Recently, we published a post discussing eight things you only find in the oldest of used cars. It mentioned things like ashtrays, cigarette lighters, and AM/FM radios. Writing it sure brought back a lot of memories. At any rate, the post has proved so popular that we decided to follow up with a sequel, so to speak.
This post will discuss eight more things you will only find in older cars. And when we say ‘older’, we mean much older. Most of the things covered here have not been seen since the late seventies and early eighties. A few haven’t been seen since the 1960s.
1. 8-Track and Cassette Players
The first car entertainment systems where the AM radios introduced in the 1930s. Back then, a car radio was an expensive option only the wealthy could afford. As radios gradually got cheaper, car companies started looking at other options. They landed on the 8-track player in the 1960s, followed by the cassette player in the 1970s.
If you were born at any point after the 1980s, it is quite possible you have never laid eyes on either one of these devices. Eight-track players haven’t been installed in cars since the late 1970s. Cassette players lasted until the early 1990s, but they were eventually replaced by CD players.
It is rare for us to pay cash for cars that have either 8-track or cassette players. We still do get cars with CD players from time to time, but even these are proving hard to come by.
2. High Beam Foot Switches
Your car’s headlights have both a standard and a high beam setting. In all likelihood, you move between the two using a dimmer switch located either on your steering wheel or the column. But prior to designs that called for column-mounted dimmer switches, the switches were on the floor.
A typical design would have the foot switch to the far left of the brake. The switch was simple enough. Press it to activate your high beams, then again to return to standard operation. It was easy, convenient, and reliable.
3. Front Lap Belts
Believe it or not, there was a time when people didn’t wear seat belts. Their cars may have had belts, but they didn’t bother strapping themselves in. Back then, a lot of cars only had standalone lap belts in the front and nothing in the back. Every now and again we will get a call from a client looking to sell a car in San Diego or San Bernardino County, a car old enough to have just the front lap belts.
These days, car companies cannot get away with lap belts alone. In the front seat, they must install combination lap and shoulder harnesses. Regulations still allow for single-lap belts in the back, but most companies have abandoned them. Most rear seat belts are combination lap and shoulder harnesses.
Despite single-lap belts not offering as much protection as a combination harness, we can say one thing for them: they were a whole lot more comfortable. They certainly didn’t restrict your movement as much. Then again, that is probably why they were done away with.
4. Fake Wood
Wood was a common material choice among carmakers in the twenties, thirties, and forties. But by the time the 1950s rolled around, any genuine wood remaining in a car’s design was replaced by fake wood. Nobody was fooled by the imitation material though. Not only that, but it also looked downright cheesy.
Fake wood came into its own in the 1960s and seventies. It was especially popular as a design ‘enhancement’ for family station wagons, passenger vans, and any vehicle likely to be used on the west coast. So many images of California beaches lined with cars featuring fake wood sideboards come to mind. Thank goodness the trend died.
5. Tail Fins
One of the signatures of auto design from the late forties into the early sixties was the tail fin. The most coveted cars on the market had sweeping tail fins that told every other driver on the road to get out of the way. Tail fins have long since disappeared. So much so that, if you were to sell a used car with tail fins in Ventura, you might be the only one to have done so in decades.
6. Large Trunks
Most of those older cars with tail fins also had obscenely large trunks. As the old joke says, some of those trunks were big enough to hold a couple of bodies. And why not? If you are making the rear end large enough to accommodate sweeping tail fins, you might just as well build in extra trunk space.
These days, trunks are tiny by comparison. Some trunks are so small that you would be lucky to fit a suitcase and carry-on in them. It is truly a shame.
7. Front Vent Windows
What did people used to do if they wanted a little fresh air but didn’t want to roll down the window? They opened the front vent window. Front vent windows were small, triangular windows mounted on a hinge. You could crack them open just a little bit without having to worry about a full blast of air or rain getting in your face. It is too bad these are gone.
8. Horn Rings
Last but not least are horn rings. A horn ring was a separate ring on the steering wheel designed to allow you to honk your horn without taking your hands off completely. You could hold the horn ring and honk the horn with your thumb. Horn rings are not necessary these days thanks to redesigned horns that are easier to access.
We pay cash for cars in Los Angeles, Orange County, and throughout Southern California. Despite all the cars we buy, we haven’t seen these eight features in quite some time. But that’s the way it goes. They don’t make cars like they used to.