161911

    So were the Mazda oscillating vents 80s or 90s? Oscillating vents need to make a comeback!

    1. 0A5599 Avatar
      0A5599

      Late 80’s. I have a friend who had it on his 89 MX6. I thought they were annoying.

      1. P161911 Avatar
        P161911

        I’m fine with a switch to turn them off.

        1. 0A5599 Avatar
          0A5599

          The driver is the captain of the ship. I experienced them primarily as a front seat passenger.

    2. Papa Van Twee Avatar
      Papa Van Twee

      I had an ’89 323, and while no oscillating vents, it did have the driver’s side crotch vent (under the steering wheel). These could make a comeback as well.

      1. Sjalabais Avatar
        Sjalabais

        Foot well openings were a great feature of earlier cars, up the same alley. Push it open with your feet, and fresh air would flush in at high speed. Simple and genius.

    3. mrh1965 Avatar
      mrh1965

      I had a 1996 626 with the ‘dancing vents’. Not sure when they first appeared.

    1. Kiefmo Avatar
      Kiefmo

      Our (new to us) 2014 Pilot has one, as does the previous generation Ridgeline. The 2016+ models do not. Honda is moving backward!

    2. 0A5599 Avatar
      0A5599

      They just serve to dump everything onto the floor during spirited driving. It was less noticeable in the 80’s when performance cars had about 140 hp and economy cars got by with half of that.
      My Grand Cherokee had a dash shelf. My wife used to keep crayons there, to quiet the noise coming from the child seat. We came back to the parked car one summer day, and the dash had turned into a bowl of crayon soup. That was a mess that could only be cleaned up when interior temperatures were warm enough to keep the crayon residue liquid.

    3. marmer Avatar
      marmer

      My ’86 Honda Civic Wagon had this, plus a pop-up center vent, a full length dash (ambient) vent (a la modern HR-V), and a parcel shelf _under_ the dash. This is not mine but it looked just like this except for the three-spoke steering wheel. http://www.checkoutthiscar.com/2012/11/clean-blue-plate-1986-honda-civic-wagon.html

      1. Rover 1 Avatar
        Rover 1

        My 86 Civic Shuttle is the RHD mirror image of this.

  6. Batshitbox Avatar
    Batshitbox

    Bench. Front. Seats.

    1. Kiefmo Avatar
      Kiefmo

      Can we also get column-shift manuals back with our bench seats?
      I’d love/hate to learn to row through a 6-speed H-pattern on the column. That’d be a helluva skill to say I’ve mastered.

      1. Guest Avatar
        Guest

        I’d settle for column shifted automatics.

        It annoys me how much space is wasted by the console sifter in our Mazda CX-9.

        It’s not even hate against consoles, it’s just that the linkage for the shifter means that the console is huge, without the storage space to justify it!

      2. fede Avatar
        fede

        I daily drive a 5 speed manual floor shift (2009 Fiat Uno… boring, slow, simple, cheap and very dependable little thing), and ocassionally also drive a 1946 DeSoto with a 3 speed column-shift.
        More than one time I unintentionally go 3rd to 2nd looking for more gears that aren’t there… it still requires me to actively think “i’m already on third, there are on more gears”

    2. nanoop Avatar

      That’s 80s tech? As in “i486”, or “Space Shuttle”? I have to adjust my childhood perceptions, I guess.

      1. Batshitbox Avatar
        Batshitbox

        Not peculiar to the ’80s but scarcer and scarcer after them.

  7. duurtlang Avatar
    duurtlang

    Visibility.
    A significant greenhouse with pillars narrow enough to not swallow cyclists in their shade and great rearward visibility. Preferably the ability to see all four corners of the car to aid parking.

      1. Rover 1 Avatar
    1. nanoop Avatar

      Even the 90s’ visibility still beats the 2010s’ . And I took history classes!

  8. Papa Van Twee Avatar
    Papa Van Twee

    Crotch vent, I had one in my ’89 323, Since it didn’t have aircon, it was great to have semi-cool air blowing on muh twig and berries. If it were cold air, even better!

  9. Kiefmo Avatar
    Kiefmo

    How about big, lazy engines with a broad torque spread, but smooth. Like big sixes.
    If I were to pick up a 90’s or older F150, I’d want it to come with the 300/4.9L, not a V8 of any description.

    1. P161911 Avatar
      P161911

      Don’t forget the 4.9L had timing GEARS, no silly belts or chains. A hard motor to kill.

      1. Sjalabais Avatar
        Sjalabais

        Now why is that not standard? Seems like an obvious route to go….unless you’re into planned obsolescence. Never mind my question, sigh.

        1. P161911 Avatar
          P161911

          Noise and cost are the two chief concerns. They are kits to convert Chevy small block V-8s (among others) from timing chains to timing gears.

        2. Tiller188 Avatar
          Tiller188

          Packaging, too, I’d guess. Relatively simple for a cam-in-block pushrod setup, but with, say, a DOHC V-8, I can see it being pretty tricky to both fit all the gears needed and get the right reduction.
          Then again, they did it for radials, so…
          http://bristol-hercules.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/17-dec-002.jpg

          1. P161911 Avatar
            P161911

            Looks sort of like a GIANT watch.

          2. Tiller188 Avatar
            Tiller188

            …I was about to make a joke about how it probably does tick, but this particular engine used sleeve valves, so so much for that.

          3. Sjalabais Avatar
            Sjalabais

            It is such a gorgeous picture. Great engineering!

          4. nanoop Avatar

            I don’t care what it is, I want one.

          1. kogashiwa Avatar
            kogashiwa

            It’s bothering me immensely that that’s a 7 made out of 10 gears.

          2. nanoop Avatar

            7 out of 10 is not too bad. Not Nobel Price material, but you will do fine in life.

          3. Sjalabais Avatar
            Sjalabais

            Free gears for everyone! With enough gears, every car becomes pretty. And if that is not enough, I hear there are craft gears for the LS1.

          1. outback_ute Avatar
            outback_ute

            Ducati?

          2. kogashiwa Avatar
            kogashiwa

            Aye yup

  10. Desmo Avatar
    Desmo

    “check-control” test push button on various old bimmers. If you didn´t trust your own electronic gadgets you could press that button and all controls+lamps were forced to flash up at maximum warp. It was one of the most intelligent and simple buttons ever. BMW spared it when they integrated this functions into the ignition (@position ON). But that was a bad replacement as engine had to be turned off.
    http://i.auto-bild.de/ir_img/2/0/2/1/7/BMW-728i-E-23-_-Mercedes-Benz-500-SE-W-126-729×486-39e33357f3b7c8c8.jpg
    (sorry for the bad pic. What I mean is the middle button in the last row)

  11. 0A5599 Avatar
    0A5599

    Not just Windows. Turbo buttons were very popular with MS-DOS, too.

    View post on imgur.com

    1. Sjalabais Avatar
      Sjalabais

      Whoa, flashback. My first PC had a 66MHz processor. 200MHz machines were on the horizon and I couldn’t believe the future. On the same machine, I threw out Windows, because I wanted both Sim City 2000, MiG19 and a bunch of racing games all installed at the same time. 512MB wasn’t much for a harddisk.

  12. Vairship Avatar
    Vairship

    Clearly your 4 year old is a future VW Phaeton owner: http://hooniverse.info/2013/01/21/what-vw-phaeton-owners-complain-about/

    1. Sjalabais Avatar
      Sjalabais

      I hope not. Never envisioned a criminal career for my offspring.

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