Can you remember a time when you wouldn’t even consider a car that didn’t come with an 8-track player? Today, we accept that a number of features will simply be there when we get in a car. What about the options that we no longer see? AutoShack.com is taking a look at vehicle parts and options that no longer find their way into modern vehicles. From outdated radio options to exteriors and powertrain options, take a stroll down memory lane with AutoShack.com!
Defunct Car Styling
The most common modern vehicle is the SUV or Crossover. The styling cues of these vehicles include a hatchback or wagon design on a slightly lifted frame. It wasn’t that long ago that the large 4 door sedan was the top-selling vehicle. The old-fashioned sedans of yesteryear were known to sport a few defunct car options:
Whitewalls – While few people will still remember a time where whitewall tires were the norm, they still exist as an example of a time gone by. A little known fact about your tires is that they are in fact white. Natural rubber, when formed into a tire, is white in colour. Tires get their black colour from adding carbon black to the rubber. When it was discovered that adding carbon black to a tire greatly improves the longevity and performance of a tire, the process was applied to only the tires tread. This meant that the tread of the tire would be black, while the sidewalls would remain natural rubber white. This is how the first whitewall tires were created. Whitewall tires began being fitted to carriages as early as 1914. Whitewall tires would go on to peak in popularity in the late 50’s, before ultimately being replaced by radial tires and rubber with a full carbon black content.
Tail Fins – This option wouldn’t have made this list, if weren’t for a sneaky ode to them appearing in modern vehicles. The birth of the tail fin is credited to Cadillac in 1948. The design of a tail fin on a car was said to be inspired from tail fins on airplanes, especially planes used during the war. The design reached its peak in the late 50’s, with some automakers, even stating that tail fins would help reduce steering effort in severe crosswinds. Tail fins eventually fell out of fashion after a growing number of complaints arose to their safety. Today, the subtle styling of modern Cadillac tail lights recalls the classic look of vehicle tail fins.
Vinyl Roofs – The original styling of vinyl roofs comes from the attempt at mimicking a horse-drawn carriages leather or canvas covering. Once again, the first vehicle to feature this defunct car option was a Cadillac. The 1956 Eldorado Seville was a consumer vehicle that featured a vinyl roof as a standard option. Over the years, various styles of vinyl roofs were implemented, taking up various sizes and shapes. Vinyl roofs served no function, often being less durable and promoting more rust and repairs than regular roofs. This lead to the eventual decline of mock soft top.
Defunct Car Options
While some styling can come and go, the insides of a car haven’t changed as much as you might think. Modern vehicles still run on a similar set up as 50 years ago, with a few exceptions.
Cigarette Lighters – Smoking has certainly declined over the years, and the need for vehicles equipped to handle smokers has as well. Vehicle ashtrays have vanished, and cigarette lighters have begun to disappear as well. While many vehicles still offer the 12v port, it’s primarily used as a charger for electronic devices or a power supply for FM transmitters. The primary option people look for today is not the cigarette lighter, but the USB port or AUX inputs.
Car 8-Track Player
Stereo Sound – Obviously the largest defunct car option is anything to do with vehicle cabin electronics. When the first Model T rolled off the production line, television had yet to be invented, and radio was a long ways from fitting into a car. To think that in that time we’ve managed to fit computers with more processing power than the moon lander into our cars is incredible. Each generation has the idea of what a defunct stereo looks like, from 8-track to cassettes. Even modern CD drives will soon be disappearing from cars, as auxiliary inputs and Bluetooth take over as the new medium. Many new vehicles released after 2010 have no CD drive, opting instead for satellite radio or an external device.
Carburetors – Gas burns most efficiently when mixed with air, and that’s exactly what the carburetor did. The first carburetors appeared in the late 1880’s, and were the common on vehicles for over 100 years. Carburetors worked by passing air over a sitting pool of gasoline, creating an air and fuel mixture that would be burnt in the combustion cycle. Carburetors in application were far from perfect. If too much fuel was able to get through the carburetor, the engine would flood, rendering it temporarily inoperable. Carburetors were also less fuel efficient than the systems that would replace them. Furthermore, extreme temperatures such as a cold winter morning or a hot summer day would create problems with the carburetor, as it would change the properties of the liquid gasoline and air entering and exiting the carburetor. During the 80s and 90s, the carburetor was replaced by the far superior fuel injection system. Both systems run off the same type of fuel pump system that has been in place for years.
Gasoline Engines – While nowhere near completely defunct, there may come a time in the future when we look back on gasoline engines the same way we look at a 50s Cadillac with tail fins, vinyl roof, whitewall tires, AM radio, and a carburetor under the hood. With the introduction of emissions standards, each major automaker now must create a zero emissions vehicle or else face severe penalties. The current trifecta of hypercars (The Porsche 918, Ferrari LaFerrari, and the McLaren P1) all feature hybrid drivetrains. Electric vehicles have even been given their own Formula racing division, known as Formula E. Formula E vehicles feature the same electric engines found in the world leading McLaren P1, and have a 0-60 time of ~3 seconds.
Car Options Of Tomorrow
We often look to the future when thinking of cars. As technology rapidly evolves to give us more gadgets, options, and power it can be easy to forget about the styling and features of days gone by. While we’re excited for airless tires and electric motors, we’ll always remember the classics.
If you’re shopping for defunct car options or modern performance, you can count on AutoShack.com for quality at low prices!
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