Six Retro-Tastic Automotive Features Car Buyers Still Want
Classic cars are classic for a reason - and not just for their age. They're also classic for favored features that have long since disappeared from auto manufacturing, and a few of those features still are being requested by new car buyers. Here are a few noted by Swaplease.com, and a few we here at E3 Spark Plugs added to the list ourselves:
- Cassette players: As early as the 1950s, car owners wanted more variety in their traveling music choices than the radio dial offered. Enter Chrysler's Highway Hi-Fi, which played 7-inch discs in 16 2/3 rpm format exclusively from Columbia Records. But even that proved too limiting for consumers, particularly considering the $200 cost (over $1,700 in today's dollars). Since, we've seen multiple technologies come and go, including the 8-track, cassette, CD, MP3 and MP4, Bluetooth and digital radio. But apparently, it's the trusty cassette player - the one that heralded the introduction of one of mankind's best inventions, the mixtape - that's getting new 21st century attention, judging by a flurry of searches on Swaplease.com
- Running Boards: High-centered rides of the early and mid-20th century featured running boards to assure easy entry into a vehicle's cab, particularly for ladies donning those 1940s pencil skirts that certainly flattered a figure, but limited high-stepping range. Despite their becoming passé years ago, 1.6 percent of searches on Swapalease.com are for cars with running boards.
- Targa Roof: Popularized by the Porsche 911 Targa, these featured stationary back window and a continuous bar arching over the seats with removable roof panels. They afforded an airier ride than a T-top, but better protection than a convertible - The best of both worlds. It appears the Targa roof may be attempting a comeback, as it's an option on the 2015 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray and an increasingly frequent search on Swaplease.com.
- Leatherette / Vinyl Seats: Even today, you're going to pay extra to sit on material that once was attached to a cow. Still, man-made, leather-like materials standard in vehicles today are vastly superior to the old school vinyl that stuck your skin to the seat on the hot summer days of your youth when polyester jogging shorts and high tube socks were all the rage. Vintage vinyl was lower maintenance than real leather and resisted cracking and fading, making it a must-have in car throughout the 1960s and '70s. Never mind the fact that it's a far cry from meeting today' fire safety guidelines, upward of two percent of Swaplease.com searchers are on the hunt for rides with vinyl or leatherette seats.
- Whitewall tires: Sure, they're higher maintenance than a set of plain ol' all-black tires. But they dominated luxury rides during the 1930s when automobile design arguably was at its artistic best. And they're stylish enough to have been mentioned in a Billy Joel song. Enough said.
- Wings: A former necessity in the Southern states, window wings went the way of the Highway Hi-Fi once car air conditioners became standard. But many swear they cooled better and, of course, cheaper than a modern AC system that can drag down your gas mileage.
Which old school automotive features would you love to see make a comeback? Post your thoughts and your vintage vehicle pics on the E3 Spark Plus Facebook Fan Page.