Many features of old cars have been phased out in the auto industry—but not forgotten. A lot of unique features of classic cars and trucks are long gone because of safety and performance innovations. Others have fallen by the wayside because of changes in car buyers’ tastes. But a few features found in vintage cars are still available. The automatic vs. manual transmission debate among automakers nearly phased out straight-drive cars in the 1970s. Thankfully, we can still find a few rolling off the assembly line even in 2024. Today, we’ll take a trip down memory lane and check out iconic old car features that are no longer available.
1. Manual Windows
Of all the features of old cars not used anymore, manual windows are something most of us won’t miss. Manual window handles were known to break or entirely fall off the door and certainly didn’t add style. The crank-style handles were much less convenient and slower than modern power windows. It’s interesting to note that power windows date all the way back to the ’40s. The innovative feature was typically found only on luxury vehicles until the ’90s—and you know the rest of the story!
2. Wood Side Paneling
The most famous woodie was introduced in the early 1940s with Ford’s Mercury Woodie Wagon, and customers could choose light or dark wood for a personalized look. By the ’50s, using natural wood in vehicles simply wasn’t practical due to safety and maintenance concerns. Some manufacturers tried to keep the style alive and offered woodies with plastic, metal, or wood-grain decals, but the new models never caught on. A style that was all the rage in the ’40s and ’50s slowly lost appeal and would quickly go out of style.
3. Wing Windows
Wing, or vent, windows were small windows separate from the main side windows and operated independently. As the name implies, vent windows were handy for cooling the interior and getting a breath of fresh air. Wing windows were standard on most four-door cars for decades, but by the late ’70s, air conditioning systems sent this old car feature packing. We won’t miss the air turbulence and typical leaks, but we will miss how easy it was to get in when our keys were locked inside.
4. Cigarette Lighters and Ashtrays
Back when cigarette companies ran commercials and other ad campaigns about how cool and relaxing smoking was, we just didn’t know any better. Thankfully, we know a lot more about smoking today, and it seems like fewer and fewer people smoke cigarettes or turn to vaping. But when smoking was widely accepted as a harmless pleasure, ashtrays and cigarette lighters were all but standard equipment in the ’50s and ’60s. These bygone features of classic cars faded into the history books after the ’90s, thanks to public awareness of the hazards of smoking.
Convertibles never go out of style—they’re always cool. But there was a time when T-tops were the coolest of all. If you aren’t familiar with this unique take on the convertible, T-tops were two sections that could be removed from either side of a bar down the middle. These were classic car features in many sports cars of the ’70s and ’80s and turned out to be a short-lived fad. T-tops aren’t cool anymore, but they still make many sporty convertibles (some even have manual transmissions!).
6. Chrome Bumpers
Around the turn of the century, manufacturers began installing bumpers on cars for protection in low-speed accidents. As the trend evolved, bumpers became more than a safety feature. Car makers began designing bumpers for specific models to differentiate them and add some flair. These designs were unique to each manufacturer, but they all had one thing in common—chrome. Chrome bumpers and other accents were wildly popular because they had a brilliant shine and looked classy. Because of new safety regulations, the mostly decorative chrome bumper disappeared in the early ’70s.
7. 8-Track, Cassette, and CD Players
In the ’70s, you could buy an 8-track tape player at auto parts stores and even find them with factory stereos. The trend didn’t last long, as the 8-track tape players were replaced by cassette players a few years later. By the ’80s, CD players were seen as cutting-edge technology and quickly replaced cassette players. CD players lived a much longer life than their predecessors and can still be found in new cars—but not for long. Most car manufacturers are phasing out CD players thanks to streaming media, Bluetooth, and other innovations.
Car Time Supercenter
We hope car enthusiasts enjoyed the trip down memory lane. So many have gone by the wayside, most for good reasons. We still miss features of old cars like shiny chrome and super-cool T-Tops. Of course, you won’t find any old cars at our dealership in Tucson—only quality used vehicles with modern features, affordable options, and hometown service!
There are good reasons people will buy their next used car in Tucson from Car Time Supercenter. But I think we are one of the most trusted used car dealerships mainly because we treat everyone like family. My family has provided quality, dependable local used cars to Tucson customers since 1984, and I’m proud to be a part of our continued success.
Like many family-owned businesses, I grew up going to work with my dad. Falling in love with cars was natural because of my father’s passion, and eventually, I came to love the car business just like him. I officially joined the Car Time Supercenter team in 2012, starting in the finance department. Over the past decade, I’ve learned the used car business and how to treat customers from my family and industry resources.
Today, I oversee marketing, social media, inventory, and reconditioning, so I play an essential role in delivering local Tucson used car buyers the best experience possible. I also help our family business keep up with the times while providing old-fashioned customer service. From attending NADA classes to becoming Allstate certified for back-end products, I continue to learn and add skills to serve our customers better.