Remember These Vintage Car Accessories?October 17, 2014
With touchscreens, cameras and even autopilot, car technology leaps ahead every year. Paradoxically, old gadgets stick around in cars longer than you might expect. “Car technology moves at a much slower pace than consumer electronics,” Edmunds.com observes, noting that the 2010 Lexus SC 430 was the last car to offer a tape deck. Which of these classic car accessories do you remember?
Nine vintage car accessories you rarely see anymore
- The CRT screen. The now-ubiquitous touchscreen is a lot older than you think. The 1986 Buick Riviera featured a Graphic Control Center, a 3- by 4-inch, green-and black CRT screen in the dashboard that let the driver control the radio and climate and check diagnostics with a touch. The screen was discontinued in 1990; see a still-working, 1989 version of this vintage car accessory here.
- Cigarette lighter. Push it in, wait 30 seconds, and pop — out comes the cigarette lighter with its glowing orange coil. That familiar ritual has faded as carmakers have replaced the cigarette lighter with USB ports for charging mobile devices. (And how; the 2015 Chevy Suburban includes up to 12 charging locations with six USB ports.) Lighters and ashtrays began disappearing in the mid-1990s.
- Ice maker. Say what? With its monorail-esque shape, the Toyota Van wasn’t the coolest vehicle on the road in 1984, but it was the coldest. The van included the oddest of all vintage car accessories: optional icemaker in the center console. The “shoebox-size refrigerator was cooled with air-conditioning refrigerant lines and came with spill-proof ice trays,” according to Popular Mechanics.
- Hood ornaments. Leaping jaguars and chrome rams, despite being iconic classic car accessories, have become a thing of the past. Cars.com cites two reasons upright hood ornaments have gone away: a sleeker design aesthetic and European safety regulations designed to protect pedestrians. Mercedes-Benz hasn’t given up on its iconic three-pointed star hood ornament, however, and in 2013 began offering an illuminated version.
- Pop-up headlights. There was something indescribably cool about headlights flipping up out of a sports car’s sleek hood. Pop-up headlights hit the zenith of their popularity in the 1970s, Slate reports, because they allowed automaker to conform to headlight-height rules while maintaining a car’s low front profile. Since then, safety regulations have made it tougher to incorporate pop-up headlights. One of the last cars to have them was the 2004 Chevy Corvette C5.
- CB radio. 1970s and ’80s kids may remember playing with the citizen’s band radio on road trips, hollering “10-4, good buddy!” into the receiver and hoping to catch truckers saying naughty words. Cell phones made in-car CB radios superfluous for things like checking traffic conditions and pin-pointing speed traps, but some enthusiasts still swear by these vintage car accessories.
- Eight-track player. From the mid-1960s to the 1970s, eight-track (or Stereo 8) players were classic car accessories. The chunky cartridges offered a way to listen to music that was far more convenient than an in-car record player, despite the inability to rewind and a tendency to jam. The eight-track player was replaced by the smaller, more versatile cassette tape.
- Stick shift. Being able to drive a stick-shift car is still a point of pride for many people, but manual transmissions are becoming rare. Today you’ll find manual transmissions on about 10 percent of vehicles made in North America, down from 35 percent in 1980. Even some serious sports cars, like the Alfa Romeo 4C, offer only an automatic transmission.
- Multi-disc CD player. Not all that long ago, the height of in-car audio technology was the multi-disc changer. With six CDs stacked inside your dashboard, the music never had to stop. (Ever wondered how multi-disc changers do that neat trick of sucking in and spitting out CDs? Watch this video.) But the CD player has given way to systems integrated with smartphones and satellite radio. General Motors, Kia and Chrysler removed the player from certain models beginning in 2013. Soon, the CD player will go the way of the tape deck, eight-track player and other classic car accessories.
If you have any of these accessories built into your car, chances are good that you should be paying less for auto insurance. Compare car insurance rates today, and make sure you’re paying what you should.