Innovation and innovations in the car industry led to its revolution and evolution. The 1980s was a particularly peculiar era for these developments. Carmakers raced to produce the best and most innovative cars and car features to grab the market. They developed the foundations for some of the most useful features we see in cars today. Although some of these innovations from the 80s are iconic, they quickly disappeared into obsolescence.
The automotive scene is fast-paced, and nothing sticks forever. The industry constantly sees innovations and ideas, meaning the bad ones are phased out without hesitation. The following ten features seemed like brilliant ideas in the 80s, but they should remain in the 80s.
10 Automatic Seatbelts
Manufacturers today ensure to include various automated safety features such as cruise control, lane departure assist, and automatic braking to step in and control the vehicle on behalf of drivers. Automakers attempted to automate many functions to make the driver’s work easier. However, some attempts, including the automated seatbelts, resulted in epic failures.
The concept had a good intention: to solve the problem of people avoiding wearing their seatbelts. The automation required some complex mechanisms, but the process was not fully automated, as the passenger still had to secure the lap belt by themselves. Furthermore, it posed a threat with its awkward positioning as it would cause a head or neck injury in case of an accident.
9 Headlight Wipers
Most people might be new to headlight wipers, but the idea has been around since the 1980s. These wipers work as their name suggests keeping the debris off the headlight. They should keep it squeaky clean to get the maximum light on the road. Typical cleaning systems had a pressurized jest of screen-wash and tiny wipers.
While on paper, that sounds useful, they never worked effectively or efficiently in practice. Most drivers found them useless, so car companies shifted away from cutting costs and came up with better lighting systems.
When T-Tops came about, they were intended to be a low-cost method to turn a car into a convertible while avoiding the complexity and challenges of normal soft tops. However, entering the 90s, manufacturers ended up abandoning this design. T-Tops had many drawbacks related to faulty weather seals.
The weather seals would fail with age, resulting in leakages into the cabin. At the same time, they would result in rattling noises over bumpy roads. Beyond that, the two independent roof panels took away all the storage in the car, or you had to leave them home, which would be a problem in case of sudden weather changes.
7 Landau Tops
In the 1980s, a Landau top was popular in American luxury cars. It consisted of a padded rear section of the roof that would retract, effectively making the rear seat convertible, while the front was under a hard roof. Interestingly, this kind of roof was not a new invention in the 80s, but it was during that period when it rapidly got popular.
Altogether, the trend would come to an end going into the 1990s. This roof design would hold moisture that would cause rusting issues over time. Moreover, it didn’t fit with the new aero styling of the 90s.
6 CB Radio
CB (Citizen’s Band) Radio was a common truck feature for short-range, two-way communication. Although it was an invaluable invention for many truckers, it inevitably lost its appeal thanks to the development of mobile phones.
When CB radio hit popularity, the channels experienced noise, and communication was no longer clear. Interruptions in communications became commonplace, and drivers abandoned their use eventually.
5 Velor Seats
Velor seats were common for their comfortable and soft texture. Today, some car owners will buy velour covers to upgrade their worn-out seats and get them comfier, but in the 80s, some manufacturers issued them as factory options. Unlike leather, velour seats were always the right temperature and had a better grip on their passenger.
Although all these qualities make velour seats sound like a good option, the material ages horribly. They are subject to extreme wearing once exposed to constant sunlight and heat. As a result, manufacturers abandoned this material in favor of more durable materials.
4 Car Phones
Most young people acccustomed to mobile phones may laugh at the idea of having a huge section of the dash dedicated to housing a traditional dial phone. But things were different in the 70s and 80s; the telephone had its most portable form yet and could be mounted in a car. Car phones were an exciting addition then; Only a serious classics collector would hunt such an item today.
Just like CB radios, car phones quickly met their extinction due to advancements in cell phones. We owe modern technologies to this ancient tech, but they are heavily outdated in today’s world.
3 Clutchless Manual
Manual transmission vehicles were the most popular choice for car buyers in the 1980s. At the time, there weren’t as many automatic transmission cars as manual ones. However, many newbie drivers might run into problems with manual systems that require careful clutch balancing.
As a solution, carmakers attempted to create a clutchless manual transmission system. Unfortunately, this system calls for expensive repairs and significant time spent on it, factors that fixed its success. Manual transmission fans are happy sticking with the good old clutch, but some car manufacturers are trying to resurrect the clutchless manual. Hopefully, they will find a way to eliminate its initial drawbacks.
2 Bench Seats
Classic cars from the 80s symbolize simpler times compared to modern complex tech. In most muscle cars from this era, the front seat used to be a bench seat that would sit three. However, with time and stricter regulations, front bench seats disappeared in most vehicles.
Bucket seats per passenger are now the predominant option. As the demand for sports cars increased, so did the need for weight savings, which largely contributed to the disappearance of the bench seats. At the same time, the bench seat made it a bit more problematic fitting safety belts for all three passengers. Moreover, using bucket seats leaves space for the center console.
1 Musical Car Horns
Today, some car owners who wish to change the sound of the horn may do so with an easy tweaking of the circuit. But in the 80s, one popular trend was the use of musical car horns. Buyers would choose from many available tunes.
Sooner or later, buyers of this idea would realize how ridiculous it was. Gratefully, the crack for musical car horns quickly disappeared. Today they are only present in parade cars.