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Hagerty
Hagerty Employee

10 pieces of '80s car tech we still miss

On August 20 at Bicester Heritage, Radwood U.K. will be celebrating the cars, music, and culture of the 1980s and 1990s. Some channeling their inner Sonny Crockett, dressed in a white linen suit and a pair of espadrilles. Maybe accompanied by a pet alligator named Elvis-although you might want to check with Bicester Heritage before bringing a large reptile to the event.
https://www.hagerty.com/media/lists/10-pieces-of-80s-car-tech-we-still-miss/
112 REPLIES 112
Snailish
Engineer

The list article is one of the better ones, probably makes the "top 10 list articles at Hagerty" list.

^cheeky, sure. But the list is on topic and well-explained. Some other poster will cite a missing item or two but you got me as far as the 80s and tech go.

Bleeding into the 90s though, the under-the-body light kits were a big deal to some. As were the 6+ disc changers in the trunk.
DUB6
Specialist

Hey man, don't be dissin' my 6-disc CD changer in the trunk.  It's the best thing I got going for me when it comes to tunes on the cruise.  😋

ScaryLarryPants
Instructor

The wife's '05 Mercedes was apparently swanky enough to get a changer in the glovebox. There's still some preference, however, to the 6-disc factory Ford changer in the trunk of my recently-deceased Lincoln Mark VIII, because of where the changer was located, you had to be fairly serious about what you reeeeeeeally wanted to listen to, because it was such a pain in the posterior to swap out CD's in that car.

I don't miss either system, due to the introduction of the USB port which allows for thumbdrives with gigs of data to be inserted and left plugged in...forever.

DUB6
Specialist

   Swanky indeed!  I'm not swanky enough to have "gigs of data" (presumably music, but maybe e-books or podcasts?) at my disposal.  I do have a couple of thumbdrives, but I think they mostly contain some photos and an Excel spreadsheet or two.  Not much use on a car stereo.  I suppose I could subscribe to (and thus pay money to) some sort of streaming service and load up a thumbdrive, but that would take away precious time that I now have to read and respond to clever posts on this site!  😃

ScaryLarryPants
Instructor

I didn't get very technical with the creation of the latest contents of  thumbdrive, I simply jammed something like 1200 songs in there in no particular order so I would have a ridiculous playlist with little possibility of hearing the same song twice during what remains of my lifetime.

And yes, the creation of said list did indeed become something of a time vaporizer, in which I could have had more fun in here, but then again, maybe it was safer for everyone's eternal souls that I didn't use that time to continue to create content that offends everyone's senses.

Oldimpala
Detailer

I had an '06 E-Class (still miss it), with a 6-disc hidden under a wooden panel, below the radio.

You pushed a button, a motor opened the panel, and the cd changer magically appeared....

Really cool, until either the cooling motor broke, or it jammed. Not so bueno then.
Trhinehart
Pit Crew

I was reading your reply and I have a 2010 Chrysler Sebring Limited
convertible that has a 6 disc cd player IN the radio. You push a button
and the radio face moves down revealing the disc opening. Nice to have
when the radio doesn't play anything worth listening to.
janedon
Advanced Driver

My 2004 Mitsubishi 5 disc player is built into the dash-
HistoryFan
New Driver

About 10 years ago I converted my 350 or so albums to MP3 format, one song at a time. I have most of them on a thumb drive plugged into my 2008 Mini Cooper Clubman and can listen to the songs of my youth into eternity.
MustangJim
Technician

My Mustang has a 6 disk changer built right into the dash...luxury!
DUB6
Specialist

No kidding.  That IS luxurious.  I have to actually:

  1. sort the trunk key (from the 3 keys on the Pontiac ring)
  2. walk around to the back of the car
  3. insert the key in the lock and turn it
  4. open the trunk lid and lean in
  5. push a little button on the changer to open a cover and release the disc holder

Whew, I'm all worn out just thinking about it.  You are probably 45 seconds into your first song before I even get a CD inserted into the tray!  😂

MustangJim
Technician

LOL.. well you know what they say...if you have to work for it, you appreciate it more!

DUB6
Specialist

Well, I DO like actual keys, knobs, buttons, levers and switches - so the process involves things I enjoy.  And when the tunes kick in, I definitely enjoy them.  So, yeah.  😉

Smilodon
Instructor

My '04 GTO came with a Blaupunkt audio system featuring a 6disc CD changer in dash. I've since ditched that (still have the unit in storage) for a CD and Bluetooth/WiFi enabled Pioneer head unit that controls 1000w of in car speakers and 1800w of subwoofers, all EQ done by the internal mic/computer. No matter how I adjust, the Pioneer knows better. Sounds better, too. And I can play a CD if I choose! Yay modern tech.
BMD4800
Gearhead

My wife and I were telling the kids about the old times, she discussed flipping through her phone book sized CD catalog while driving. We discussed car phones, cassette tapes, and manual windows.

I lamented the early 90s when exhaust shops in the Midwest stopping re-installing new dual exhaust systems. Prior, the rule was no cat, no problem. Then someone got sued, or used leaded gas, party was over. A bunch of quiet garbage after that.
IROC-MIKE
Pit Crew

Whats a Phone Book?😂

Tinkerah
Engineer

What's a CD?!
BMD4800
Gearhead

It’s like you where there.   

Of course first day of 1st grade meet the teacher was fun…oh is this your grandfather?  Nope, that’s my dad.  All the side eyes from the other parents quickly doin the maths.  

ScaryLarryPants
Instructor

What do I miss the most?

Definitely digital dashes.

I owned four Fords (?) with those, almost managed to snag an earlier C4 Corvette with one, and I seem to recall another car with a digital dash, but can't recall what it was (GM product?).

What do I miss the least?

Every one of the RWD-based automatic overdrive transmissions from both Ford and General Motors.

Jim86
Pit Crew

80's Riviera T Type Turbos and full digital dash and information screen of the 86 Riviera. 80's (C4) Corvettes had the digital dash. All cost $$$ now to have them repaired or rebuilt.
Thwini
New Driver

I had a ‘79 S-Type Riviera Turbo (forerunner to the T-Types). Silver on Red Velour. Loved that car! But when the turbo went I replaced it and then the motor blew up. I un-turboed it and stuck a junkyard motor in. I promptly traded it on a new… wait for it…Renault Fuego Turbo! That was a great car as long as it lasted, which wasn’t long.
HV24
Intermediate Driver

C4 Corvette digital dash was amazing. As a UK driver being able to switch between imperial (Deg F, gallons etc.) to metric (Deg C, litres etc.) with the push of a button was great.
HoustonNurse
Intermediate Driver

Velour Seats!!!!!!!!!!! Who didn't "love" them. Posh and luxurious.... until they wore a bit.... but the COLORS........... Doesn't everyone over 40 miss COLOR on the inside of a car. White Caddies with blue interiors... Green cars with Green interiors... Red interiors.. Brown Leather.. Lincoln Designer Series with blue leather... read trim... All anyone, even the "premium" makers offer is Black, Tan or... hmmmmm Black or tan............ I want a Gremlin Levi's edition..............
Bostwick9
Advanced Driver

The velour in my 86 Calais has worn like iron. Velour for the win.
Cows don't need to die for my creamy white perky buttocks to perch on.
MattK
Advanced Driver

Haa, I had an 86 Calais also! My first new car. First year for the third brake light advertising your newness, lol. It was silver with a blue velour interior, blue dash and silver trim! It was a great car.
leduced
Intermediate Driver

Good cloth interiors were gorgeous, some with patterns. Early 60's Olds, Pontiacs, Impalas,
and various other makes & models. We had a Caddy special ordered with Navy velour that was still like new after 100K miles, never cold in winter or too hot in summer. I miss those options. Too much "BLACK VYNYL" W/BLACK TRIM, hot in summer, cold in winter, not for me....
Jim
Pit Crew

My 2006 BMW 330Ci ZHP came with BMW's version - never hot in the summer and never cold in the winter - I HATE leather.
RG440
Instructor

How many years of grey interiors have we put up with to date??? Yawn…Bring back the colors ! Burnt orange interior was one of my favorites.
Smilodon
Instructor

Knew a kid in highschool that had a '70 Dodge Coronet R/T in Hemi orange with a burnt orange vinyl interior, black dashpad/headliner, a really cool look.
MustangJim
Technician

Thats a good one. I was thinking that I did'nt miss anything , but those seats we're nice and they wore well
Will
Intermediate Driver

For Sure! (had to use a rad term) I just bought an '89 C4. It has lots of '80's goodies. Red leather interior, Pop-up headlights, digital dash and power antenna.

I miss colors on the outside too. Way too many black, grey and white out there.
Smilodon
Instructor

You just hurt my heart. I graduated in '78, so my youth was filled with colorful cars with equally colorful interiors... and where did all the green cars/interiors go? Dad worked for GM (Delco-Remy plant in Anderson Indiana), I remember cars with two and (gasp!) three color interiors. My '04 Tahoe is blah beige inside. My '04 GTO is funeral black, with red guage faces. A white drop top with a vivid red interior? Yes, please!
Cgidlof
Pit Crew

My 1970 Firebird has a Delco AM radio and a factory Delco 8-track. They both work!
hyperv6
Racer

I really don’t miss much as anything worthy is still with us like Fuel Injection etc.

The 80’s was exciting at the time coming from the dark ages of the car 70’s of decline.

But looking back from today things are much better car wise and performance wise just the people today take it for granted.

With most cars and CUV models showing 250 to 320 hp most forget we manage many cars with 90 hp. Same on weight as sone bumbles along at or below 3,000 pound where today it is 3500 to 4200 pounds for a car.

Much of the rest was a short lived trend or fad.

 

One fad I liked was the fake switches you could purchase that said machine guns or rocket launcher you could stick on. 

Mister2
New Driver

I had an electronic horn in my ‘72 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme that had a playlist with more than 100 short songs. It had college fight songs, popular show tunes, the obligatory Dukes of Hazard ditty and so much more. What a great car - and what a wonderful hobby it steered me into! I love reading articles like this and other readers comments!
ScaryLarryPants
Instructor

I seem to recall that J.C. Whitney sold those, along with my perennial favorite: The Elvis Presley "Love Me Tender" turn signal chime.

4RenT
Advanced Driver

One night on the Johnny Carson show, him and his guest were talking about the new "talking car".
(I think it said "A door is ajar!")
The guest said he hoped German cars would not follow the trend, because they would most likely shout orders to the driver; "Make A Left!"
B^)
BiffNotZeem
Intermediate Driver

In high school, a friend had a talking Chrysler. He never got tired of saying "When is a door not a door?" and then holding the door open to let the car say the punchline.
Truthworldwide
Detailer

Great article. That was fun.

One of the things I lament the most is interiors in, you know, colors. Reds, blues, even greens as a primary color. Sometimes complimentary, sometimes garish, never boring .
tcchuck2005
Intermediate Driver

Not tech, but prices back then would be what I miss the most.
billyr
Pit Crew

You missed the clutch.
LamboEd
Detailer

My S10 Extreme still has its original factory cassette player!
My 75 custom Trans Am sitll has its add on 8-track player (I guess that is more 70's technology!)
Camarojoe
Detailer

The only technology on this list that continues to pop up is four wheel steering. Now GM has crab walking for serious off-roading, although it's on the gargantuan EV hummer. At one point Pontiac was working on three wheel steer. The though was the outside tire on a maneuver was not really that important, so only one had to move. Worked well but in the late 90ties didn't have enough computing memory to sort it out....then Pontiac disappeared...so maybe what I miss most from the 80ties is Pontiac, Oldsmobile, even Plymouth and Mercury!
sego
Intermediate Driver

My Aunt had the talking Chrysler New Yorker. When she took a hard turn the car would tell her the washer fluid was low and she'd talk back to it: "No, idiot, I'm just making a hard turn"!
My New Edge GT has both cassette and cd. Love that I can play those old tapes and discs.
JB2
Pit Crew

Still have a Fuego Turbo, it's really fun to drive a slow car fast
MustangJim
Technician

I forgot about Fuego turbos, I liked them. Glad you still enjoy one!
Bostwick9
Advanced Driver

CD players. I continue to have them installed. I just burned an Italo/Euro dance CD yesterday [ 25 tracks all radio versions, couldn't find the extended versions ] and have errands to run today.
Looking forward to it.
Digital dashboards were a joke to me back then and still are.
Pop up headlamps maybe. Unnecessary styling frippery, really, like the gimmicky digital dash.
Answers to questions no one asked.
mfp4073
Advanced Driver

The first thing I do is install a C.D. player. All my vehicles! I am not the only one. Local dealer says more people ask if a car has a C.D. player more often than any of the Apple, Android, Star Wars, player tech combined.
C7W289
Intermediate Driver

I drove an older lady's chrysler late one night and as I turned a corner the dash shouted in the darkness, "Wiper fluid low!" . I almost generated some wiper fluid right there.