Old Car Technologies That Should Be Resurrected

If there ever is an object that is in a state of continuous evolution, it’s the automobile. Car manufacturers are constantly changing the technology in their cars to make them perform better, cheaper or just to change things for the next model year (think paint colors). The driving force behind all of this, of course, is the need to stay ahead of the competition so a given company sells more cars. Sometimes, though, in the name of progress, things get designed out of cars that actually worked pretty well. Like us, the folks at Legacy of Island City, a local Dodge, Chrysler, Ram, Jeep dealer in Island City, OR, wondered why.  Let’s take a look at several car features from the old days that are no longer with us but actually were pretty useful. Should the manufacturers bring them back?

Quarter glass “Wing Windows”

Wing windows were small triangles of glass on a car’s front doors that pivoted out to direct air into the vehicle. These things worked great in the summer when you wanted a cool breeze blowing. They were a staple of automobile design for several decades but started to disappear in the late 1960s. Trucks were able to hold onto them longer, with the last of them disappearing just a couple decades ago.  Wonder if we will ever see them again? They certainly worked well.

Fender mirrors

Virtually all cars today have their side view mirrors mounted on their doors. This is a good location because they are close to the driver and they look good from a designers point of view.  Not long ago, though, many mirrors were mounted on the front fenders of cars. This was a great location because the driver was always looking forward and, frankly, it looked cool. Fender mirrors were especially popular with Japanese automakers like Honda and Datsun. All the manufactures started to phase them out when people began to complain about the difficulty of manually adjusting them. You had to get out of the car to do it or get a friend to help.  

Bench seats

Ah, the old bench seat. Cars and trucks had these things for over half a century. According to Cars.com, they actually weren’t phased out until 2013 when General Motors was the last to make them. Automotive executives blame their demise on safety issues and a general lack of interest in the old design. It’s too bad they aren’t an option anymore. They were easy to get in and out of and you could carry a lot of people in a car with bench seats. And, as for dates at local drive-in movies, they were mandatory.  Maybe the elimination of drive-in movies played into their demise?

Column shifters

The column shifter was the favored location for a shifter on millions of cars for decades. They were shifting levers mounted right on the steering wheel, not on the floor.  It was a great place to put the shifter because it was completely out of the way. Ever heard a person say that the transmission in their old car was a “three on the tree.” This phrase was a popular way to describe a manual three speed transmission with the shifter on the column.  We think that manufacturers should bring back column shifters.