Hooniverse Asks- What's the Best In-Car Gadget?

Once was the day, before infomercials made us feel inadequate over our lack of super-absorbent ShamWOW! Back then, in-car entertainment was limited to AM radio, in-car dining usually involved an external tray and a girl on roller skates, and while you couldn’t tell with pin-point accuracy where on the globe you happened to be positioned, you could at least determine your direction via a water-filled compass suction-cupped to the windscreen.

Today, we have Big Gulp-swallowing cup holders,  hundreds of satellite radio stations from which to choose, DVD systems are commonplace, and GPS devices badger us to exit, in two miles. A lot of these marvels of the information age can be a distraction while driving, and laws are being enacted across the nation banning sexting while behind the wheel.

North by Northwest
North by Northwest

But that’s not to say that some of these gadgets aren’t beneficial to both commuter and hoon alike. Having the right kick-ass driving song for that mountain road is just a flick of the iPod away. G-meters and accelerometers in some cars can track your performance whether it’s around turn nine at Willow Springs, or attacking the apex of that on-ramp on your way to work.

So, unless you are you an automotive luddite, who sticks to his AM and compass, you’ve probably been exposed to some of these surprise and delight car contrivances. If so, which gadget is your favorite?

Image sources: [Gizmodo, SMRLabs]

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31 responses to “Hooniverse Asks- What's the Best In-Car Gadget?”

  1. Maymar Avatar

    I'm pretty content with an aux in plug. Does something I care about, and there's not much to go wrong.
    But I'd be lying if I said I don't sometimes appreciate when my fiance brings along her GPS, when we're going somewhere unfamiliar.

  2. scroggzilla Avatar

    A pizza oven.

  3. engineerd Avatar

    The dinging sound when I leave my lights on and turn off the ignition. Because having a dead battery at the end of a long day at the office really blows.

  4. Tim Odell Avatar
    Tim Odell

    My newest car's most new-techy features are a compass in the mirror and an in-dash 6 CD changer (which can't read .mp3s).
    I could go for better audio in the WRX, GPS in the Jeep, and a functioning volt meter in the 67 Ford.
    Normally I'm not real big on tech in cars, but when I saw the GTR's eight customizable data readout screens, I had a datagasm. Either go full-technorobotic or go home.

    1. jeremy! Avatar

      then you could catch yourself trying to understand you g-meter mid turn while you drive off a cliff!

  5. P161911 Avatar

    Probably one of the most useful tech features in any of the cars that I won is the % of oil life left gauge on my wife's Trailblazer. It monitors engine speed, load, and actual plug firings. I'm too lazy to change the oil every 3,000 or 5,000 miles or whatever, but this way I know I haven't gone too lone.

  6. Deartháir Avatar

    Wow, someone has almost as much stuff inside that Mustang as I have in the Corrado.
    I have a DVD touchscreen, integrated iPhone, bluetooth handsfree calling, GPS, radar detector, laptop with iPhone tethered internet, integrated Sirius kit, CD changer, upgraded speakers all around, and alarm system installed. Most of the time, I turn it all off and listen to the engine.
    But I can't stress enough how fantastic that DVD system is for long drives. When I go visit my parents, I bring along a few good movies, and it feels like the drive takes an hour, instead of the 9 hours it actually takes. I've arrived at my parents place and sat in the driveway for a few minutes finishing the movie. Most of the time I drive with the screen folded shut so it doesn't serve as a distraction, but no matter how you slice it, it's paid for itself many times over in my mind.

    1. SSurfer321 Avatar

      Is that Engineerd's ride?

  7. Alff Avatar

    I'd show an example of my favorite but not sure how to post a photo. A little help, anyone?

    1. JeepyJayhawk Avatar

      type =img src=WEBLINKOFIMAGE= change = into <>

    2. Alff Avatar

      <img src=http://www.alfabb.com/bb/forums/attachments/spider-1966-up/107511d1214706962-spider-shift-knobs-shift-knob.jpg>

  8. Deartháir Avatar

    Back then, in-car entertainment was limited to AM radio, in-car dining usually involved an external tray and a girl on roller skates,
    Good lord, man. Just how old are you, anyhow? Most of that stuff was gone when I was born!

    1. smalleyxb122 Avatar

      Perhaps those things were gone in your area, but I'm only a few years older than you, and we had a Dog 'N Suds (in Illinois) that still had carhop service (sans rollerskates) for many of my cognizant years, and I'm fairly sure that most of the Stewart's Root Beer stands in NJ still have carhop service ot this day, but they are typically male carhops (bummer).
      And while it wasn't the norm by the time, when my mom bought her Reliant new in '88, it had the option of AM only radio, which she begrudgingly opted for (she would have preferred no radio at all).

      1. Deartháir Avatar

        Yeah, when I was young, the A&W was still serving drive-thru with carhop girls on rollerskates, but only on weekends, and more as a novelty than anything else. It was mostly just an excuse to take a cheap-shot at Graverobber.

        1. Charles_Barrett Avatar

          I'll see your cheap-shot and add one more to irritate Graverobber a wee bit more… He was born one year to the day before me (which means his birthday is coming up on the day after Thanksgiving).
          Graverobber is, however, four years younger than my Randy…who went to Burbank High with Ron Howard… there:
          Ron Howard -> American Graffiti -> Happy Days -> car hops -> Bob's Big Boy -> Jay Leno -> cool old cars.
          The circle is complete…

    2. Alff Avatar

      I just want to know if it was good for the girl on roller skates.

      1. Deartháir Avatar

        It took me a minute to get that, but when I did, I suddenly had images of how hard it would be for her to really push off against the vinyl seats…

    3. Target29 Avatar

      I agree, at least my first car had an eight track tape player with a Prism tape stuck on a constant loop….

    4. jeremy! Avatar

      older then the sands of time.
      mitch when you going to swing down los angeles way so you can join us as we distract team unknown fluids from being able to work on there car

      1. Deartháir Avatar

        I would absolutely love to… however "swinging down" to Lost Angles involves quite a few hours of driving. Somewhere around 45 hours of driving, if I recall off the top of my head. And while I'm sure it would be a lovely drive, I'd prefer to have the Corrado in better shape before I try it.

    5. Tanshanomi Avatar

      The one bright spot after our totaled '73 Bonneville four-door hardtop was replaced with a '76 Granada Ghia coupe was the addition of not only FM radio (KY-102!) but, —yes — in-dash 8-track! Whoo-hoo!

  9. Tanshanomi Avatar

    The accelerator pedal is my personal favorite.

  10. JeepyJayhawk Avatar

    Mp3 thru amp directly into speakers. Map. Compass.

  11. FuzzyPlushroom Avatar

    Same here.
    Tribble: 2GB SanDisk Sansa m250. Head unit: Panasonic tape deck with 3.5mm line-in. Road trips: So much better (until I take a sharp turn and Tribble's AAA battery flies out and hides under the passenger seat because the damn cover is absent).
    I don't use a map as often as I should. (I should definitely keep a compass, though.) My usual unfamiliar-place tactic is 'look it up on Google Maps, stare for a bit, check StreetView for important turns (where available)'. It doesn't usually fail me.

    1. JeepyJayhawk Avatar

      Whenever visiting a town, get lost and find your way back. Guarantee that you will know where you are going by the time you get back.

  12. Alff Avatar

    Sprint Navigation (free) on an Android phone.

  13. engineerd Avatar

    Ha! No way. First, that one's got an auto tranny, mine's manual much to the wife's chagrin. Then, I think the only gadget in my car is my bluetooth headset I keep in there to call the wife when I'm on the way home.
    Although, I have looked at an LCD-screen stereo system for mine. As Dearthair points out, it would make the 10-hour drive to Minnesota each year seem like less. However, for that drive we just bring the portable DVD player we got on sale at Walmart.
    I guess the bottom line is, I'm way too cheap to have that much stuff.

  14. LTDScott Avatar

    A radar detector, right Glucker?

  15. Age_of_Aerostar Avatar

    I haven't brought many gadgets into the Mustang, besides radar detector and cell phone, but those are pretty common.
    The one that came with the car that I really like, (besides the V8) is the MyColor. Even 4 years later, I still frequently change it around.

  16. Deborah L Halvorson Avatar

    WOW 🙂 It’s too bad more people haven’t heard about this site, it covered exactly what I needed this morning XD

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