Cars change over time, and so do the habits and preferences of drivers. Hence, many features that were once a staple in the industry have disappeared, with more vanishing in the near future. Some make us sadder than others, but each one has its place in our enthusiast’s heart because, at the end of the day, we love cars!
There is one beloved feature that we’ll lose very soon. The manual transmission provides the best possible engagement on twisty roads and the track and really shows a good driver.
However, it seems like the younger generation doesn’t have the same sentiment toward the stick-shift and increasingly chooses automatics, even in sports cars. On top of that, a manual transmission has no place in an electric car, meaning it will die sooner than anticipated, especially in the United States.
Naturally Aspirated Engines
Another thing that doesn’t necessarily improve performance but certainly improves the driving experience is the naturally-aspirated engine. Yes, a turbocharger can provide a much stronger kick in the back and raise the horsepower to astronomical numbers, but it isn’t nearly as good in terms of pure driving joy.
And why is that, you ask? Well, there is one word to describe it – responsiveness. In a turbocharged engine, you press the gas pedal, wait for a second, and then it starts to push forward. Meanwhile, a naturally aspirated engine has an almost instantaneous response. It’s like gaming with a corded mouse vs. a Bluetooth mouse. Oh, and don’t forget about the higher redline… Sadly, fuel efficiency and pollution regulations only allow turbocharged engines until we also lose them to electric motors.
The manual handbrake is a favorite among drifters and generally enthusiast drivers since it allows doing some shenanigans. However, we are also slowly losing the manual handbrake to an electronic one due to safety regulations. In this case, we won’t say that’s a bad thing since most passenger vehicles are better suited to an electric handbrake.
However, sports cars still need a manual handbrake because it helps you turn into a corner better and drift. A good example is the adored Toyota GR Yaris, which can’t do its rally thing without the manual handbrake. But then again, there are many other models that already jumped on the electronic parking brake bandwagon.
We aren’t really sure what happened here, but today convertibles aren’t as “in” as they were in the 70s, 80s, and 90s. Instead, people spend their money on huge crossovers and SUVs, which are more practical, sure, but nowhere near as cool.
Apart from practicality, a big issue is the fuel economy and emissions – convertibles weigh too much and aren’t aerodynamically efficient with the top down. Hence, expect to see even fewer open-top models when EVs take over since the convertible design will eat into the range. Or, maybe we are wrong here, which, of course, would make us especially happy.
Hydraulic Power Steering
Hydraulic power steering systems were a real revelation when first introduced, providing drivers with much easier navigation at lower speeds. However, this system slowly loses its place to electric power steering, much to the frustration of enthusiast drivers. One of the reasons is fuel efficiency, but also autonomous driving systems.
Electric power steering wastes less energy and allows the driving-assistance systems to control the steering for features like lane-keep assist easily. That’s okay because safety should be the number one priority, but electric steering still doesn’t provide enough feel from the road, which driver fanatics are crazy for. Fortunately, some automakers can mimic the feeling of a hydraulic power steering successfully, like Porsche.
Full-Size Spare Tires
Apart from some off-road trucks and SUVs, can you think of a vehicle that has a full-size spare tire? Neither can we. What was a great feature from the past of motoring is now almost gone, and there are no signs it will ever return.
Instead, modern cars mostly come with space-saver tires, and in the worst cases, with tire repair kits. Both solutions come with a few issues, but the biggest one is that they aren’t a permanent solution, meaning you’ll need to search for a tire repair shop asap. Again, blame emission regulations (added weight) for this, but also the race between automakers for ever-larger cargo areas.
Halogen bulbs have long been a staple in the automotive industry. They are good enough at illuminating the way forward, very cheap, and easy to replace. Today, though, most modern vehicles come with LED headlights and taillights.
LEDs are much better at illuminating the road, waste much less energy, and last for much longer. Hence, we aren’t really sad that halogen bulbs are on the way out, apart from maybe one thing – LEDs are costly and hard to replace. Although they are very durable, you’ll need to visit a repair shop when they go out – no more replacing bulbs while on the road.
Digital displays are already taking over from analog dials in modern vehicles, with only a few models left with retro-looking instrument panels. Granted, there is nothing wrong with analog dials. They are easy to read, even in direct sunlight, and never change with time, meaning the driver always knows where to look.
However, digital displays bring a few key advantages. For starters, they can display much more information, including things like navigation, music, current fuel consumption, etc. However, most of them are too complex and distracting, which isn’t good for road safety. So, we are okay with them in this case, as long as they aren’t too complicated.
Knobs and Switches
There is another analog feature disappearing from modern vehicles that worries us more, and that’s all those knobs and switches. We are okay with touchscreens for navigation and apps, but for music and climate control, physical knobs are way better guys, and for several reasons.
First of all, physical switches never change their position, so you’ll always know where to look and touch. They are also tactile, and you can easily feel them with your fingers. Both of these things mean you’ll rarely be distracted, which is great for safety. Meanwhile, touchscreens have dynamic on-screen elements that constantly change place, and no tactile feedback, at all. Sadly, it’s cheaper to produce a dashboard with no knobs and switches nowadays, so don’t expect them to stay for long.
Perhaps the most terrifying feature to disappear from future cars is the driver. Now, sure, this is not something that will happen anytime soon, but we are already seeing the first signs – every modern vehicle has driver-assistance systems that can pretty much drive the vehicle by themselves.
Besides, those ultra-large screens on the dashboard aren’t there so you can use them while driving, but to lay back and enjoy them fully. Many people are already living that life driving Tesla vehicles on Autopilot, which, although not legal, shows us that most people don’t want to drive.
Visible Exhaust Tips
We understand electric vehicles losing the exhaust tips since there is no need for them, but internal combustion cars? The worst thing is that designers replaced them with fake exhaust vents, only to save money. See, instead of using expensive stainless steel, manufacturers can use plastic disguised as metal and imitate real exhaust tips.
The problem is, fake exhausts don’t look nearly as good, and in most cases, even the biggest layman can tell they are fake. Regardless, visible exhaust tips are becoming less frequent, and that will continue as EVs gain market share. Just please don’t put fake exhaust tips on them as well, automakers!
Manual Crank Windows
Simple, easy to use, efficient, and durable are attributes that perfectly describe manual crank windows. They might not be quick and contrast with the lazy nature of modern humans, but always get the job done. Besides, it’s also much more reliable and cheaper.
Sadly, people want everything to be done at the touch of a button, meaning the once staple crank will go to history. Most modern vehicles have electric windows at every door, and there is no going back. The only thing that will remain will be probably the phrase “roll down the window.”
Car keys were a staple in the automotive industry for over a century. They are cheap, simple, easy to use, and reliable, so why replace them? Well, it’s all in the name of user experience. Granted, using a key is straightforward, but not using it is even easier. In most modern vehicles, you only need to have the key in the pocket and touch the handle to unlock the car.
Some manufacturers even let you use an app on your smartphone as a more convenient and safe way of unlocking your vehicle, but biometrics seem to be the next big step forward.
Traditional Key-Operated Ignition
As keys go extinct, so does the traditional key-operated ignition. Newer generations will never know the hassle of inserting the key, pressing the clutch, and turning the ignition to start the engine. Today, all you need to do is press a button, and the computer will do everything for you, making the whole process more convenient.
Besides, since EVs don’t require you to start an engine, even these buttons will soon be history. For instance, all you need to drive the Tesla Model S is to enter the cabin, press on the brake pedal, but the transmission into D, and press the gas pedal.
CD players and changers brought Hi-Fi stereo in-car audio systems, but more importantly, the ability to instantly jump to a song. Besides, they came with some interesting hi-tech features, like skip protection, repeat, shuffle, etc. Some people used compact discs as an anti-radar solution, although they didn’t really work.
Today, though, most vehicles don’t have CD players. Playing music through a streaming app is a much more convenient solution since you won’t need to store dozens of CDs somewhere inside the cabin. Still, CD players do produce higher-quality sound, so axing them from modern vehicles isn’t good news for audiophiles.
Remember when cars had antennas that automatically extended when you turned on the radio? It was a 90s thing that made cars that had it cooler than others and certainly a crowd-pleaser. However, retractable antennas are no more, and for a few good reasons.
First of all, they weren’t very durable – you could easily break them by hitting something. They were also not very reliable, lasting only for a few years before problems arose. Fortunately, manufacturers replaced them with shark fin antennas, which look even cooler and are more reliable.
Front Bench Seats
Having three people in the front row is an increasingly rare sight in most vehicles, other than perhaps trucks. The main reason here is safety – driving with three people on one bench is much less safe than with only two passengers. Specifically, the outer passengers are closer to the doors, which is bad for side impacts, but also, the bench can’t hold the passengers in place as successfully as single seats.
Furthermore, a front bench kills the center console, which provides storage for drinks, smartphones, purses, etc. Finally, seating in a single seat is much more comfortable for the driver, especially on longer journeys.
You might be thinking – every car on the road still has side mirrors, and you’d be right. However, until the end of this decade, most vehicles will have side cameras instead of mirrors. The main reason is efficiency – the cameras are much smaller, meaning they’ll cut through the air better. This improves fuel economy, but crucially, improves the range of EVs.
Some models, like the Honda E and Lexus ES in Europe, already have side cameras as an option, and the only reason we are not seeing them in the US is due to regulations. Nonetheless, we expect that to change very soon!
Now here is an option that shouldn’t be disappearing, since it’s very cheap and easy to implement. Namely, some new vehicles don’t have coat hangers for whatever reason. Perhaps automakers don’t see them as necessary in an age when even CEOs wear T-shirts and jeans? We’ll never know for sure, but coat hangers aren’t only there for coats.
Now, there are many aftermarket options that will do the job just fine, but why bother, really? It’s a small inexpensive plastic part, yet a useful one, even if you only rarely use it.
Real leather is still very trendy in luxury vehicles, but not as popular as it was a decade ago. The main reason is sustainability and avoiding animal cruelty. As a result, many automakers started replacing real leather with sustainable, artificial materials.
Expect to see more Alcantara in the future, but also luxurious artificial fabrics. These materials are not only better for the environment but also more comfortable – leather is not the most comfortable surface to sit on during the summer.
In the past, most cars from the dealership came with steel wheels and hubcaps. Alloy wheels were a costly option at that time because producing them was not very advanced and expensive. Today, though, alloy wheels are very cheap, and most cars come with a set from the factory, even in the base models.
As a result, hubcaps are slowly going in history. Now, some automakers still employ plastic hubcaps to protect the alloy and improve aerodynamics (Toyota Prius), but that’s very rare. Alloy wheels are also lighter than steel wheels, which improves performance and efficiency, so don’t expect to see them in future EVs.
Real Door Handles
Another feature that badly affects aerodynamic efficiency is the door handle. Yes, the impact on aerodynamics, in this case, is not huge, but in the race for higher fuel economy and especially longer range, automakers will do anything to stay on top. Hence, no physical door handles!
Many new models still have real door handles, but an increasing number of cars employ different solutions. For instance, Tesla utilizes door handles that automatically emerge from the door when you approach, while Ford used an unlock button on the rear door of the Mustang Mach-E. Expect more solutions like these to pop up soon.
Automatic Seat Belts
Seat belts are the single most important feature for car safety in the history of the automotive industry. However, there is one huge problem with the seat belt – people don’t want to wear them.
Automakers tried different solutions to make people use them, and one of the most ingenious was the automatic seat belt. All you needed to do was enter the car, put the key in the ignition, and the seat belt would automatically move into position. But why don’t modern vehicles have them? Well, it turns out they were not so clever. For starters, they were braking and getting stuck easily, and in some cases, even strangled the passengers!
We think of the 30s, 40s, and 50s in black and white since most movies from that era are like that. But, honestly, how will you remember the modern era? Well, when it comes to cars, it would probably be monochrome.
Most new models come in multiple shades of gray, silver, black, and white, and only a few bold color choices. However, customers rarely choose bold colors for whatever reason. The result is pale roads where no vehicle stands out. So bold colors are going away, but according to some researchers, the pandemic might change since people want more positivity in their lives. And to that, we say, bring it on!
Musical Car Horns
People from the 90s had a particular interest in customizing the air horns with different sounds. From police sirens to popular songs, customized car horns were everywhere. Today, though, nobody bothers, and not because it’s illegal. You can still have a police siren on your vehicle, as long as you don’t use it to take advantage of other drivers.
But just like with bold colors, our roads are very monochrome in the way they sound—no more happy car horn tunes to light up our day. Instead, we have angry drivers using the regular disturbing horns.
Hood ornaments are already a thing of the past, with only a few companies, like Rolls-Royce, still using them. Even Mercedes-Benz, a brand known for the hood ornament, stopped using it in most models instead of putting the silver star on the front grille.
Now, there are multiple reasons why automakers stopped putting hood ornaments. The most important one is pedestrian safety, where the ornaments certainly don’t help. Furthermore, people stole them like crazy, meaning you’d had to purchase replacement hood ornaments often. Finally, modern cars look much sleeker without a decoration attached like a sore thumb on the hood.
Pop-up headlights are another feature that’s closely connected to pedestrian safety, although one that most enthusiasts miss dearly. For starters, they were very cool, especially the opening/closing action. More importantly, though, carmakers could make the front ends much lower and sleeker, improving the looks and aerodynamics when they were down.
However, most pop-up headlights had reliability issues and were prone to breakage. They were also expensive to repair, and you couldn’t really do that by yourself. Besides, carmakers can achieve the sleek front-end design by using thin LED headlights today, which weren’t available in the past. Still, that doesn’t change the fact that we miss our beloved pop-up headlights.
Quarter Glass That Opens
Every vehicle has windows that can open, so what’s the big deal about the openable quarter glass? Well, it’s the amount and direction of air. When you open the window in any modern vehicle, especially at higher speeds, there is too much air coming in, especially for the rear passengers.
Moreover, many vehicles suffer from buffeting, which happens when too much air enters the cabin. Meanwhile, in classic cars, you could open the quarter glass slightly and have a gentle breeze around your face without worrying it would damage your hairstyle. Today, we have air conditioners instead, which cool the cabin much better but still don’t provide that gentle blow.
Performance tuning is a staple in the modern enthusiast community. As a result, the aftermarket industry is booming, with many performance tuning options for every popular sports car. However, that will change very soon. While you can easily tune any internal combustion engine by slapping big turbos and updating the ECU, you can’t do that with an EV.
Sure, there might be some ways to do that, like installing more battery cells and more potent electric motors, but those add-ons would cost over $10,000 for tiny improvements. So instead, the tuning world will probably focus more on looks, suspension and braking components, wheels, etc.
DIY repairs are already impossible in most modern vehicles, but you could at least change the oil on most of them. However, with EVs, none of that will be possible. To change anything in an EV, you’ll need to access the vehicle through closed software, which automakers won’t disclose with anyone other than the dealers.
Furthermore, working on a car with electricity requires high caution and deep knowledge since the current in EVs is very strong and potentially deadly. EV manufacturers might even put an end to independent car services by killing the right to repair, let alone give you the ability to work on your car.
Wooden-Beaded Seat Covers
Wooden-beaded seat covers were once trendy in the US. They looked like a luxury accessory but also massaged you while driving and kept you cool. In all honesty, though, they did nothing of that.
For starters, wooden-beaded seat covers weren’t particularly comfortable, especially on longer journeys. They also didn’t really massage you nor kept you any cooler. They were a safety hazard, though, sliding your bottom left-to-right and front-to-back every time you accelerated, turned, or braked. You know, things that you would do in your car. Hence, we don’t really regret that these quirky seat covers are disappearing.
Another thing that has lost its aura is smoking. In the 70s and 80s, people smoked everywhere, including dining areas, airplanes, and, of course, cars. It was cool in the day, you know? Well, today, smoking cigarettes is anything but cool, and automakers know that.
As a result, we can’t think of many models that come with cigarette lighters in the 12V socket. Instead, people are using the socket for charging mobile devices or other accessories.
Here is another feature directly connected to smoking, which has almost entirely disappeared from new vehicles. From 1930 to 1990, every car had multiple ashtrays on offer. There was usually a large ashtray for the front passengers and two for the rear passengers. Some vehicles even had more. Crazy times, right?
As if the smoking wasn’t enough to make the interior stink, people were putting out cigarette after cigarette in those small ashtrays, making things even worse.