Since its earliest days, the automotive industry has dealt with an ever-increasing rate of change—from production methods to safety regulations. Those evolving circumstances have shaped and molded the cars themselves, and all too often our favorite automotive features and parts are left in the past.
For last week’s Question of the Week on the Hagerty Forums we wanted to delve into that a bit and find out the option from days gone by that our readers would bring back, given the chance. Amid a flood of responses, there was a sizable consensus on more than a few features, ranging from the more general to the highly specific. Here are the top six.
Form over function
The desire for more chrome, fins, and accent paint schemes was noted by a significant number of the 153 respondents to last week’s poll. Most of the suggestions lamented the modern vehicles which are designed with efficiency and functionality in mind rather than the flash and pizazz of decades gone by. Bring back the fins.
Checklist order sheet
The modern method of ordering a new vehicle is through pre-arranged packages with set groups of options; if you want heated seats, for instance, you’re often forced to get a heated steering wheel and mirrors as well. Many enthusiasts would prefer the industry return to a checklist order sheet that would truly maximize customization.
Modern cars are very aerodynamically efficient, which means things like vent windows had to go. These little windows were the most-suggested item in the comments thread; and some commenters even said that, given vent windows, they would eschew air conditioning. Seems a tall order to us, but the light airflow provided by those triangle wing windows is a pleasure on a fall day with the heater running.
Headlight dimmer switch mounting
Early cars had control locations that varied greatly from one car to another; then, it seemed manufacturers suddenly reached an unspoken agreement to standardize a few things. One of those abruptly normalized features was the dimmer switch for the high-beam headlights: a foot-activated switch to the left of the brake or clutch pedal that allowed the driver to dip their high-beams when using both hands to turn the steering wheel. The handy switch had an Achilles heel, however; corrosion from salt and road grime that stuck to the bottoms of shoes became trapped in the switch and caused it to fail.
Modern engines are packed with all kinds of technology but, with the proper understanding, can still be serviced at home. However, with continual updates to crash safety and emissions regulations, engine compartments have become more than a little crammed, requiring heroic levels of flexibility and dexterity to perform even menial tasks like swapping spark plugs. Requests for more open engine compartments should not be ignored.
Kick panel vents
We did a lot of thinking as to why kick panel vents left production cars, and the only reason we could think of was leaks and noise. The fresh air flow provided by the kick panel vents is a welcome reprieve on a long drive, especially if you want to keep the windows closed for one reason or another. Combine with open windows for delightful airflow to keep fresh air in the cabin.
Is there one feature you thought would get more votes, or one you see on this list that didn’t deserve its place? Sound off in the comments below. While you are typing up a comment, be sure to chime in on this week’s Question of the Week regarding your road trip tips.