Vehicle technology has grown a lot in the past decade. Many cars now come with highly advanced safety features, like driver drowsiness warning, rear seat reminders, and pedestrian detection. A few years ago, backup cameras were required to be installed in every new vehicle. Many new vehicles from manufacturers like Lexus and Kia have plenty of technology to keep passengers entertained, like smartphone integration, Bluetooth, and even rear-seat entertainment setups.
This new technology is so prevalent that previous options, like CD or cassette players, can only be found in used cars. Most vehicle cassette players were gone by 2000, but there is one car that kept it for 10 more years, according to NY Times.
The Lexus SC 430 was the last car to have a built-in cassette player
The final model of the Lexus SC 430 was also the last U.S. car to feature a cassette player. The car was later replaced with the Lexus LC, which was released in 2017. Like many new cars, it comes with Bluetooth, satellite radio, and Apple CarPlay support.
However, the Lexus SC will always be remembered as the last car to house a historic entertainment feature. Along with car radios, cassette players were standard equipment beginning in 1968. Even as compact discs became popular, cars were still manufactured with tape players well into the 90s.
From cassette tapes to compact discs
Compact discs quickly became more popular than the cassette tape due to higher audio quality. It was also easier and cheaper to burn your favorite songs onto a compact disc. CD players were first integrated into cars in the late ’80s. The first car to feature a built-in CD player was the 1987 Lincoln Town Car.
Many cars also could store multiple CDs at once with a CD changer. However, the reign of the compact discs in cars didn’t last nearly as long as the cassette. The first MP3 player was already on the market in 1997, so digital music quickly gained popularity.
You can still find a CD player in a few recent vehicles, like the 2017 Toyota Camry. However, CD players in 2020 cars are pretty much extinct.
Many cars from 2000 and later allowed drivers to play music from their MP3 players via an auxiliary outlet. However, some cars were already offering digital entertainment options. Chrysler was the first automaker to implement Bluetooth as an optional feature. While it was mainly used for hands-free phone calls at the time, some drivers used it to stream digital audio.
In 2014, Apple CarPlay was released. This groundbreaking technology allowed drivers to sync their iPods with the car’s audio system, eliminating the need for CDs altogether. Less than a year later, Android Auto was released for drivers with Android devices.
Initially, smartphone integration was only available for higher trims. Both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are now typically on the list of standard car features. Some new cars are even compatible with the Amazon Alexa. Siri Eyes Free is also available, which allows drivers to change songs and answer calls with a simple voice command.
About the Lexus SC 430
Even if it doesn’t come with smartphone integration, the Lexus SC 430 is still a great car. It’s a two-door convertible that comes with a 288-hp V8 engine. In addition to its cassette player, it also comes with Bluetooth compatibility. It was eventually discontinued due to slow sales.
If you have an older car, like the Lexus SC 430, you can still use the cassette player to play digital tunes. Cassette adaptors can be purchased for around $5 and can be plugged into any phone or MP3 player’s headphone jack. If you’ve got a bigger budget, you can even add Apple CarPlay using an aftermarket device.