Journal: Which Classic Car Quirk Do You Wish Wasn’t Extinct?

Which Classic Car Quirk Do You Wish Wasn’t Extinct?

By Michael Banovsky
November 29, 2015
39 comments

When I was enjoying the Maple Mille, one of the things that made the Plymouth Scamp so pleasant on a long drive was its vent windows: curious little triangles of glass inside a hinged metal frame that can be turned to allow more air into the car. Of course, we know what vent windows are all about and why they’re awesome, but a number of things over the years conspired to see them cast away in favour of really great A/C and power windows.

Sometimes, the casualties of progress leave good things behind. The very basic, attainable Porsche 914 has three of my favorite lost features: a dog-leg manual transmission, pop-up headlights, and a parking brake to the driver’s left. My 2CV’s seats, entertainingly, could be used as picnic chairs, and on sunny days its roof could be wrapped open and closed like an ancient scroll. Rollover standards be damned, of course, but it was very nice indeed.

Romance aside, I’m also not sure that many people would enjoy the return of choke start. “Progress” means different things to different people, but what’s one old feature you wish had stuck around?

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Robert WylandSteveLittlefieldBob LoblawBenjamin WallaceToby Tuttle Recent comment authors
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Robert Wyland
Robert Wyland

I really miss the triangular vent windows by the A pillar. Nice way to get fresh air with out getting wind blasted.

SteveLittlefield
SteveLittlefield

I wish that cars were still designed by people who worked on them. There was time when you could tell that a car was designed to be repaired and serviced. The people who designed them cared about ease of maintenance. There was a beautiful logic to be found when you tore them apart and put them back together. My 1983 320is had it and my 2003 Miata has it. Many cars as recent as the 1980’s and early ’90’s had modern features, but were still designed for easy service and repair. German cars and motorcycles built after 1990 are generally… Read more »

Bob Loblaw
Bob Loblaw

Analog gauges, manual transmission, and unique style. I miss being able to tell cars apart without having to get closer than 20 feet.

Benjamin Wallace
Benjamin Wallace

I miss the “quirk” of having a full sized spare tire as well as full tool kits that came with the car.

Toby Tuttle
Toby Tuttle

You can’t roll a 2cv unless you go as fast as you can backwards and pull a Jim Rockford turn. You should know this before you make rollover jokes about your own car. Just sayin’

Gregg Barney
Gregg Barney

My Karman Ghias windshield washers were powered by the air in the spare tire.

John Batten
John Batten

For me, i enjoy the absence of sound deadening you get from a classic. The raw sound of the engine and mechanicals through the cabin that just cant be met in modern metal with their swathes of carpet and plastic.

Aside from this i really appreciate the opening quarter lights in my Hillman Imp. Great for ventilation!.

Charles O'Droske II
Charles O'Droske II

Front bench seats in passenger cars! I love being able to have six people in my Dart.

Tom Richards
Tom Richards

I think theres a lot to be said for choke starts. I really enjoy the methodical process of starting mine.

Also wooden dashboards, the smell of an old car and that low burble idling sound that only old cars make

Scott Schmidt
Scott Schmidt

Long wheelbase two doors with a bench front seat and column shift. Really any car without bucket seats and giant cock-blocking center console.

M3racer
M3racer

Thin A pillars and glove boxes with real storage. I miss the excellent storage of BMW 2002 or E30 M3 glove boxes.

Leon Prinsloo
Leon Prinsloo

Most definitely pop-up headlights. Made the most simple sporty car ooze with cool. Example. The Honda Prelude 2 door Coupé. Just oozed it with pop-up headlamps and a sliding sunroof. The Ferrari 308, 288, 512BB etc, the 348TB, the Testarossa. All sublimely cool.

Jon Gilliatt
Jon Gilliatt

Thin-rimmed / large diameter steering wheels, and long shift rods with a long throw are the first to come to mind!

Matteo Frigerio Frigerio
Matteo Frigerio Frigerio

definitely Ferrari-like shifter visible rails, as opposed to ugly fake-leather cover. Then bonnet leather belts, and analogical RPH or speed indicator in the middle of the console (Mini alike), along with additional headlights all over

Raphael May
Raphael May

Original designs! None of this ‘modern classic’ business.

Jessy Yeh
Jessy Yeh

Although they may not be the functional features that the article is referring to, skinny steel bumper (either chrome or painted), fender mounted mirrors, and glass headlights are definitely what I wish still stick around.

AMG9
AMG9

Although I acknowledge the appeal for airbags in modern steering wheels, I would really love to see thin, wooden steering wheels make a comeback. Why? The Jaguar E Type steering wheel. No other words are needed.

Tom DesRochers
Tom DesRochers

Full Size Spare Tire.

No donut.

No air pump.

Victor Smith
Victor Smith

Second vote for the full size spare

adham_metwalli
adham_metwalli

Two tone exterior paint, painted dashboards, no engine cover, beautiful wheels and the absence of sound deadening.

daepp
daepp

Back when the price of an early 911 was the same as a good SC, I opted for an early car just because of the wind-wings (or vent windows). Today I’m glad for several reasons that I did!

Josh Lederer
Josh Lederer

I’d like to see tonal color palettes used for exterior paint and interior upholstery (Silver blue car with navy blue interior, etc.). And seats with contrast piping. Also, painted dashboards.

Jacob New
Jacob New

I think for its the Mechanical side of it that you know if you break down somewhere you can fix it with just the tools it came with…most of the time. And also the driving experience its nothing like it yes a new Ferrari would be nice but a 60’S Porsche or even a MG you cant beat it. its just simply amazing.

James Foreman
James Foreman

Some of the classic car touches I miss, in no particular order:

Pop-up headlights

Webber carbs

The open-gate manual Ferrari gearstick/box

Campagnolo wheels

Christian Leyk
Christian Leyk

Actually, the choke isn’t such a bad thing… some joyriding kids tried to steal a friend’s car and they even managed to hot-wire the ignition, but they failed to use the choke, so they abandoned their plan!
But generally I agree with almost everything written here… bring back the simplicity, the unfiltered joy of driving. Noise that comes from the engine breathing in rather than manipulated exhausts. Electrics instead of electronics. Oh, and knobs and buttons are just much safer in a car, because one can use them without taking the eyes off the street!

Amir Kakhsaz
Amir Kakhsaz

We’re not far off an interior with no knobs or buttons. I love pulling the fat, chunky headlight switch in my old 911 or dialing in just the right amount of windshield wiper sweep delay with the knob in the gauge cluster, the window switches in my ’04 MINI were fun to operate too… If we come back around to this question in 10 years, I’m sure it’ll be up there.

JB21
JB21

Sense of adventure and romance in a machine. That is completely gone gone gone. That’s what I miss in old machinery.

Juan M Handal
Juan M Handal

fly off hand brakes, last seen on my 1972 Morgan Plus 8; you pull the lever and push the button to lock the brake, otherwise you can use it as a hand brake acting on the rear wheels, great for handbrake turns

Dan Glover
Dan Glover

I agree with all the below and would add proper analogue gauges (including clock), wind-down windows, old style racing belts. However, it also needs to be said that all these wished-for features are still available on old cars. I doubt we are going to see many of these features being brought back in new cars by today’s manufacturers, but if you are willing to purchase and care for an older car, you can have them right now, every day and for way less than a new car. I bought a ’74 MGB (chrome bumper) over a year ago and have… Read more »

Bryce Womeldurf
Bryce Womeldurf

The smell of uncatalyzed exhaust. The smell of those old interiors. Pop up headlights. Louvers. Low body weight.

Mos6502
Mos6502

Big steering wheels. It used to be every car had a nice big steering wheel. Even my tiny Subaru 360 had one, even though it covered nearly half the dash.

Also a column shifter here and there would be nice.

Matt Abrams
Matt Abrams

Bring back Semaphores/Trafficators

Paul Ipolito
Paul Ipolito

I miss the $3500 price tags.

Christopher Gay
Christopher Gay

Yes. This.

Noah Spitzer
Noah Spitzer

So many to choose from…
1) Manual steering, with the exception of the new 4C, this is all but extinct. Not even the best hydraulic rack can transmit the feel as even decent manual racks.
2) Chrome/bare metal gas filler caps. They make such a satisfying click when being opened or closed.
3) Unsynchronized transmissions. Although I would not want to daily drive one, a car without synchromesh is satisfying in a way as you have to put more effort into each gear change, and when done correctly it feels amazing.

Andreas Monsieur
Andreas Monsieur

I mostly miss the lack of driving aids. All modern cars have abs, power steering, traction control, … In classic cars you have the feel of pure driving, which is completly lost in modern cars. You have that direct connection between man and machine, not computers stand between that.
I also miss the pure sound of the engine. The sound of most modern cars is so manipulated by computers. You hear what a man with a coputer told it to make, not the actual engine.

geelongvic
geelongvic

The forward hinged, flip-open rear windows of the earlier 911 Porsches, which continued into the G series, was a great, now missed feature for increased, straight through car cabin air flow/ventilation.

BrunoC
BrunoC

Toggle switches

Slim steering wheels with no airbags and spokes with visible metal

D. J.B
D. J.B

My daily driver has the vent windows. I wish it had a manual choke and an old style auxillary throttle lever. I wish they would bring back pop up cowel vents and lever out windshield’s and external adjustable sun shields. Please, please, ditch all in one wiring harnesses, automotive computers, driver aid systems and the everything but the kitchen sink option pkg’ed vehicles.