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Thread: Ten features you can't get in your next new car

  1. #1
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Ten features you can't get in your next new car


    You can get GPS, AWD and air bags in many new cars. But what about the things you can't get in any new car? Some features have simply disappeared. Others have been regulated (or legislated) out of existence. Here are a few you may remember - and wish you could still get:

    * Low-back bench seats. If you're over 40, you may have fond memories of driving with your significant other, right arm draped causally on top of the seat and around your Other's shoulder. No can do anymore - because of federal regulations that require seats provide neck/whiplash protection (as well as a three-point safety belt). This is why all modern cars have "full length" seats - with headrests. Bench seats, as such, haven't been outlawed - they've just been supplanted by the more popular "sport bucket" - and ubiquitous center console with storage cubby and cupholders.

    * Floorboard mounted high beam dimmer switch. Cars built before the early '80s often had the dimmer switch for the high beams on the floorboard, to the left of the brake/clutch. Concerns about safety led to the switch being relocated to a stalk on the steering wheel - but it's debatable whether the stalk-mounted switch (often "bundled" with other controls, such as the windshield wiper/cruise control) is actually safer, let alone easier-to-use.

    * Four-barrel carburetor. All new cars have some form of electronic fuel injection, largely for emissions control reasons. EFI allows the air/fuel ratio to be very precisely matched to engine operating conditions and needs - which lowers exhaust emissions and also improves fuel economy as well as drivability. But some of us miss the mechanical simplicity (and easy serviceability) of carburetors, as well as the unforgettable sound of the secondaries opening up under full throttle. That's something EFI simply can't deliver.

    * Sealed beam headlights. Cheap and easy to replace, these are still in use but disappearing rapidly as High Intensity Discharge (HID) and projector-beam light "assemblies" take their place. There's no question the new headlight systems offer better illumination. But there's also no question about their high cost. No more $25 changeouts. Damage a projector beam/HID "assembly" and you may be looking at a couple hundred bucks in replacement parts. Contact lenses (or even Lasik) might be cheaper over the long haul - and let you see just as clearly at night!

    * Hoods with outside latches. Thank thieves for the additional security (and hassle) of modern car hood latches that must be opened from inside the car. In years past, it was possible to access the engine compartment by simply rooting around inthe grille area until you found the lever that popped the hood. Now you have to first pull a handle inside the passenger compartment (often tucked way low, in a hard-to-reach place under the dash/steering wheel) to pop the first catch. Then you go around to the front of the car and open the final catch. Two steps instead of one. That's progress for you.

    * Gas fillers behind the rear license plate. Remember when you didn't have to remember to line your car up with the right (or left) side in order to fill up? It was also aesthetically pleasing to have the gas door hidden behind the license plate rather than cut into the car's flanks. But concerns about safety/security (no lockable "door" to prevent easy access to the vehicle's gas tank) led to the abandonment of the gas filler behind the plate. The only way to get one is to buy an older car that has one.

    * Manual locking 4x4. There may be a handful of base model pick-ups and SUVs that still offer manual locking hubs, but the trend is clearly toward "automatic" 4x4 with a knob that actuates 4 High or Low electronically. Of course, such systems are more complex and thus more prone to failure down the line. It may be less convenient to have to stop the vehicle and get out to lock (or unlock) the hubs. But these simple systems will last almost forever with proper care. And it's easier (and cheaper) to fix them when something does go wrong. No complex electronics - no big ticket repair bills.

    * "Three on the tree" manual transmission. All late-model vehicles with manual transmissions have floor (or console) mounted shifters. Column shifters were last used on pick-ups and have pretty much disappeared completely - mostly because floor/console-mounted shifters are considered to be "sporty" by the marketing gurus and product planners who get to decide what's in - and what's not. But there was something neat about the old school three on the the tree - and the sense of accomplishment that came with mastering the pattern.

    * Rear facing jumpseats. Remember the '80s-era Subaru Brat? It had a pair of backward-facing jumpseats built into the bed. If an automaker offered such a politically incorrect feature today, the line of personal injury lawyers would be longer than a late July afternoon. Don't expect to see this feature again anytime soon.

    * Two-stroke engines. You have to go back several decades, but there was a time when these evil little beasts were available as new car (and motorcycle) powerplants. But the vicious power curve - and cloud of lung-choking effluent - that accompanied the operation of any two-stroke engine assured their demise. Today, they're still used in chain saws and weed wackers - and a few aggressive off-road dirt bikes. But don't expect to see a street legal version in this (or the next) life.

    END

  2. #2
    Senior Member Kwozzie1's Avatar
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    Re: Ten features you can't get in your next new car

    * "Three on the tree" manual transmission. All late-model vehicles with manual transmissions have floor (or console) mounted shifters. Column shifters were last used on pick-ups and have pretty much disappeared completely - mostly because floor/console-mounted shifters are considered to be "sporty" by the marketing gurus and product planners who get to decide what's in - and what's not. But there was something neat about the old school three on the the tree - and the sense of accomplishment that came with mastering the pattern.

    And the Brits did it with 4 on the tree....

    Between drivng a 1954 Austin A40, A Jowett Javelin and A Peugeot 403 It was damn confusing They all had different patterns
    Rex
    On the Sunshine Coast, in the Sunshine State Queensland (QLD), Australia

  3. #3
    D_E_Davis
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    Re: Ten features you can't get in your next new car

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric

    Here are a few you may remember - and wish you could still get:
    Here's a list of items I remember well - and am quite glad that they are no longer available:

    * Low-back bench seats.

    * Floorboard mounted high beam dimmer switch.

    * Gas fillers behind the rear license plate.

    * "Three on the tree" manual transmission.



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    Re: Ten features you can't get in your next new car

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric

    Here are a few you may remember - and wish you could still get:
    I agree with Dennis except, maybe, for the foot operated dimmer.

    And would add: good riddance to the carburetor. The thing is no doubt a wonderful toy but EFI is vastly better IMO. (For us really OFs there are memories of manual chokes and throttles, too.)

    One of my pet dislikes which I think is still around, is the foot operated parking brake because there is no way to ease it off.

    Another good riddance are the pedals which operated through holes in the floor instead of being swing mounted.

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    Senior Member misterdecibel's Avatar
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    Re: Ten features you can't get in your next new car

    Vent windows.

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    Re: Ten features you can't get in your next new car

    Where is the "New Topic" button on this new format? I can't locate it anywhere

    Disregard--- I have located the button since then.

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    Re: Ten features you can't get in your next new car

    Quote Originally Posted by ChevyMan
    Where is the "New Topic" button on this new format? I can't locate it anywhere

    Disregard--- I have located the button since then.
    Oh? Where, pray tell.

    [added] I found it, too. Sorry!

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    Re: Ten features you can't get in your next new car

    Quote Originally Posted by pgranzeau
    Quote Originally Posted by ChevyMan
    Where is the "New Topic" button on this new format? I can't locate it anywhere

    Disregard--- I have located the button since then.
    Oh? Where, pray tell.
    First, log in, click on GENERAL CATEGORY, select, e.g., MOTOR MOUTH. Next screen shows:
    MARK AS READ * NOTIFY * NEW TOPIC * ADD POLL *.., right above the SUBJECT heading.

    Try it!

  9. #9
    Senior Member Kwozzie1's Avatar
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    Re: Ten features you can't get in your next new car

    Quote Originally Posted by D_E_Davis


    Here's a list of items I remember well - and am quite glad that they are no longer available:

    <---SNIP!--->

    * Gas fillers behind the rear license plate.

    * "Three on the tree" manual transmission.



    The filler cap always weemed to get jammed down there ...especially when in a hurry.

    Tree transmission...... well I always thought it was fun.. this huge lever...... but Jags never had them
    Rex
    On the Sunshine Coast, in the Sunshine State Queensland (QLD), Australia

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    Re: Ten features you can't get in your next new car

    Quote Originally Posted by Kwozzie1


    Tree transmission...... well I always thought it was fun.. this huge lever...... but Jags never had them
    Actually, the original Jaguar S-type and the 420 had a manual 4 speed transmission plus a tree mounted selector for "OVERDRIVE"!!!

    Does that count?

  11. #11
    Senior Member Kwozzie1's Avatar
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    Re: Ten features you can't get in your next new car

    Quote Originally Posted by swamprat

    Actually, the original Jaguar S-type and the 420 had a manual 4 speed transmission plus a tree mounted selector for "OVERDRIVE"!!!

    Does that count?
    What was the shift pattern of the overdrive ;D ;D ;D ;D
    Rex
    On the Sunshine Coast, in the Sunshine State Queensland (QLD), Australia

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    Re: Ten features you can't get in your next new car

    >>Here's a list of items I remember well - and am quite glad that they are no longer available:

    * Low-back bench seats.

    * Floorboard mounted high beam dimmer switch.

    * Gas fillers behind the rear license plate.

    * "Three on the tree" manual transmission. <<

    Add me to the "I'm glad they are gone" list.


  13. #13
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: Ten features you can't get in your next new car

    I really liked the low-back seats, myself... very pleasant (even if "unsafe").

  14. #14
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: Ten features you can't get in your next new car

    "One of my pet dislikes which I think is still around, is the foot operated parking brake because there is no way to ease it off."

    Amen - it's foul.

    But I do love my carbs....


  15. #15
    D_E_Davis
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    Re: Ten features you can't get in your next new car

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric
    I really liked the low-back seats, myself... very pleasant (even if "unsafe").
    Pleasant, you say? I found the bench seats, with the plastic seat covers, in Dad's 52 Plymouth a real pain as any left turn had the driver sliding over to the right door! But then I came home on leave to find that Dad had bought and installed seat belts (in 1953!) - that made me a seat belt devotee forever.


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    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: Ten features you can't get in your next new car

    "Pleasant, you say?"


    Yep, I so say!

    I enjoyed being able to rest my entire right arm directly on the top of the seat; and when my wife rode along, she could sit right next to me - not on the other side of the car, with a console between us.

    Not so safe? Admittedly? But so is riding motorcycles, 15 mile death runs and other activities I very much enjoy!

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    Re: Ten features you can't get in your next new car

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric
    "One of my pet dislikes which I think is still around, is the foot operated parking brake because there is no way to ease it off."

    Amen - it's foul.

    But I do love my carbs....

    To add another unmissed feature: tires with tubes and bias ply tires good for maybe 20k miles.

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    Re: Ten features you can't get in your next new car

    >>But I do love my carbs....<<

    Junk when compared to computer controlled fuel injection---
    If you love carbs, you probably love drum brakes, too!

    Riding my Helix today, I got really lucky and fell in behind a damn Trans Am-- with a carb-- idling very rich and dumping raw hydrocarbons into the air. The thing was rich enough to gag a maggot---- My scooter could have run behind it on the fumes if I could have managed to breathe!

  19. #19
    D_E_Davis
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    Re: Ten features you can't get in your next new car

    Quote Originally Posted by jdm
    To add another unmissed feature: tires with tubes and bias ply tires good for maybe 20k miles.
    Take a trip to Colombia. There, the only way to fix a flat was to put a tube in the OEM tubless tires. I averaged a flat every two weeks in the 18 weeks I was there.


  20. #20
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: Ten features you can't get in your next new car

    "Junk when compared to computer controlled fuel injection---
    If you love carbs, you probably love drum brakes, too!"

    Now that's just absurd... and I know you know better !

    The Q-Jet-fed 455 in my Trans-Am rivals the output of any new EFI-fed V-8. It also starts immediately and never stumbles, dies or floods. I have an '03 Japo sport bike with four carbs; the system works magnificently and you would be hard-pressed to tell th difference between this bike and a bike with FI. (Sport bikes are going to FI for the same reason cars did - emissions.)

    The difference between EFI and carbs is primarily that EFI is more idiot-proofed. EFI requires little, if any, regular maintenance (beyond occasional cleanings). But that comes at a price. An EFI set-up is at least 2-3 times more expensive than a carbed set-up. And EFI requires a computer controller, as well as specific components, such as pump(s), lines, etc. These involve greater complexity - and make service (when necessary) both more difficult as well as more expensive.

    I can replace the carb on a car like my old Pontiac with a brand-new one for around $400. And that's all I need (the intake manifold never wears out). I can install the carb in 10 minutes using the most basic hand tools.

    An EFI system would run around $1,500. And that's for a cheap TBI system that isn't much of an improvement over a good two-barrel carb. Multi-point EFI and you're looking at $2,000. I can rebuild my entire engine (including new forged pistons) for that sum!


    "
    Riding my Helix today, I got really lucky and fell in behind a damn Trans Am-- with a carb-- idling very rich and dumping raw hydrocarbons into the air. The thing was rich enough to gag a maggot---- My scooter could have run behind it on the fumes if I could have managed to breathe!"

    So?

    I would be willing to bet the TA had EFI (the last Trans Am with a carb was built in '87 .. was the car you were behind that old?) In any case, it could just as easily have been a problem with the cold start enrichment circuit. The fact that it was running rich/out of tune doesn't impugn carburetors (or EFI) as such.

    It does suggest poor maintenance, though!



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