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Sajeev
Community Manager

Community Question: What vintage automotive technology do you truly love?

This question is the retort to last week's question. It's about the crank windows of the world. The manual transmissions. The carburetors. The rally gauges and shaft radios. White letter tires and two door body styles. You name it, we can appreciate it! 

 

This question isn't necessarily about wishing the past never became the past (I personally love power windows in 4-door vehicles!) but that's fine if you feel that way. So tell us, what vintage automotive technology do you truly love? 

Photo: HagertyPhoto: Hagerty

39 REPLIES 39
ScaryLarryPants
Instructor

1. Fuel injection of any kind. And in spite of the rest of its faults (and errors concerning how it was deployed, oh yeah, and also the not-very-nice people who were doing all the deploying) fuel injection even helped make a superior plane out of the Messerschmitt Bf-109.

2. Disc brakes. They generally put a stop to the terror that was drum braking systems.

3. Overhead camshafts. I know peeps here love the LS engines, but lets get real, real power gets made with overhead cams.

4. The turbocharger. Getting them to work with older engines was a bit of a chore, but in the end, with modern engine management systems, they're practically on everything these days. 

5. Halogen lighting. The way forward to safety during nighttime driving has never been more illuminated, although it has since been wildly eclipsed by HID, LED, and now laser lighting systems. Halogen led the way, however.

6. In or on-car cameras: Nothing woke up the automobile in the entertainment world quite like the idea of an in-car or on-car camera shot:
headshot.jpg


Snailish
Engineer

Vintage things that are either gone or very difficult to get now:

 

-kick panel vents

-vent windows (I get they can bring hassles)

-manual crank windows

-manual seats with intelligent adjustments rather than make you wish for a power seat

-radio delete plates (I don't want a radio in all my things).

-manual buttons for things

-gauges that are independent of each other so it's not a whole cluster failing at once

-gas cap behind the licence plate

-a car you can drive with the windows down and not be buffeted by wind noise

-old refrigerant AC hasn't been matched that I have seen

-column shift for my auto trans commuter

-simple key locks (my 2013 truck has it on driver side only)

-Pontiacs with Ram Air hood scoops and hood tachs

 

 

Ones I probably don't really want:

-tissue dispenser

-spotlights

-pop up cowl vent

-pop out front windshield

-factory CB, 8 track or record player

MustangJim
Technician

Good list but you said Pontiacs with ram air scoops and hood tachs, how about just Pontiacs!

mchalewj
Intermediate Driver

Great List!  I would add the Chrysler push-button automatic transmission selector.

JSievers
Instructor

Many new cars now have push button gear selectors. 

mchalewj
Intermediate Driver

Yes they do, but none located on the dash to the left of the steering wheel.

wentwest
Intermediate Driver

I agree with you that the buttons can be on the dash.  I miss bench seats in the front, with usable legroom too now that front wheel drive is very common. 

What about:

mechanical pushbutton to open trunk

weatherproof covers over exterior locks

handles or a grab cord across the back of the front seat

upholstery made of woven cloth

a real spare tire

pickups with front fender heights low enough that I don't need a ladder to check the oil and extra cost running boards to get in

dyerhaus
Intermediate Driver

This could be a long list for me… but I'll keep it short, only the important stuff.

  1. Manual transmissions. I'm not one who has anything against automatic transmissions, or modern paddle transmissions—they all have their purpose and reason for existing. I just prefer old manual transmissions, in particular an old gated transmission.
  2. Analog gauges. Okay, I actually loathe screens in cars, can't stand that at all. Give me real gauges!!
  3. Vent windows. I've always loved those things, and they're so perfect for many driving situations.
  4. Stereos with a volume knob. As noted, I hate touch screens and I hate push-button volume controls.
  5. Plain steering wheel. By this I mean a steering wheel with no other controls on it, except for the horn in the center.
  6. Manual crank windows. These can come off their track on occasion, but you'll always be able to get them down. They won't fail to the point they're inoperable, and if they did, they're pretty easy to fix.
  7. Real keys. I'm really not a fan of modern keys that don't even have to be inserted into the car. Plus, I can still go to a locksmith and have keys made for $8 if I ever loose or break one.
  8. Door locks that use real keys. I don't really need to unlock my doors from 20 feet away.

 

Tinkerah
Engineer

Crank windows have variable speed ability, standard!

Britautoguy
New Driver

British electric overdrive in my MG.  As odd is it may seem, it was far ahead of the mass introduction of 5 speed gear boxes. 

DUB6
Specialist

Wing windows, baby!

IMAG0102 (2).jpg

Kind of my stock answer to many, many questions in life!  😄

farna
Instructor

You know they aren't supposed to be turned like that, right?  That's what messes up the seals in most -- people making "scoops" out of them! It's only supposed to be kicked out at a 30-40 degree angle. When moving air will come in the low pressure front and exit the rear, circulating through the car. I know it "scoops" more air in when rotated forward, just not the way they are designed to work. They really do work well for circulating air throughout the car when opened at 30-40 degrees while moving. You do need to be moving about 40-45 though. Paired with kick-panel vents and cracking a rear window a bit they really get air circulating! Not as good as AC, but good enough for moderate weather.

DUB6
Specialist

Well worded advice - which I will totally ignore, I assure you.  Not to sound ungrateful, but my windows, my angle.  Been cranking them clear open on vintage cars since I was driving tri-five Chevys in the early '60s.  Have I messed up seals?  Probably - doesn't jump up as a problem I remember though.  So, just like my nacho chips in the salsa, I'll continue to super-scoop my wing window air, thank you!  😃

Tinkerah
Engineer

You can dial in just the right amount of turbulence inside the car, or none, at any speed above 40 MPH or so too. 

DUB6
Specialist

I'm also a fan of vehicles that need personal, human interaction when it comes to Inspections.  None of this newfangled plug-our-computer-into-your-computer stuff.  Good old "open the hood and conduct eyes-on" Inspections, is what I say!

I say keep these vehicle inspectors employed!I say keep these vehicle inspectors employed!

TG
Technician

Repairing anything under the hood without having to remove three plastic covers, nine harness connectors, two brackets, and a coolant hose

jimv
Pit Crew

The vacuum switch opened Tripower carburetor systems with the wait for it reaction. 
The combination of accelerator pumps to start cold and choke fast idle cam kick off procedure. The manually operated pop up fresh air vent in the cowl area. Spotlights with hand controls and high and low beam settings. Front seat back assist hand cords. To name a few. Reserve fuel switch over valves too. 
Those were awesome!?!?

 

TG
Technician

Being able to adjust timing from the steering column

hyperv6
Racer

Mine is simple the floor dimmer for the head lamps. I loved going down back roads and having both hands on the wheel and dimming lights with my foot. 

MustangJim
Technician

Full size spare tire inside a useable trunk

hyperv6
Racer

Anymore many would take the compact spare over nothing. 

Tinkerah
Engineer

And there's surely a benefit to not carrying the extra weight of a full size spare over the lifetime of the car.

Snailish
Engineer

tires with sidewall

 

 

We swapped rim size down (a lot) on a 2012ish Ford Edge Sport and it rode so much better with twice as much sidewall as the "sporty" tires it was supposed to run.

kls2021
Pit Crew

I remember ‘60s’ Cadillacs having a “sentinel” device that auto dimmed headlights at the approach of oncoming cars at night. 

tripled
Intermediate Driver

More coupes and sports cars that don't start at $100,000, and many fewer SUV's.  

At least a manual transmission option on coupes and sports cars (BMW!!!!!!!!)

Real buttons and knobs for the stereo and climate controls.  Some touch screens with many menus are just dangerous.

Please stop increasing the size of each successive car model.  My older BMW's are starting to look like miniatures.

Tinkerah
Engineer

Save these for next week's question which will be "What really annoys you about modern cars"....Though I could be wrong about that....

Sachf563649
Pit Crew

Real headlights. The slashes on today’s cars project significant forward lighting because they’re blindingly bright. That’s because the shapes of the lights are inefficient. Headlights were round for so long because they use the properties of the parabolic dish. All the light emitting from the source is projected FORWARD.

FigueroB
Intermediate Driver

Add to that, headlights that don't resemble 1,000 watt ultra-violet bug zappers. 

RG440
Instructor

That’s a real easy one for me….

1.) Cable Operated Fresh Air to the engine/carbs labeled in the cabin “Carb Air”

2.) Four on the Floor with a Pistol Grip to Lock it In

3.) Three on the Tree

vjh
Pit Crew

Not much technology but cars with "wing windows"/vent windows" with no power windows, make summer drivable. Also, as a kid, the first time I rode in a car with the new fandango M-22 "Rock Crusher", thought that was really hip. Loved that whine!

 

Maybe that's why I now have a 1970 El Camino SS454 that has wing windows and Rock Crusher? Livin-the-dream baby!

RG440
Instructor

What “Plymouth” had to offer….

RG440
Instructor

Round Glass Headlights !

Continental57
Pit Crew

I always thought the Lincoln/Mercury/Edsel

"Multi-Luber" was a great idea. Had one on a 55 Lincoln. Push a button and your front end was lubricated !

Inline8OD
Technician

Just a repackaged version of the Bijur systems once common on higher end cars of the '20s and early '30s.

Racer50
Pit Crew

Lots of good comments here. One of the coolest features on cars that has been lost to time is exhausts that exit through the rear bumper. Lots of cars used them in the 50's. In fact, you could do an article showing all of the classics made even more beautiful by this feature.

 

Another feature that I personally like, but many others might disagree with, is manual steering. I hate having leaky steering on an older car and would much prefer the improved road feel that is achieved with manual steering. And an added benefit is that it helps keep us older drivers in shape.

Inline8OD
Technician

Vent windows, surely.  Never understood saddling a fine engine regardless power with air conditioning and the other gimracks people think they need.

 Also overdrive, a vast improvement in any old car because you can always shift down but it's a real drag to run out of gears.

Jnick
Advanced Driver

I have a Marvel Mystery upper cylinder lubricator on my Dodge truck, not factory but common add on.

 Also I miss cowl induction hoods Chevelles would open thermostatically Camaros by the throttle.

 I also miss simple radios that turn on by turning the knob and tune by the other knob. I can’t even listen to the radio on new cars because it’s too complicated while driving.

 I also miss temperature gauges that go up going up hill and down going downhill and don’t just sit in the middle always with no temperature on the dial.

Pistolgrip4
Pit Crew

Glass headlight covers, any shape, any size. Hate the discolored, faded, weather beaten plastic modules.

 

OnScout
Intermediate Driver

The ubiquitous cigarette lighter! Unlike many vintage technologies, it completely remade itself from the lowly butt burner to an essential lifeline for modern technology.