Car features have changed a lot in the last 20 years, with hi-tech solutions making driving easier, more enjoyable and much, much safer. The use of cameras and radar sensors means that cars can park themselves and help motorists to see what is in their blind spot, while Bluetooth connectivity allows drivers to listen to their music playlists and take calls without taking their hands off the wheel. Motoring has come a long way since the days when cassette players, manual window handles, and safety belts were considered the height of automotive innovation.
Sometimes, these obsolete features were only installed in a handful of models. Classic car collectors will be more familiar with these weird and wonderful additions and are probably the only people who would really appreciate them too!
15. Minibar - 1957 Cadillac Eldorado Brougham
The 1957 Cadillac Eldorado Brougham is one of the most unique Cadillac vehicles ever made. Fewer than 1000 of the hand-built vehicles were ever made, and they cost more than a Rolls Royce when they went on sale in the late-50s. It was packed with unusual features, including its very own mini bar in the glove box.
14. Rim Blow Horn - 1969 Ford Mustang
One of the first cars to feature the rim blow horn was the 1969 Ford Mustang. Several car manufacturers were exploring ways to make it easier for drivers to use the horn without taking their hands off the steering wheel. Rim blow steering wheels had the horn around the edge rather than in the middle, with drivers simply needing to squeeze the wheel to sound the horn.
13. Record Player - 1956 Chrysler Highway Hifi
21st century infotainment systems allow drivers to access music streaming systems from the comfort of their car, but in the 1950s they had to rely on radios for in-car entertainment. Unless, that is, you happened to own a 1956 Chrysler Highway Hi-Fi which came with its built-in record turntable.
12. Spare Tire-Powered Windscreen Washer - Type 1 VW Beetle
Systems that apply water or cleaning fluid to the windscreens of cars for cleaning purposes are usually powered by an electric pump, but the Type 1 VW Beetle came up with a much more intricate solution to this problem. Its windscreen washer was powered by the air in the vehicle’s spare tire.
11. Pickup Bed Seats - Subaru Brat
The Subaru Brat was a popular sporty pickup in the late 70s and 1980s and was noted for one very unusual feature – backwards-facing seats fitted into the pickup bed. These seats were actually installed by Subaru in a bid to avoid a US import tax on trucks, as the extra seating allowed them to classify the Brat as a passenger vehicle.
10. Rotating Seats - 1961 Buick Flamingo
Back in the 1960s, car manufacturers were keen to exploit a growing market: female drivers. Vehicles were adapted to provide what male designers thought that women would want from a car, such as the rotating seats in the 1961 Buick Flamingo, which allowed female drivers and passengers to exit the car more elegantly and even provided a space for outdoor entertaining.
9. Shower - Honda CR-V
Launched in 1995 the Honda CR-V is a smart crossover SUV which makes for a great off-roading vehicle. In a bid to target this market, Honda decided that they needed to include some creative features which would appeal to drivers who love the great outdoors, including a portable shower attachment.
8. Powder Puff - 1957 Cadillac Eldorado Brougham
The mini bar wasn’t the only unusual extra feature to be offered with the stylish and exclusive 1957 Cadillac Eldorado Brougham. As well as 21st century features like heated seats and clear visors that darkened in direct sunlight, there was also a vanity case in the passenger side glove box, with a mirror, comb and powder puff.
7. Swing-Away Steering Wheel - 1961 Ford Thunderbird
Several car manufacturers tried to come up with new ways to help female drivers and passengers to gracefully exit their vehicles. Buick tried rotating seats, while Ford added a swing-away steering wheel to their 1961 Ford Thunderbird, which allowed drivers to move the wheel to one side while they got in or out of the car.
6. Cyclops Headlight - 1948 Tucker
Even though the automotive industry is constantly developing new technologies to improve their performance, two headlights on vehicles has been the norm for decades and is likely to remain so into the future. However, the 1948 Tucker was one car which broke this standard rule, adding a third headlight on the front of the vehicle.
5. Tent - Pontiac Aztek
The Pontiac Aztek is infamous in automotive circles as one of the ugliest cars ever made. At least Aztek owners wouldn’t care if their crossover SUV got battered and bruised when they took it off-road, and Pontiac even offered an optional tent attachment for those drivers who wanted to head well off the beaten track.
4. Wrist-Twist Steering System - 1956 Ford Mercury Park Lane
It seems bizarre that any car manufacturer would try and redesign such an integral feature as the steering wheel, and yet that is exactly what Ford tried to do in 1856 when they installed the Wrist-Twist steering system in their Mercury Park Lane model. This system featured two smaller parallel wheels that had to be moved at the same time to steer the vehicle.
3. Scooter - Honda City
As the name suggests, the Honda City is a compact vehicle which has been made by the Japanese company since 1981. The first generation City, made between 1981 and 1986, came with an unusual optional package; a tiny 50cc Motocompo scooter which could be stored in the trunk and removed as required.
2. Ice Maker - 1984 Van
The Toyota van was a cheap alternative to the classic VW Bus, providing mobile accommodation for travelers who wanted to see the world from behind the wheel. The 1984 model even came with an ice maker and cool box in the footwell of the vehicle, to help keep food and drink cold while on the road.
1. Rear Seat Toilet - 1954 Rolls-Royce Vignale
Rolls Royce cars are generally known for their opulent luxury, from leather seats to carpets made of real wool. One unique custom model built in 1954, a Rolls Royce Vignale, included a very unusual and unexpected feature, however, in the shape of a fully functioning toilet under the cushions of one of the rear seats.
Sources: Auto Trader, The News Wheel, Macs Motorcity Garage, Auto Express