Car buying was a completely different experience just 25 or 30 years ago. Before the advent of digital technology, cars were a lot more mechanical – both inside and out. That meant that there were certain features that died when digital technology took over. Many of these features can only be found today in the oldest of used cars.
We have to say that we don’t buy a ton of used cars dating back to the 1990s and earlier. However, we do buy a lot of late-model cars in San Diego, Los Angeles, and throughout Southern California. If you are looking to sell your used car, give us a call. We would be happy to give you a quote and, if you accept, come pick up your used car in short order.
In the meantime, we thought it might be kind of fun to discuss some of the features of old. You will only find these things in the oldest of used cars:
1. Front Bench Seats
These days, manufacturers install bucket seats for the driver and front seat passenger. That was not the case in the old days. It used to be that cars had bench seats in both the front and rear. Cars were a lot bigger back then, too. A good bench seat was large enough for a driver, an adult passenger, and at least two kids in between them.
Now, you only find bench seats in the rear of some sedans, minivans, and SUVs. But even they are not the same as the bench seats of old. They are more molded and smaller in size. That’s too bad because modern seats limit capacity.
2. Manually Operated Windows
Can you imagine having to open the car window by grabbing a handle and rotating it? That is exactly how we did things thirty years ago. Only the most expensive luxury vehicles had electric windows back then. For those of us considered commoners, windows were operated manually. It was all well and good until the handle gear stripped or the internal mechanism broke. Then your window was stuck.
3. Turn Signals with Sound
If you are old enough to remember the Reagan administration, you are probably also old enough to remember a time when turn signals actually made noise. Back in the 70s and 80s, turn signals would click. That’s how you knew they were working. If you pushed the lever and didn’t hear a click, either the front or rear signal had a bad bulb.
Somewhere around the mid-to-late eighties, those clicks were abandoned in favor of beeps. The beeps were more annoying, but they still did the trick. All sounds emanating from the turn signal have been abandoned in modern cars. Maybe that’s why some people drive for miles with a turn signal flashing. They don’t know it’s on and there’s no sound to tell them.
4. Spare Tires
Thanks to the fact that modern tires can continue to operate safely for fifty or so miles after being damaged, fewer manufacturers are including spare tires with their vehicles. Instead, customers get emergency inflation kits. We older drivers are not sure how we feel about this.
Then again, we weren’t too happy when the donut replaced the full-size spare tire. We managed to adapt, though. Likewise, today’s younger drivers are fine driving around without spare tires. An emergency inflation kit works well enough. And even if not, help is now just a cell phone call away.
5. Ashtrays and Lighters
Nearly every car manufactured from the 1950s through the early 1990s had ashtrays and cigarette lighters built in. Those were the days when smoking was a lot more popular than it is today. Consistent declines in smoking rates have led car manufacturers to stop installing them.
In place of the lighter, you can still find power ports accessible with a 12V adapter. But even they are starting to go by the wayside in favor of powered USB ports.
6. AM/FM Radios
While modern cars still offer AM/FM radio reception, the radios themselves have long been extinct. Today’s cars offer digital entertainment systems. The old AM/FM analog radio just doesn’t exist anymore. Come to think of it, how many people actually listen to live radio these days?
Back in the day, there was something special about driving down the road with the radio blaring. You never knew what song was coming up next. You also had to listen to the cheesy commercials between songs. Today, everything is either streamed or played from a phone over Bluetooth. Where is the fun in that?
7. Manual Gear Shifts
Of all the technologies that have gone by the wayside, the one that stands out the most to old car enthusiasts is the manual transmission. Yes, it is still possible to special order a manual car with a gearshift on the floor, but very few people do. The vast majority of new cars sold every year in this country have automatic transmissions.
You could make the case that computer technology has made automatic transmissions more fuel-efficient and reliable. Back in the day, this wasn’t the case. Cars with manual transmissions used a lot less fuel. The transmissions themselves were more reliable. And this writer thinks they were a lot more fun to drive as well.
8. Huge Steering Wheels
Last but not least, only the oldest used cars boast the huge steering wheels that used to define how easy it was to keep your car under control. Those huge steering wheels were a necessity in the days before power steering. The larger the steering wheel, the easier it was to take a corner at speed. And the bigger a car’s wheelbase, the bigger the steering wheel had to be.
Today’s tiny steering wheels remind us of just how far automotive technology has come. New cars are great, but some of us miss the old cars we grew up with. Fortunately, the oldest of used cars still have all those features otherwise locked away in our memories.