Journal: What Technology Are You Glad Your Car Doesn’t Have?

What Technology Are You Glad Your Car Doesn’t Have?

By Michael Banovsky
July 17, 2015

A few years ago, my working life consisted of gallivanting around Toronto, Canada, behind the wheel of a different new car each week. Writing about new vehicles is perhaps a story for another day, but it quickly informed my opinion of what I’d like my vehicles to both have…and not have.

It also sort of explains why I sold one of the few features fitted to a car I used to own, a 1985 Citroën 2CV Charleston.

I look at things on a case-by-case basis. My Fiat 500 Abarth, for instance: heated seats are great in the winter, the stereo is OK, but I just don’t want the roof of my car to open. I could live without the leather (there were no cloth seat-equipped models in Canada when I was shopping), and the optional navigation system was a box I was happy to leave unchecked.

That said, it’s still a subcompact car that will pair with my phone and automatically adjust the air conditioning…in addition to a few features I don’t really need.

The 2CV, in comparison, was low tech to the point of being a place of happy isolation from technology; a small, cheerful, simple place where I could immerse myself in the sounds and smells of yesteryear—while watching drivers around me play 3D poker on their smartphones.

What technology are you glad that your car doesn’t have? Do you draw the line at a complicated touchscreen-based user interface, or does your ideal car have little more than a steering wheel and pedals? 

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1 year ago

I’m glad that my car cannot get infected with ransomware. Even if it, I would just get the best ransomware protection at Either way I’m blessed and happy with my car!

Chase Freeman
Chase Freeman(@chase_freeman)
3 years ago


2007 LR3

Justa Kierownica
Justa Kierownica
3 years ago

Ok. After giving the matter some thought, I find two or three things that are not bad as a general idea but can be annoying if can’t be turned off.
First one is the start-stop system. I’m all for it in my naturaly aspirated Miata ND but I’m very afraid of this system in any turbocharged engine. You advise in the user’s manual that one should cool the turbine after a drive for a while and then design a system that shuts the engine off abruptly? Strange idea.
Another annoying one is the electric ‘handbrake’. It’s notma very drift-friendly device. But let’s be honest – most drivers don’t use handbrake to initiate slide on purpose so it’s in general a good idea. You don’t forget to apply parking brake when exiting the vehicle so for most people it’s a very convenient thingy.
And the third one is a traction control system that you cannot turn off. TC as such is a very good thing. It’s just that sometimes you’d like to turn it off and have some fun in controlled environment. But yoh can’t because even if you ‘turn it off’ it still works. Just to a lesser extend. (Had it in my MB GLC)

Elin S Alexandrov
Elin S Alexandrov
3 years ago

I own three cars at the moment. E46 Touring, E21 and an E30. My first and only car for 5 years was the E46, which I never felt lacking something or having something redundant. Last year I got the E21. Non-power assisted steering – best thing ever (unless you try to poke your phone while manoeuvring around a tight car park), manual windows – after applying some silicone lubricant they roll up and down with ease – will last forever, No ABS – teaches you to become a better driver and respect the car, No – ESP or TC – pff, I never used those on the E46 as well, so nothing to share here. In general, the E30 is the best middle ground. Still light and nimble like the E21, but more refined and quieter if you need to daily drive it

Peter J Smith
Peter J Smith(@fb_1043682525)
3 years ago

ESC, traction control, ABS, or, any other hand holding, nanny state, rubbish! If you can’t drive a car without electronics helping you, you should not be issued a license. I prefer manual steering, as well.

3 years ago

First and foremost , a turbo , also an electronic e brake and all assosiated stuf , like hold assist, If you wanna be a driver you have to learn how to properly execute a hill start from start from a standstill on a hill .Also , digital cluster , Automatic transmission and a traction control that can’t be turned off

Mihai Hornea
Mihai Hornea
4 years ago

AutoPilot… There is nothing wrong with cruise control or lane assist, as long as they are on an independent system. I know this site is about classic cars, but i feel like i had to say this

Nathan Zammit Muma
Nathan Zammit Muma(@nathan_zammit_muma)
4 years ago

Power steering..
I currently daily drive a 106 Xsi. It has power windows and mirrors, central locking and an efi system. Thats more than enough stuff.. Before I drove a fiat panda which had power nothing ( not even brakes). That was a reliable car!

Николай Манолов
Николай Манолов(@nickems)
4 years ago

oh boy, as an owner of an 11yo BMW, the list of things I don’t want in it is so long, I can’t possibly list half of it. Automatic screen wipers that never work as you want them to, battery sensors, that require visiting the service for a simple battery replacement, incredibly complicated self-adjusting, cornering automatic, whatever headlights that cost ridiculous amount of money to replace, taillights with 7 stupid light bulbs each and 3 different modes of operation, 123455 airbags and sensors, one of which break immediately after you repair the previous one, super-complicates seatbelts with multiple pyro-whatever it’s called tensioner, incredibly complicated digital climate control no sane human being would want.

Who needs all this stuff? Even if some of these things are nice safety or comfort features to have, it’s hell when one of them breaks and you need to replace it…

Filandro Leone
Filandro Leone(@filandro)
4 years ago

I love my 4C just for what it doesn’t have: No power steering, no touch screens, and no ‘technology’ package. Oh, and no digital climate control — just basic A/C w/ fan speeds and big simple, analogue dials. I am also glad it requires the rewarding motion of inserting and turning a key to fire it up.

Andreas Monsieur
Andreas Monsieur(@andreas-monsieur)
4 years ago

Basicly everything you find in a modern car is unnessesary. All these technolgy like adaptive cuise control, heated seats/ steering wheel/ windows, keyless entry, lane assist, brake assist,… are just so unnessesary and makes me nervous. It takes away the pure driving experience that you do have in a classic car. Three switches, a steering wheel and a gear stick is all you need to enjoy driving a classic car.

4 years ago

What I don’t miss:
Electrically adjusting seats
Lane control/distance control/traction control
Automatic gearbox
Fancy on board computer
Digital gauges

What I miss:
cruise control
manual windows (I have electric windows)

The main reason why I dislike all these technologies is: what you don’t have, can’t break, but also they take the focus away from actual driving. I’d only use cruise control for long highway runs, but that’s about it.

Paul Glyde
Paul Glyde(@fb_1152010574828825)
4 years ago

What am I prepared to do without? I drive a ’69 Morgan – enough said!

Jeff Klees
Jeff Klees(@jefdidit)
4 years ago

My current rides are a ’73 Spitfire, ’92 Mercedes 300e, and an ’06 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited, All of these vehicles require manual control! All of the newer cars seem to have features that disconnect one from actually driving! I like driving the car!

Hugo Zavala Solorzan
Hugo Zavala Solorzan
4 years ago

Push button startup, “keys” that don’t fit anywhere in the car, BMW style automatic shift lever that stay in the same position regardless what gear is selected and needleless dashboards just to name a few.

Gary Groce
Gary Groce(@groceg)
4 years ago

I frequently work on my collection of cars outside my home. ’73 BMW 2002tii, ’83 320i s pack, ’69 Datsun 510 and ’72 240Z, ’75 Triumph TR6. I had a lady comment the other day as she walked by…”My, you certainly have fancy cars don’t you” I replied,…”yes, in fact they’re so fancy that none of them have AC, power locks, heated seats, infotainment centers or computers of any sort, and you have to shift the gears yourself and roll the windows with a crank…now…. how “fancy” is your car ?”

Noel Ward
Noel Ward
5 years ago

My DD in a 1996 Saab 9000 Aero. Mildly tweaked with ECU and suspension upgrades. The only modern thing it has is ABS. And that’s fine. One computer (the ECU) unless you include the central locking system.

I don’t like any of the modern cars with all the nannies. Sure, I like the Porsches and Jags I test drove at the Amelia Concours, but the cars from the mid- o -late ’80s and through mid-’90s are the best cars in my estimation. Older ones are more fun in many ways, but the vintage I like are more reliable as a DD, which is a big requirement for me.

My wife’s DD is a ’03 Saab 9-5 wagon. Still just one or two computers. Easy to work on, does the job just fine. No need for newer cars.

5 years ago

I drive a 2001 FIAT Seicento S
No electric windows
No electric mirrors
No steering assistance
It has just the basics and I love it. I never needed any of the modern day technologies.
Ok sometimes I wish it had central locking…. 🙂

Eta power
Eta power
5 years ago

1980 320i

Power options:
– Brakes

Just the way I like it! I day to day use, I like power brakes, a power passenger window, and power locks (with no remote). I think there is a reason my cars keep getting older, hah!

Pablo Rodríguez
Pablo Rodríguez(@ilsorpasso)
5 years ago

I use to drive old cars, so I don’t need almost nothing electronic or music ( old cars need all my atention). In fact, I had an A&R 33 permanent integrale a pair of years ago and It was SO weak : It has abs, traction control and permanent 4×4, and It melted like snow in my hands. I’m afraid that nop, I don’ t need electronics cars.

Takudzwa Munyaradzi Maramba
Takudzwa Munyaradzi Maramba(@fb_100000711982086)
5 years ago

Two technologies I am rejoicing not to have in my car…Electric power steering and a Continuously Variable Transmission. I despise with every fiber of my being those two things. The fact that they are becoming more and more commonplace in modern cars does nothing more than cement my conviction that any car I will ever own has already been built.

Chris Greta
Chris Greta(@chrisg)
5 years ago

I’ve been driving a 1971 Citroen DS for the last four years, very similar to the one in the photograph (it’s white too).

A fantastic car. The suspension is like nothing else on the road. But overall, the car is VERY simple and easy to maintain. Hand crank windows, minimal electronics with good wiring and no plastic plugs, just simple one-to-one male/female copper fittings. The suspension is crazy complicated, but so well made that if you keep driving it, it’ll seemingly last forever. My whole hydraulic suspension is going on 45 years old and for the most part, it’s all original and functions perfectly. The engine is a simple, robust 4 cyl cast iron block. The transmission is a 5 speed on the tree. The brakes are huge, robust disks and the pads a half inch thick. Roller bearings are as big around as your thumb.

Everything was built well and well engineered.

Every body panel can be unbolted quickly and replaced, or you can drive it with no body at all… Everything just bolts to an internal frame.

I replaced the whole interior in a weekend with minimal tools.

I think most people are afraid of the Citroen DS, thinking it’s a nightmare. And i can be. If it’s rusted badly or it’s been sitting for years, it’s probably a lost cause. But keep it dry and drive it and you’ll always have a smile on your face.

Andrew Walzer
Andrew Walzer(@andrewwalzer)
5 years ago

My daily driver, an American pony car, has a few tectologeies such as ABS, aircon, power steering, power brakes, traction control, stereo, airbags and I use them all, but aircon and window defrost are the only ones I would be lost without. That being said, I would not buy a modern car without ABS your airbags.

Slobodan Markovic
Slobodan Markovic(@slobodanmmarkovic)
5 years ago

The overwhelming industrial trend in automotive industry nowdays is that cars are turned into entertaining centers. Its all about “fun”, vehicle performances are at the back seat. Even safety is not any more under the spotlight. Take VW latest models, its all about sound. No-one talks about drivability, or drivers’ car any more. Cars are nowdays caracterless, perishable mass product, ment to be consumed in few years and recycled.

5 years ago

I drive s 98 wrangler. It doesn’t have much, but one thing I LOVE that it doesn’t have is coil packs. They don’t increase fuel efficiency or power (at least in the jeeps), and they’re spendy when they fail. I do like airbags and abs though, And cruise control is nice for long highway miles

Miguel Ángel Simón Fernández
Miguel Ángel Simón Fernández(@msimonfe)
5 years ago

I have been driving a 2cv because of the economic crisis I have for two years.. I don’t need anything else since any other modern car easily gets you a speeding ticket. It can consme a bit more petrol/gas but service intervals are so much cheaper and fast that it really pays me off. What we aren’t aware of is that the communication buses are so cryptic that it is impossible for anyone who is not an official dealer to service a modern car. Perhaps Ford who claims it has an open CAN communication bus is out of this discussion, but it is quite worrying. Freedom is priceless.

Eba Normaalne
Eba Normaalne(@madis503)
5 years ago

my project car has a lot of extras, way more than my daily, so i removed the abs and AC, glad it doesn’t have some traction controls and sttuff, i hate those.

Nigel Eastmond
Nigel Eastmond(@doctornige)
5 years ago

We run a 2008 Range Rover Vogue and a 1983 Mercedes-Benz R107 280SL. The R107 is a joy – it has electronic ignition, so it starts, but the radio is an old Becker Europa, and the car has heated nothing, no aircon and the wipers barely work. This is all fun for high days and holidays, but when you need to climb the local hills in ice and snow, it is very, very cool to have everything that the Range Rover can throw at the problem, and still be able to listen to Radio 4 in crystal clarity.

Now bikes, on the other hand … I run a 2006 Honda CBR600RR Movistar MotoGP replica, and it was really the last bike Honda made with no ABS. It has no rider modes, no cruise, no heated grips, no quickshifter, no slipper clutch. I adore the connection I get with the road on that thing.

So, really, you kinda need both in your life – one technological masterpiece for the day-to-day, winter and touring, and on or two stripped out toys to remind you what life is about.

Brett Evans
Brett Evans(@evans-bt)
5 years ago

I drive a base-model Suzuki Sidekick, and while I’d kill for a lot more power underhood, I’m grateful there’s no power in the interior. Manual windows and locks are a given for this thing, especially since it’s so narrow and small that it’s easy to unlock all the doors and unwind all the windows from the driver’s seat. Plus, it makes for some retro-narrow door panels.

Alejandro Diaz
Alejandro Diaz(@el-zato)
6 years ago

I’m a huge tech fan who also happens to be a music fan and car fan. That means an awesome nav/infotaiment system with parking and blind spot cameras and 10 speakers are a big YES with me. Also, leather is nice when you live in a tropical zone and love the beach, as are heated seats and steering wheel when you hate cold. What I DON’T want:

-Automatic transmission: Self-explanatory
-Internet Access: No, I don’t want my passengers checking their smartphones and tablets, I want them screaming and grabbing where they can (not literally)
-Electronic aids: if they’re there, off should be the default position.
-Cruise control, lane departure, adaptative speed systems: Did I mention that I actually love driving?
-AWD: No, I don’t want to go cross-country, the road is just fine, even if it’s unpaved…

Dirk Stoop
Dirk Stoop(@dirkstoop)
6 years ago

An electronic throttle pedal that second-guesses my application of the throttle, just in case I didn’t mean it. Overboosted brakes and a deeply set back throttle pedal next to it that’s designed to make future unintended acceleration lawsuits less likely while also making a well-executed heel toe downshift near impossible. Power steering. Traction control that I have to turn off every time I start the engine. ECU maps designed to squeeze the last bit of efficieny and torque out of the engine at every point, leaving behind a torque curve that resembles the Manhattan skyline. HUDs, TPMS systems that can’t pair with more than one set of sensors (winter time = blink time), poorly designed/all factory touchscreen radio/nav systems.

Oh and a self-winding dash clock that resembles a watch. I don’t miss that either.

Kristjan Bonisegna
Kristjan Bonisegna(@kris5150)
6 years ago

Less is more in my eyes, got nothing but electric windows in my NA mx-5 and couldnt ask for more =)

Scott Lockhart
Scott Lockhart(@mhisstc)
6 years ago

I WISH my 2013 Ford Focus didn’t have SYNC. Voice recognition and activation sounded like a good idea to keep the driver’s attention on the road. Instead it ended up being an exercise in frustration for both my wife and I to try to first learn the system and then use the system and was actually a bigger distraction than a manual system and tended to induce road rage. This technology was clearly no where near developed enough to actually be useful. It is bad enough that it has convinced us to NEVER by another car again with this feature. I think it’s very near to being on par with the motorized automatic seat belts of the ’90s.

Niko PetrHead
Niko PetrHead(@fb_100008979769173)
6 years ago

One more reason NOT to connect the infotainment system and the car itself, keeping the driver as interface between the two :

Mark Andrews
Mark Andrews
6 years ago

My 2010 Audi S4 Avant had ‘Audi Drive Select’ which allowed me to adjust the suspension, throttle response, and steering weight at the push of a button. Problem was it was one extreme or the other (i.e. suspension too hard for British B-road, or too soft for bends on British B-roads!), and I was always paranoid it would fail and leave me with a massive bill. I certainly don’t miss that and won’t spec it on future cars!

6 years ago

“I have a little list, and they’ll none of them be missed …”

Well, quite a big list actually; but the thing that causes me most annoyance these days is the heated seats in my wife’s car, especially when she’s left them on and it really isn’t all that cold.

For a friend of mine though it would have to be the immobiliser in his Audi, which on several occasions has malfunctioned and left him with no option other than to call the tow truck. I think he would probably prefer, all things considered, to have the car stolen!

Michael May
Michael May
6 years ago

I despise electric gas pedals and keyless pushbutton starter/ignition switches. And the layback, flat windshields that put the fat “A” pillar right in line with the corner apex is also obnoxious.

Nathan Leland
Nathan Leland(@fb_1021010292)
6 years ago

In a light enough car, with just enough tire, power steering. The feel that the Burman Box on an Alfa provides is sublime.

Susan Gratien
Susan Gratien(@susanrsa)
6 years ago

My summer daily driver is an 82 CJ7, the hardtop sitting in a friends backyard. No weather protection, the radio is dead, proper 3 pedals, manual windows, gas gauge not working, heater/blower is in-op – there are no modern features. The only ‘power’ feature is lighting and I do drive it at night, so that is essential – everything else is just ………… unnecessary. My favourite definition of a sports car: contains nothing that doesn’t make it go faster. Mr. Jeep isn’t fast, but it’s closer to the basics of a sports car than just about anything on the road, and definitely more smiles per mile in town.

Larry Brantingham
Larry Brantingham(@sns)
6 years ago

It’s probably easier to start from the other end. I’m going to sell my newest car and bring my 74 GTV out of storage. The only dealer modifications I will keep are air conditioning – in Dallas, that’s not a luxury – and the Webers because I’m too lazy to switch back to SPICA.. Ironically, my newest car would be considered bare-bones by modern standards, but I’m still tired of hauling out the scanner and scope to debug problems.

Samir Shirazi
Samir Shirazi(@samirshirazi)
6 years ago

There is no CD player and I can hear what the car says.

Simon Westerlund
Simon Westerlund
6 years ago

Electric parking brake is a big negative, drove me crazy when i got my heavy trailer licence.. Start stop button, hmm, its a bit odd but if ONLY has the function of turning the starter motor and you need to turn a key, i don’t mind it. Then there are som unnecessary stuff that never will get removed such as the traction control or stability control. I drive a basic 1992 MB 190E 1.8 and there are only a few thing i miss, nothing i want to remove. Heated seats is something i want, when its -25C and your going to work, it is comfy. Stuff i don’t need is powered seats (waste of weight, SAWC!), powered sunroof (makes it so weak people can’t open it), alarm (must be a mess, especially from the 90s), electric gaspedal control (its probably in every new car but i remember volvos going full out and blowing engines cause the electronics failed…).

Niko PetrHead
Niko PetrHead(@fb_100008979769173)
6 years ago

Any infotainment or another computerized gadget is doomed to have the lifecycle of an already half-smoked fad. As I don’t want to change my car as often as my undies, no thanks. I still may use the 12V DC outlet to charge my phone (which I’m less reluctant to ditch after the odd fart, and still gives me speed controls positions and so on).

Sean Whelan
Sean Whelan(@marveh)
6 years ago

My first one is not so much a user feature but an add-on that is invisible to the driver; EDR’s Event Data Recorders. I want the option at a fender-bender to say, “Of course I was driving within the speed limit.”
I have to chime in with many here and say the climate/ info-tainment systems. Just adjusting the temperature in many cars involves a dangerous starring contest with a slow witted touch screen.
Seats that adjust automatically when you enter/exit. I rented a 2015 Fusion last week (dynamically a nice car with the 2.0 Ecoboost even though it was missing the third pedal) and every time I shut off the car my seat would pull back into the rear-most position. My backseat passenger didn’t appreciate reenacting the trash compactor scene from Star Wars whenever we stopped. Am I supposed to be so fat that I can’t escape the car any other way?
Floppy paddle automatic transmissions. Look, if you can’t drive a stick shift then let the car do the thinking. I rank this feature right up there with putting a windshield wiper on the inside of the window to wipe the spit away when you are making race car noises with your mouth.

Chris Leighton
Chris Leighton(@fb_100001202966870)
6 years ago
Reply to  Sean Whelan

your EDR comment was so much more eloquent than the lack of GPS I was going to make.

Why you ask, well not having a phone either the ’71 sedan is so much harder to track, by anyone, police or the good wife

A Dias
A Dias(@adias)
6 years ago

Electric e-brakes on sports cars.

Dan Picasso
Dan Picasso(@foiledagain)
6 years ago

I drive a ’61 VW Beetle. It has no fuel gauge which meshes well with my fondness for mystery.

Rose Gardener
Rose Gardener(@toffee)
6 years ago

I basically like all modern technologies to the point that I feel unsafe or unprotected sitting in an old one. there are a few things that I can do without:

1. Power seats, all my cars have it, except a recent acquisition: ’14 FJ cruiser. I found the manual seat adjust to be faster. and save quite a bit of weight.
2. One screen for all infotainment, takes my eyes off the road and takes too much time to learn.
3. High belt lines. Not sure why most cars these days have high belt lines and small green house. OK glasses are heavy, but the high belt lines with the resulting cocoon sitting make driving less interesting.
4. Thick doors, OK may be they are there for good reason, side protection beam and power windows. Just hope that doors are not thick for big speakers.
5. Thick A, B and C posts. view blocking!
6. Ding Ding Ding )(*&^\% all the warning.

Andrew Salt
Andrew Salt(@nacl)
6 years ago

Etc, etc….ad infinitum…

My driving experience is enhanced by not having these things.

Bertram Wooster
Bertram Wooster(@fb_100002929454700)
6 years ago

a) a \%$&#$! electric parking brake;

b) a \%$&#$! start/stop button!

Unfortunately, both the manual Jaguar F-Type and the new Alfa Giulia have both of them!

Ryan Aghdam
Ryan Aghdam(@ryanaghdam)
6 years ago

I’m glad that I don’t have any “start/stop” technology that shuts off the engine when idling; no blind-spot monitoring; and no touchscreen infotainment.

I wish I didn’t have an immobilizer, because it makes the key much larger than necessary.

I do, however, really enjoy having Bluetooth. It’s very handy for navigation when I’m traveling somewhere unfamiliar.