Skip to main content

If you remember the days of the 8-track tape deck, vinyl records, cassette tapes, or CDs, you know all about the evolution of technology. Today, we don’t use any of these devices for our music unless we want to. There was a time when these devices were necessary to hear recorded music. The same is true of many classic car features offered in older models. These items were absolutely essential to some consumers, but you won’t find any of them today because they are useless in the modern driving world.

A retractable antenna was an excellent feature on a classic car

Retractable Car Antenna
Retractable Car Antenna | Getty Images

In most areas, a car is considered in the classic category when it’s 25 years old. That means we’re looking at vehicles from 1997 and older. The retractable antenna was pretty cool, but some radio antennas were built into the windshield by the early 1990s. Antennas received radio signals and were often the subject of vandalism, making the retractable models more appealing. Today, we see smaller roof-mounted versions or integrated models. Good buy antennas.

You don’t see cigarette lighters any longer

You know these ports as the 12-volt port used to plug in your charging adaptors, but they once had another function. Most used to have a small device plugged into them that worked like your kitchen toaster. Power from the outlet heated up the coils, allowing drivers to light their cigarettes. Along with the built-in ashtrays, these items began to go away; once smoking fell out of favor, the lighters went away. All we’re left with now is the 12-volt power port, which is extremely useful.

Pop-up headlights are a cool classic car feature that was utterly useless

Here is a Corvette with Pop-Up Headlights. These headlights are a classic car feature you don't see today.
Corvette with Pop-Up Headlights | Riley via Wiki Commons

If you lived during the 1980s, you saw many cars winking at you. This decade brought us the pop-up headlights, which was a very cool feature designed to make cars more aerodynamic. Unfortunately, one of the two motors for these headlights often failed even on expensive cars. Because drivers couldn’t rely on these headlights to come up and light the way when needed, they became an extinct and banned item in the automotive world.

Be thankful manual steering became extinct

Before the days of power steering, turning a car while driving slowly was like wrestling a bear. Manual steering systems weren’t too bad in small cars, but larger vehicles were difficult to maneuver at low speeds. Once power steering became widespread, very few vehicles ever had manual steering again. One of the few modern exceptions to this is the Alfa Romeo 4C.

The car phone is a classic car status symbol

Early days of the car phone use.  No an extinct classic car feature
Car Phone | Shutterstock Images

Mobile phones began in the 1970s, and only those driving exotic expensive cars or riding in the back of limousines could afford them. Some automakers built these items into exotic cars starting in the 1980s. Today, we don’t need a car phone. Everyone has a mobile phone, and the phone with a cord attached to the car is gone. Of course, so are most of the home phones with cords.

Your car used to have a choke, much like your lawnmower

If you have a gas-powered lawnmower with a choke lever, you know this is necessary to adjust the fuel-to-air mixture until the engine is running smoothly. According to HotCars, classic car models used the choke for the same purpose. Many cars with carburetors needed a manual choke to get them started. Be glad this useless feature is now extinct from the modern driving world.