7 Classic Car Features That Revolutionized the Auto Industry

Fake hood vents

How do you make a car look faster without actually making it faster? Apparently, you just add wings, scoops, and vents wherever you can. Many classics leaned hard into the B-movie rocket ship designs with long tailfins, and pointy edges. Later, influence came from real racecars featuring effective aerodynamics. But once again the OEMs squandered the design. Take a close look at many sporty cars of the recent past and you’ll find wings that only create drag, as well as hood scoops and vents that are completely blocked off. So what’s the point?

Vacuum-Operated Anything

Somehow, it took until just a couple decades ago for some auto manufacturers to discover electricity. Until then, they utilized vacuum power to control some moving components. Old Corvettes relied on vacuum to operate their popup headlights, while the AMC Gremlin used it to move the windshield wipers back and forth. Other cars a few generations further back used vacuum to roll windows up and down. One problem with this is that only a running engine creates the vacuum needed to run these components. If the car is not running, then you’re out of luck. An even bigger problem was reliability. If you’ve ever had to diagnose a vacuum leak of a classic car, you’ve seen the complications of this design. Vacuum components rely on rubber seals and hoses, all of which deteriorate and crack over time. If you’re trying to bring a decades-old car back to life, don’t bother trying to replace just the bad vacuum lines. Replace it all and swap in electric motors wherever possible.

Car Alarms

What is the loudest sound that people ignore? Nine times out of ten, it’s obnoxious car alarms. The manufacturers implemented these with good intentions, but the outcome was less than helpful. False triggers are so commonplace that people won’t even look when an alarm goes off. The ’90s and 2000s excelled at creating the loudest and most annoying alarms. They featured sirens, beeps, and buzzers, as if mixing up the sound effects would draw more attention than a simple repeating horn. We’ve also had to deal with car alarm triggers differing from car to car and evolving over time. Did you lock the car with your key fob while the door was open, then shut the door? Did you accidentally pull the door handle before disarming the security system? Did you sneeze in the car’s general direction? Thankfully, security systems are becoming smarter and easier to live with. Plus, built-in camera systems are helping to catch the criminals instead of relying on noisemakers.

Driver Aids

Blindspot Warning System

Yes, this feature recently made the list as one of the best classic car features, but this is a two-sided coin. There’s no doubt that driver aids have evolved to save lives with stats to prove it. However, there’s a strong argument that driver aids are breeding worse drivers. The driving aids I’m talking about here are the awareness items. Manufacturers are removing the need for drivers to look around or be aware of their surroundings. Backup cameras removed the need to turn around and see what’s behind you. Blind spot detection removed the need to look over your shoulder while you change lanes. Automatic braking lets you close your eyes and hope for the best when there’s an impending crash. This all sounds great in theory, but it’s led to drivers paying less attention to their surroundings. Backup cameras and blind spot detectors don’t cover everything you can see with your eyes. And have a look at automatic braking test videos if you’re feeling confident in crossing the street without looking. As for lane keeping assist systems? I’m ranting at this point, but if you can’t keep a car between two lines, you should strongly consider public transportation

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