Car technology has evolved faster and faster throughout the years. What was once a mind-blowing innovation became simply outdated, unnecessary, or progress. Some of today’s car commodities evolved from people we know, or even ourselves, grew up with. Let’s take some time to appreciate them.
1. The 8 Track Tape Player (a.k.a Stereo 8)
From the mid 1960’s to late 70’s, the Stereo 8 was very popular in the United States. It was created by Bill Lear of Lear Jet Corporation, along with Ampex, Ford Motor Company, General Motors, Motorola and RCA Victor Records.
2. Car Phones
From late 1970s to 1980s, car phones were “the” car accessory. However, its demand decreased severely with the mobile phone boom in the 1990s. Later on, the hands free kits for cellphones caused the complete discontinuation of Car Phones.
3. Headlight Wipers
In 1970s, Swedish car manufacturer Saab were the first to introduce headlight wipers in its 99 model. Designed to be introduced as a safety feature, the electronic headlight wiper combined with washer system. Manufacturers like Mercedes and BMW began to install these. In early 2000s, the headlight wipers were removed from most cars and just kept the headlight jet washer. After all, the wiper isn’t as essential on the headlights as it is on the windshield.
4. Landau Roof
It was popular in the 1960s, mostly because it was a “fake convertible”. Some used the term “Town Landau”, meaning a wider rear pillar with no quarter windows and they were made from vinyl.
5. T-Tops (in UK: T-Bar)
An automobile roof with removable panels to the sides from a rigid bar along from the center of one structural bar between pillars to the center of the next structural bar. They’re usually made out of auto grade safety glass. T-Tops became famous because it appeared in the movie Smokey & the Bandit. The first U.S T-Top built mobile was the Chevrolet Corvette coupe 1968. The T-Top made the Corvette so famous that it outsold.
6. Automatic Seat Belts
The automatic seat belts worked once the door was closed and/or the engine was started. They were created as a counter measure against low usage rates of manual seat belts, mostly in the U.S. In 1975, the first commercial car to use them was Volkswagen Rabbit. Most car manufacturers discontinued the automatic seat belts once driver side airbags became mandatory on all passenger vehicles.
7. Talking Cars
In early 1980s, Toyota and Datsun put micro chips in their cars with phrases to remind the driver of certain things. For example, “Headlights are on” and “Parking Brake is On.”
8. Hood Mounted Tachometers
They were introduced during the 1960s and were mostly seen on muscle cars and when the muscle car era ended, the hood mounted tachometers did as well.
9. Hood Mounted Turn Signals
Similar story to the Hood Mounted Tachometers. This was very useful on v8 powered cars because they were so loud that it blocked the indicator sound of the turn signal being left on.
10. Cassette Tape Player
This was a great invention that had a good run of 30 years until they were being replaced by CDs. A key to its success was because of the small size of the tape which was more convenient than the 8-track. Cassette players in cars were the first to adopt automatic reverse of the tape, which allowed the cassette to be replayed over and over without manual intervention.