While the list of available features in modern cars consists mostly of high-tech safety and infotainment kits, automotive history showcases several options that have quite a lot more personality. Some are excessive, some are practical, and some are outright bizarre. Check out the 13 most out-there car features we could dig up—if there’s one we missed, post it in the Hagerty Forums below.
Bentley Bentayga: Custom falconry set by Mulliner
When was the last time you powered up the GPS in your SUV… to track a bird? On the absurdly slim chance you’re the proud owner of a Bentley Bentayga equipped with the custom falconry set crafted by Mulliner, you have this privilege. No more trekking to Wal-Mart for a frozen farmhouse bird—set off to forested glens with your carnivorous companion and bring home a rabbit. Mulliner’s falconry set comes complete with a little perch topped with a perfectly manicured circle of (fake) grass.
Bentley Bentayga: Custom fly fishing set by Mulliner
The call of the wild that Mulliner’s custom fly fishing set equips you to answer is more of a soft coo than a London-style howl. Relax in rich non-Corinthian leather on your way to snaring dinner with this custom Bentayga option, whose success inspired the falconry set.
For those who wish to be swaddled in luxurious vapors and sipping classy beverages even before arriving at a posh destination, behold the Cadillac Eldorado Brougham. Two years (1957–58) and 704 units sums up this extravagant offering’s production. Each model was a veritable cornucopia stuffed with electronic amenities and luxury accessories that ranged from powder puffs and perfume to silver tumblers and a cigarette dispenser.
1954 Rolls-Royce Vignale: Rear seat toilet
Step back three years and across the pond from the ’57 Eldorado Brougham to the 1954 Rolls-Royce Vignale—the one and only Rolls-Royce built by Alfredo Vignale Coachworks in Italy. One Joseph Maschuch shipped a long-wheel-base Silver Wraith chassis to this coachbuilding firm, specifying that his car be slathered in green paint and chrome and equipped with a toilet. Maschuch told friends it was just to chill champagne. Sure.
Mid-century GM: Mason jar vacuum ash trays
The vacuum ashtray in GM offerings from 1957–60 hardly saved smokers much energy compared to tossing butts out the window, but the option had to rank among the most entertaining smoking activities. Stuff the end of a cigarette into a chrome funnel, push a button, and you could watch ash and butt swirl into a mason jar mounted under the dash and powered by the engine vacuum.
These things had to be almost as exciting as those pneumatic vacuum tubes at the bank drive-through. This one’s for sale on eBay for a whopping $1500.
From flower vases to semaphore turn signals, the cute little Beetle packs the funk factor. In 1961, the Bug featured a less aesthetically pleasing (but even quirkier) mechanical setup, omitting a motorized windshield fluid pump for a system that shunted air from the spare tire to pressurize the windshield fluid. You simply over-inflated your spare tire and washed away. A special valve in the washer fluid bottle made sure that the pressure didn’t fall below 26 PSI, so you’d always have enough air in the spare to get you home. Of course, by that point you might not be able to see through the bug-splattered windshield.
A perfectly understandable reaction to owning an Aztek would be the desire to drive deep into the woods and hide in shame forever. Whether or not Pontiac anticipated this reaction, the Aztek GT greatly eased this self-imposed exile by equipping owners and their wounded egos with a tent that attached to the rear of the Aztek.
Fiat 500L: Coffee inside your car
We know you like Cars and Caffeine—what about some coffee produced inside your car? Beginning in 2012, you could spec out your Fiat 500L with an espresso machine and sip away. Unfortunately, you’d sacrifice quality for speed, since the Fiat’s in-car caffeine services are more like a Keurig crammed inside a travel mug than a gleaming, steaming Starbucks espresso setup.
First-gen Honda CR-V: Shower
If you’re the lucky owner of a first-generation Honda CR-V, you might possess the perfect beach vacation car. Curb the accumulation of sand and grit with the CR-V’s shower attachment and make the drive home much more comfortable.
1984 Toyota Van: Footwell icemaker
Hypercar firm Lykan offers diamonds in the headlights of its $3.4M offering—but what about those of us whose tastes in ice are more… mundane? We shall scour the markets for 1984 Toyota Vans, in which the front seat passenger could play footsie with a compact ice maker cooled by the air conditioning lines. We might not get as much attention as Lykan’s car, but we’d also save about $3.395M.
Ford Thunderbird: Swing-out steering column
Both the Ford Galaxie and Thunderbird featured swinging steering columns in the ’60’s, aiming to decrease awkwardness and increase elegance while getting in and out of the car. A variation on this theme was the 300 SL Gullwing’s horizontal-tilting steering wheel, which probably saved more knees than the more mobile Ford design and offered another detail to the already deliciously dramatic entry process.
Tucker: “Cyclops” headlight
The 1948 Tucker was ahead of the technology curve—literally. Its “cyclops-eye” third headlight tracked with the front wheels in turns greater than 10 degrees, combining Tucker’s scrupulous eye for detail with his ingenuity and desire for greater driving safety.
Citroën DS: Hydropneumatic suspension
First unveiled in 1955, the Citroën DS sported hydropneumatic suspension that made jacking the car remarkable simple. Simply raise the suspension to the highest setting and sneak a jack stand underneath the car to change a tire. No cranking required.