By on October 29, 2013

Ah, the good old days. A time when smartphones were just PDA’s with hormone imbalances.

A time of basic cell phones, brick-thick cameras, and camcorders barely big enough to require a hand strap.

I remember all this old tech like it was yesterday, and for one simple reason: I still used all of them until recently.

Until about a month ago, I used the same basic cell phone I got for free back in 2008.

Absolutely nothing special, the bare bones MetroPCS phone enabled one-handed dialing and texting without even looking at the screen.

One thumb and dome. I mean, done.

That primitive device was brutally brilliant for yours truly because it was essentially “dope resistant”. It withstood a 45-MPH launch from  a Lincoln Town Car’s hood with nary a scratch.  I lost it dozens of times, once for two days. Yet I would invariably find it again and continue to beat it like a red-headed stepchild.

In time it was scratched, kicked, dropped, thrown, and beaten all to hell.

I treasured it. With each passing month, that miniature screen would get a little bit more faded and dim. Sometimes – not often…maybe once a month – the screen would freeze up or a button would stick.

No worries. At least not for a guy in a time warp. Even a few minutes of downtime each month was not nearly enough for me to invest in modern smartphones. Five-hundred dollars for a friggin’ phone? Ha! Not from this frugal zealot!

Then something happened…

smasher

I left it on top of a Subaru Outback and gave the keys to one of my customers. After a ten-minute test drive I heard the words that would change the course of my technological future.

“Steve, I really like this Outback. But I heard this strange clunking sound when I made my first turn. Are the CV joints okay?”

“Ummmm… I think it was my cell phone.”

A futile search on the nearby intersection yielded nothing more than a shocking amount of litter, and mild amusement from the passersby.

The time had come.

It was September 19th, 2013, and the cost of not having a phone for my business was far more dire than the relatively low cost of buying a good phone…a damn good phone…maybe even…the best phone?

So I powered up my fully-functional 2001 Pentium 4 with Windows XP and Googled “cell phones” and “best.”  A relentless assault of one-worded responses confronted me:

iPhone.

It was not because the iPhone was better than the Galaxy S4, which was better than the HTC One, which was…. what the hell are all these things?

No, it was because Apple was releasing the new iPhone 5C and 5S models the next day.

So I went to Wal-Mart.

And the AT&T store.

And T-Mobile.

And Best Buy.

But the iPhone 5S was nowhere to be found. It was worse than Chrysler’s release of the new Jeep Cherokee. I couldn’t find this thing in my neck of the woods to save my ass from first base.

I had to do something, anything, to get a decent cell phone.

I Facebooked. I called friends. I contacted people that I’m not even sure are my friends anymore.

One guy offered me a phone, but batteries were no longer available for that (2007) model.  However, the teenage girl working at the battery store was my savior.   She ducked in the back and emerged with something small, pink, and adorned with a Hello Kitty sticker.

I quietly sighed, but left with a new battery and the following phone for $40.

lollipop

The damn thing’s called a lollipop.

Back in 2010 these phones were state-of-the-art…for the low end. But it could do pictures, voice, and even send your photos off to Kodak.

Kodak! Damn!  I was hitting the big time!

Within two days, I had it deciphered and was busy texting and calling away. The flip design would keep the sub-two-inch screen in stellar shape. All would be well again in my world.

Until, that is, I attended a nearby media event. Here, I realized brutal truth of my Luddite life.

I was the sole guy at the event without a smartphone. Not only that, I was the only journalist not typing away before the event began.

When the new car rolled out, they simply  snapped photos with their phones and sent them.

To online publications…to their social media pages…and probably a half-dozen other places thanks to various apps.

Me? I go and unsheath a 2005,  5-megapixel Sony digital camera, whose lens extends like a three-inch probe. I wait for the right exposure, take two pictures, and then the thing spontaneously seizes up in my hand like the relic it is.

Confession time: It wasn’t always like this for me; I used to be a hardcore technophile.

Party on Wayne!

Party on Wayne!

Twenty years ago, I was the first student at my college with a laptop. Thanks to it helping me overcome a fine motor impairment, my grades skyrocketed.  That’s Wayne by the way…

Technology was a beautiful thing in my life, and I almost accepted an offer with an IT consulting firm before my love for cars took over.

The car business, and the interrelated world of auto auctions, became my career, and I eventually became a ”tool guy” technologically.

If the hammer works, just keep on using it. Because “new” means “money”. And “nearly-new” means “nearly free.” And “old” means durable and often perfect for my limited needs.

vw

A lot of long-time auto enthusiasts look at cars in much the same way. Older vehicles, especially those past a decade or even two, can perform the same functions as new models for a fraction of the cost.

Then again, you do miss a few pieces of technology as you go back in time: navigation, stability control, airbags. Everything from the steel polymers used to make vehicles, to the maintenance requirements for a daily driver, have changed substantially within the last ten years.

So here’s my question: Where do you draw the automotive line between old and new? Does a car with ABS, traction control, and dent resistant panels, like a 1992 Saturn, earn the right to be seen as a contemporary? Or does it have to Sync, Link, CUE and Think with mobile and hands-free technologies?

Where do you draw that line?

Oh, and if you happen to have a spare gold iPhone 5S with 30 times more gigabytes than my “pre-Ipod” computer, feel free to let me know.

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96 Comments on “Hammer Time: Old Tech / New Tech...”


  • avatar

    For me, a “new car” must have:

    #1 a navigation system with bluetooth and USB to charge/play from smartphones.

    #2. A moonroof

    #3 leather heated and ventilated/cooled seats

    #4. Ultrasonic backup sensors.

    If you want to win me over: Front parking sensors and more than 450 horsepower.

    • 0 avatar
      HerrKaLeun

      what is up with #4? backup camera is almost standard nowadays and it really only cost $10 (for the OEM, what they charge is a different story) assuming LCD screen is in cars anyway.
      and front sensors? why not use the windshield to look forward when driving forward?

      And for the navigation, use the smartphone. Google maps is 100 times better than what an OEM isntalls nad is up to date for free (except data cost).

      • 0 avatar
        darkwing

        The backup camera works well for pulling out of a shopping center parking lot, but when maneuvering a modern bloatasaurus in tight city garages, or parallel parking, it’s not sufficient.

        Google Maps is nice when you’re in a pinch or a rental, but it can’t compare to dedicated hardware. Not to mention it requires cellular reception. And in typical Google fashion, the data is flashy but spotty and the geocoder is schizophrenic.

        • 0 avatar
          TheAnswerIsPolara

          You can download offline maps in Google. Been available about a year now. those “ipads” glued to the dashboard look as silly as the LCDs on the backs of seats. At least I don’t have to look at the latter.

          I really like the camera in my Avalon. It has lines drawn that do a great job identifying where the edges of the car are.

        • 0 avatar
          philipwitak

          “…a modern bloatasaurus in tight city…”

          there’s your problem. bloatasaurus’ – though ‘modern’ they may be – just don’t do well in contemporary urban environments.

          • 0 avatar
            darkwing

            Shouldn’t it be “bloatasauri”?

            Actually, contemporary urban environments — meaning ones built more recently — are generally fine. It’s antiquated urban environments, that can’t be upgraded either for cost reasons, or, more often, because of an alliance between the anti-car crowd and the chauffeured powers that be, that are the problem.

      • 0 avatar
        bunkie

        The camera works great when you are looking at the screen. The beep of the backup sensor when a pedestrian walks in back of your car during the moment you glance away for a moment to check the clearance at one of the front corners can be very useful.

        The other use comes by way of an anecdote. I park in a Manhattan garage and use bumper protectors. A few weeks ago, I noticed the “parking sensor disabled” message on the panel. After a moment’s thought I realized that I had left the rear protector on. Not a very common application, I’ll admit, but it possibly saved my bumper protector and, more importantly, may have prevented a possible accident from it flying off.

    • 0 avatar

      We had back-up sensors added to the new van we bought this summer and, frankly, I wish we hadn’t. The ones that were mounted on the Mazda MPV we used to own were really good and had a pleasant sound but the ones on our Chrylser are shrill and annoying.

      To make matters worse, they go off for the silliest reasons. They go off when we back past our Pontiac in the drvieway even though the monitor and my mirrors show my that I have space. The go off when we get to that little ramp between our driveway and the street because, I don’t know why – maybe becasue there is a slight angle and a seam there? It is just constant. One of these days, I’m going to have to find the fuse for it…

      Other than that, all the other bells and whistles seem OK. The blue tooth was easy to set up and its neat to get a call while we are driving. Also, I never thought I would want a car with DVD players for the kids, but now that I have experienced them I think they are just about the greatest innovation ever. Still, I reserve judgement on all this because I know the more stuff you put on a car, the easier it is for stuff to break.

    • 0 avatar
      Syke

      I’m happy with an engine, four wheels, manual transmission, excellent handling, decently reliable.

      Power windows are appreciated. Sunroof would be nice. Anything else (including safety nannies) are not needed. Stereo is appreciated, but defnitely optional.

      So far, a Porsche 924/944 is my idea of the perfect car. Very sporting, reliable (no, I’m not joking), and practical. I still have some regrets trading mine in. The only reason I did is that I’ve never owned a roadster – and I’m not getting any younger.

    • 0 avatar
      chicagoland

      Sunroof should be optional, not everyone can fit, and it is a true luxury, not like backup sensors/cameras. Also, not everyone can afford leather heated seats, too.

      • 0 avatar
        dolorean

        Totally disagree with the camera. Been damn near run over several times at a grocery store or mega-box-big-deal-sale-always-pack-all store by some ditz in a Cement Mixer SUV or 4DoorPickup who, without utilizing any of the archaic mirrors or Gawd forbid to look around them, just rooooollllllllsss that bad boy out of their space like they are the only one that matters. That was apparently my fault for not being within the 7″ screen of their backup camera, though I can clearly see them from their rearview mirror.

        Leather. Sunroof. Heated seats. USB port. At least 30 average MPG. 5 or 6 spd manual. If used, no rust or that weird GM flaky, cancer paint option. Done.

  • avatar
    Halftruth

    I def like the reliability of fuel injection and the added safety of airbags in today’s vehicles. For all of the other techno goodies, I have to pass. NAV, LDW, adaptive cruise, in flight entertainment- no thanks.. Lived without it before just fine. Less is more for me, crank winders, bench seat and a stick shift.. If the damn thing is going to have so much tech to isolate me from the driving experience, well, I might as well take the bus instead.

    There, line drawn :) .

  • avatar
    HerrKaLeun

    Good article, Steven. I think the same… until the moment I get into a new car and the car automatically plays the music from my phone and then i realize i want bluetooth as well.

  • avatar
    photog02

    The demarcation for a modern car, at least for me, is anything after the 1970s. That is when cars became easier to start (fuel injection- the electric kind and not the mechanical kind found on some early sports cars), easier to drive, quieter, more reliable, and less likely to kill you in a crash. However, it is absolutely true that a huge change has occured in the last decade, the biggest of which is safety. Cars gained more and more active safety systems (such as FCW, LDW, ESC, etc.) and got even better in the passive safety department. You can walk away from a crash in a recent car that would have killed you in a 15 year old car. That is the biggest change.

  • avatar
    Quentin

    Toys wise: bluetooth audio streaming is pretty much the best thing ever. Our MINI has the aux input and after being spoiled by the Prius v and 4Runner’s bluetooth audio streaming, the aux input is annoying and primative. I hate having to grab the phone, press a button, and press a virtual button to skip tracks. On my bluetooth audio phones, the steering wheel controls and head unit controls do all the work.

    General function: fuel injection and newer. Traction control is definitely nice to have as it works really well on most vehicles. I haven’t needed stability control, but it is nice to have.

    • 0 avatar
      afflo

      The problem with bluetooth audio is that it drains batteries very quickly. If I have to plug in my iPhone, I may as well plug it into the USB input instead of the cigarette lighter*.

      My car doesn’t fully integrate the bluetooth and audio – the bluetooth overrides the stereo, and seizes control of the speakers. If I play audio directly through the bluetooth, I use the bluetooth controls to adjust the volume, and control of the audio is strictly through the device.

      If I connect it through the USB, I can use the menus on the head unit, skip tracks with the wheel mounted controls, and have the current track/artist on the display. This works with both media stored on the iPhone and streaming radio services. Because the bluetooth is connected as well, I can also hit the BT button on the dash and have Siri take care of various tasks, such as sending/reading texts, loading navigation directions, and playing selected artists. (I.e. “Siri, play music by Aerosmith.” “Siri, text my wife I’m on my way.” “Siri, read my last text.” “Siri, give me directions home”)

      * Cigarette Lighter vs “power-point” could be another differentiator!

      • 0 avatar
        Quentin

        Neither of my Toyotas tend to drain my iPhone battery. Since I’m not messing with the phone while driving, it might lose 20% of the battery over 4 hrs of streaming. GPS and general phone usage is a much bigger battery killer in my experience.

        The USB is definitely nice and it does work a bit better for interface control (album artwork, more browsing options), but when I’m just commuting or running into the city with my wife for dinner, the bluetooth audio streaming works perfectly. Hop in and go.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    I feel much the same, I still use my Blackberry 8330 I got in 2009. It’s not that I hate new technology, it’s just that it still works so damn well. Why throw it away and spend hundreds on a new one when I’d use it for the same things; calling, texting and email? The battery still lasts 2 days after a charge and it’s never let me down.

    If cars depreciated like phones, I’d probably still drive my first or second car.

    • 0 avatar
      kvndoom

      Rocking a technologically ancient Bold 9650NC here. It’s the second best phone you can buy in the United States that doesn’t have a camera (work requirement). The best? Still another damn Blackberry (9930). I’d be lying to say I’d own the same phone if I had a real choice.

    • 0 avatar
      afflo

      The biggest problem with cell phone plans has been the old business model. You buy a phone at a “discounted” price up front in return for a two year contract. This essentially means that you pay a down payment, and you have you monthly installments hidden in your bill.

      If you don’t upgrade your phone, you are essentially paying installments forever. The only phone company to acknowledge this ripoff has been T-mobile, which now openly advertizes the phones as being sold with a downpayment and montly installments which are separate from your service charges. Once you pay off the phone, the installment payment (usually ~$20/mo) drops off. If you buy your phone outright, you never have the installment part in the first place.

      By the AT&T/Verizon system, if you kept the phone for 2 years after the two year installment period, you would pay an extra $480. It’s like buying a car with a large down payment, and having to pay montly installments for as long as you want to drive it.

      • 0 avatar
        Quentin

        This! If you are going to stick with AT&T, Verizon, or any big carrier, you are best off to upgrade every 2 years and sell your old phone. If you aren’t going to upgrade, you are best off leaving AT&T or Verizon for a pay as you go style service. I’m with AT&T now, but I’m very likely to just move my 5 over to someone like T mobile.

        • 0 avatar
          segfault

          “If you aren’t going to upgrade, you are best off leaving AT&T or Verizon for a pay as you go style service.”

          This is the secret the big, bad cell phone companies don’t want you to know: Even if you are going to upgrade your phone every two years, it’s less out of pocket to buy a new, expensive unlocked phone and use it with an MVNO like Straight Talk or Airvoice.

          • 0 avatar
            darkwing

            So close…if you would have called it “one weird secret”, you could have been straight out of a banner ad.

            You’re conflating pre- and post-paid service. Hardly a meaningful comparison.

          • 0 avatar
            segfault

            darkwing,

            There is little or no difference between prepaid and postpaid for many users. I pay far, far less out of pocket with an MVNO than I did with AT&T, I’m using the same network with the same usage pattern as before, and I can upgrade my phone on my own schedule.

          • 0 avatar
            afflo

            What’s the deal with Straight Talk? It’s the Wal-Mart brand prepaid service, right?

            One of my coworkers told me to check it out – he has the $45/month service with the 2.5 gb data cap, but he can’t use it as a wifi hotspot (that saves me money because I can cancel the iPad cellular service).

            T-mobile is a no-contract carrier now, btw, but they set up their structure so that you can pay for part of the phone cost in installments – that way they still compete with the contract carriers.

          • 0 avatar
            darkwing

            There would be no difference for some users, sure. But that’s hardly a secret, poorly-kept or otherwise.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            @Aflo

            I’ve been using Straight Talk for nearly a year. AT&T iPhone 4. Coverage is exactly the same. I pay $48/mo for unlimited talk and text, ~2GB data “soft capped”. Equivalent AT&T contract price would be in the $120+ range with the taxes – I was paying over $80/mo for just 200MB data, 450 minutes, and no texts at all.

            And if a better deal comes along, I can jump ship at any time. TMobile has similar plans, but not quite as cheap. Only downside is that the iPhone’s Visual Voicemail doesn’t work on Straight talk. I could care less.

            I can’t imagine what advantage Darkwing thinks there is to a postpaid plan vs. prepaid. Unless he thinks the only option are those crappy “GoPhone” type pay by the minute plans.

          • 0 avatar
            afflo

            @ krhodes1:

            I don’t use the visual voicemail. I’ve been using a Google Voice account for quite some time – it allows me to received texts at work (my phone can’t go inside), and I can have my calls easily forwarded/ringing on different locations(my desk, my iPad, my Mac, etc). Even better, the voicemail offered by Google Voice has free transcriptions that are emailed and texted to me, and I can have custom messages for different groups of callers.

            Also: For a long time, those GoPhone type setups have been mainly marketed to people with bad credit. It’s the mobile phone equivalent of Buy-Here-Pay-Here dealerships or payday load and check cashing services.

            T-Mobile has three options in their Simple Plans: $50 for 500 MB, $60 for 2.5GB, $70 for Unlimited+2.5 gb Wifi Hotspot service. Data and SMS is international, and international calls are $.20/min. I frequently travel, so it’s a real boon to me… I would loved to have been able to use Google Maps while wandering around Athens this summer without having to duck into a coffeehouse or bar every time I needed WiFi.

        • 0 avatar
          danio3834

          That’s a big reason why I’ve kept my old phone, the plan is really affordable when it’s not including a payment on an expensive phone

  • avatar

    Silly, but integrated bluetooth is my dividing line. Everything likely as DD has fuel injection and electronic ignition, and I can’t remember my last pre airbag car. I’m always belted anyway.

    I’d say ABS, a worthwhile technology that has saved me at least once, but I’ve had this in my cars since 1992, so anything prior to that would be a weekend toy anyway.

    Luckily, there are a lot of BT integration options for pre BT cars.

    The items that would sway me are all on high end cars….I’ve played with adjustable suspension on M3 and AMG Benz, but that is not at a normal price point. Lane departure is pointless…I turn it off.

    I loved the Heads up display on new BMW….

  • avatar
    jrhmobile

    I go way back, to the early 1970s.

    The three things I absolutely need are safety related: retractable shoulder harnesses so I don’t eat the steering wheel if I get into an accident, headrests so I don’t get whiplash and side door beams so if some clown hits me from one side, he doesn’t drive through to the other one.

    After that, I can add most any convenience or techno-feature I want. I can add a stereo with USB input for my playlists (which I do), or a rear view mirror with a backup camera screen (which I don’t) if I really want it. I can swap in a modern powertrain — electronic fuel injection is a wonderful thing — suspension setup or luxuries like power windows or a sunroof if I want them.

    But once I’ve got the safety basics, a car is a blank canvas to me. I can take it from there …

  • avatar
    Maymar

    Rust.

    Once rust sets in, it’s old. My first car was a ’95 Chrysler Intrepid. Except for the lack of side airbags and CD player, it was equipped pretty much identically to my ’10 Civic. And really, in the spartan end of the market, you might not see much more added in a brand new car except stability control and bluetooth (I’d say the latter would be nice to have, but considering I can get away with letting calls go to voicemail and calling back later, or my wife’s in the car and can take it, it’s not a necessity). But new cars don’t have rust.

    I suppose around here, that sets “OLD” somewhere around the 8-10 year mark (when Mazdas seem to start succumbing to it).

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      Since much of the first gen Intrepids was plastic, they were even pretty good at not rusting. In my experience, it was usually some expensive mechanical failure that rendered these “obscolete”, more than likely the transmission. The engines in those years trucked on pretty well.

      • 0 avatar
        Maymar

        Mine actually had pretty severe rust on the rocker panels, just ahead of the rear wheels, but the rest was holding up well (at ten years old, and around 250k, I believe). But yes, I actually stuck with it through a transmission rebuild and several tie rod end repairs, and decided I had enough when the water pump went and took out the timing belt (something that probably would’ve been manageable if I was more handy at the time).

        • 0 avatar
          danio3834

          Yeah they definitely went in the rockers first. The timing belt was the weak link on the 3.5L, they only even seemed to get replaced when they broke. The 3.3L was the motor for true longevity.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      Can’t believe it takes Mazdas 8 years to rust in your area! Here in Ohio, I’ve seen 5 year old Mazdas with rust issues.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    Just wow ~ .

    Luddite central checking in here .

    F.I. & Disc brakes , I’ll add the passenger side mirror if necessary .

    All that other crap is just crap ~ I don’t want to drive my living room sofa thankyouverymuch .

    -Nate

    • 0 avatar
      greaseyknight

      A passenger side mirror is one luxury that I’ve lived without, and its really really nice on a pickup that has something in the bed. No more changing lanes by feel.

      Other then F.I. and disc brakes the only thing a really need is a single DIN stereo that can be easily replaced.

  • avatar
    kvndoom

    I know I’m in the minority, but give me a regular double-DIN radio that I can replace with a phone call to Crutchfield. I can make sure it has nav, bluetooth and USB, and install it myself, all for 500 bucks. And if some new whiz-bang tech comes out in a few years? Wow, I can replace just the radio to get it, and not the whole car! The number of cars with double-DIN radios is probably dwindling faster than the number of cars with a stick shift.

    Sure all these big fancy integrated radios are nice, but expect $2000 or higher repair bills when they break out of warranty. Dealer parts/service departments will eat you alive on those. Who knew the day would come that replacing a radio could cost half as much as replacing an engine?

    Or perhaps that’s just a reflection (symptom?) of cars as short-term appliances. Lease it or trade it in when the warranty’s up. Perpetual debt is cheaper than maintenance and repairs, right? …right…?

    That Scion tC is looking better by the day, let me tell you. Leather seats would be nice, but now that I spend more time driving my fiancee’s ’05 Focus ST, I’m realizing that I really don’t need leather. Beyond that, the tC has practically everything I want in a car.

    • 0 avatar
      Quentin

      Funny you should mention that. Scion is releasing a Monogram Series (I don’t understand the name at all, but whatever) that gives you the tC w/ heated leather seats in January.

    • 0 avatar
      afflo

      Funny… they aren’t heated, but leather is the one thing that I really wanted that wasn’t offered. I installed a set of leather covers from Clazzio. They’re custom fit, and most people don’t believe they’re covers.

      http://i229.photobucket.com/albums/ee208/magillaflo/EAD00520-86F1-43FC-A18D-3C193B3B480D-48555-000038DAFF392F92_zpscf3d4a42.jpg

    • 0 avatar
      azmtbkr81

      I too miss the double din head unit. I’ve been tempted to replace the anemic stereo in my 2010 Mazda 3 but the technical and aesthetic barriers make it an incredibly daunting task. It would be great if manufacturers could standardize on not only a form factor but Bluetooth, steering wheel control, and display integration too.

      Are there any manufactures left besides Scion that still use the din/double din format on new cars?

      • 0 avatar
        afflo

        People complain that they want double-din stereos that are easy to replace with aftermarket units? Scion delivers, and gets lambasted by the automags because their units aren’t pretty enough. In fact, they are delivered without anything there – you are free to have the dealer-installed unit of your choice, or just take it to a shop and install what you want.

        That said, it seems that many manufacturers are putting better setups into their stock cars, and the main market for aftermarket stuff is pounding ghetto-cruisers. 20 years ago, it would be strange to find an economy car with hundreds of watts of amplification, real two-way speakers instead of whizzer cones, etc.

      • 0 avatar
        kvndoom

        Civic Si (at least with nav)… not sure about the volume Civic.

        Some Nissans have a double DIN. Our Juke does, and the last-gen Altima shared it. Not sure if the new Alti’s have the same radio though.

        Many Volkswagens have a double-DIN opening. If VW wasn’t such a long-term gamble, I’d go for a GTI or GTD (when it shows up).

        Not sure what else is out there.

  • avatar
    OneAlpha

    I’d have to say that the 1990s were the perfect time for cars.

    The vehicles made back then were fairly powerful (but much lighter than modern cars), reliable and attractive. They existed in a perfect null zone, where they’d finally gotten over the reliability and quality problems of the 70s and 80s, but had not yet become rolling computers that might be recording your trips and actions or broadcasting your location to whoever might want to know.

    My cutoff is 2010, though. If I ever buy anything new again, I’m going through it with a pair of wire cutters before I drive it off the lot.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    Hmmm… Just one month ago my wife and I finally upgraded to smart phones. I sure do enjoy listening to my favorite internet radio station in the car, “Martini in the Morning.com”!

    We have found out just how useful these devices truly are! Oh, yeah – we can even call people on them, too. Amazing.

    We went with Android models, as I’m a bit suspicious of Apple stuff. I do have an IPod. I still spin records at home on occasion – LPs and 45s.

    As to cars, I suppose my 2012 Impala LTZ is a step behind as to tech: no touch screen nor nav, unless I want to pay OnStar. I’m not.

    Other than that. it’s worlds ahead of Wifey’s 2002 CR-V, and she’s a bit jealous, but her car is the family truck and we use it as one! The Impala is my highway cruiser that cocoons me from the cruel world outside extremely well. For the nay-sayers who complain about that – well, that’s EXACTLY why I bought it! You commute 100 miles a day in a penalty box and see how you enjoy that. You’ll be crying for something better! Besides, I’m not a young man, soon to be 63.

    Thing is, about my choice of vehicles, when I wonder and think out loud that perhaps I should have bought a Civic, Cruze, or Prius, Wifey says: “Oh, you know you wouldn’t be happy. You’re Zackman, the Impala-man!”

    …Guilty as charged. Proud of it, too.

  • avatar
    gtemnykh

    Anything OBD2 and up is basically fine. For highway driving, I like how tight and quiet new cars are, with their stiff steel unibodies and fresh rubber bushings and shocks. But for around town and off the beaten path, I actually prefer the older cars with their superior visibility, and lack of isolating effect. A bit of NVH and body quivers are welcome. I have to admit, I’ve become spoiled by steering wheel audio controls on my Civic. Getting back in the 4runner, I find myself prodding the steering wheel with my left thumb only to find nothingness.

    I’m also a phone luddite, my $20 gophone from 2007ish works just fine and doesn’t require a $90 a month bill or a contract. Therefore I have no use for bluetooth, although I think my 4runner’s fancy aftermarket touch screen DVD-playing stereo may have the capability.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      “with their stiff steel unibodies…”

      It’s the unibody + frame rails, technically (people tend to think modern cars are truly frameless, when they are merely no longer “full frame”), but point taken.

      30,000 mm/degree in the house & once you experience that kind of torsional rigidity, anything much less feels like rolling tapioca.

      My ideal balance:

      A/C with recirc mode
      Stereo
      Manual transmission
      Hydraulic clutch
      Fuel Injection
      Disc brakes all around
      Xenon headlights (at least as good as Mazda’s)
      Electronic Stability Control (which has probably saved more lives than airbags + antilock brakes combined; people don’t realize this since it helped them AVOID accidents, often without them even realizing this)

      • 0 avatar
        gtemnykh

        When I was test driving, getting out of a 2012 Impala and into a 2012 Civic was mind blowing in terms of how much stiffer and more solid the Civic felt. I actually found the Impala’s relative floppiness a bit endearing, but when it came down to spending my own dollar, I bought the Civic and its more civilized manners.

  • avatar
    LeMansteve

    I tend to draw lines whenever a significant feature improvement becomes standard on nearly all cars. One example is electronic stability control. Others above have cited fuel injection and 3-point seatbelts. Currently you have the movement towards infotainment systems with capabilities beyond even the best of 5 years ago.

    Now, would I be happy DD’ing an old BMW without DSC, a CD player or Bluetooth? Hell yes!

  • avatar
    RayH

    “Newer” is any car made 1996 or afterwards. Since I work on my own cars, on board diagnostics 2, equipped on all cars since 1996. Use $20 scanner, google your car and diagnostic code online and read repair forums that pop up. It doesn’t always give a specific answer what is malfunctioning, but it saves a lot of time getting you in the right direction for diagnosis or parts.
    As an added bonus, your friends and family think your a genius being able to get codes dealerships charge $50 or more to read, although I realize their diagnostics machines/readers cost as much as a good used car sometimes and really are necessary when dealing with airbag lights and sometimes abs lights.

    • 0 avatar
      kuponoodles

      ODB-II was required by 1996, but there were a few cars out there that used ODB-II by 1994.

      But I absolutely agree, cars have even more on board-computers, and a newer, universal diagnostic interface standard is over due.

      I.E. why can’t I just stick my thumb drive here and copy a weekly report of my car’s performance parameters like a flight sim?

  • avatar
    NoGoYo

    I’d certainly like a car with just a stereo (no entertainment system), just two airbags, but a high-tech engine.

    Direct injection has me hooked. Tons of power and great fuel economy by doing something diesels had done for decades! Sign me up!

  • avatar
    seth1065

    Air bags and ABS and heated seats does the trick for me, but I have to say I have gotten very use to blue tooth in my car but that can be added to an old car, and Steve I have a iPhone 3 with a hard case if you want it, it would have survived the outback if it landed on the back side, just get me an address .

  • avatar
    ClutchCarGo

    About the only new tech I would want but not found on my 2002 Sable or my wife’s 2005 Malibu Maxx is a backup camera. My wife would also vote for a heated driver’s seat, but other than that we’ve got plenty of airbags, ABS, traction control, etc.

  • avatar
    Jeff Weimer

    Bluetooth and USB. After getting my car with them, I found they are invaluable, especially the bluetooth speakerphone. I interviewed for my current job over that while driving from DC to Chesapeake, VA one Friday.

    I don’t want built-in nav – a Garmin is less expensive, instantly upgradeable, and portable.

    • 0 avatar
      Quentin

      Rather than Garmin, I prefer smart phones for directions 95% of the time. My iPhone 5 shows the turn by turn on the lock screen as I approach the junction and turns the music volume down while Siri speaks the directions over the vehicle speakers. The 5% of the time I prefer my TomTom is when I’m driving through country that has no signal. That is super rare, though. My favorite thing is the fact that people can send a pin drop via text message or e-mail of the location and I just have to touch the hyperlink. No entering addresses or getting sent to the wrong place because the address doesn’t match the physical location in the GPS unit. Oh yeah, no wires all over the place or that stupid suction mark on the windshield.

  • avatar
    Syke

    I’m all over the place with old vs. new:

    Automobiles: I have a very difficult time getting excited over anything new (AKA: less than three years old). Most of my auto loves are legit for vintage plates. What keeps me driving reasonably new (5-10 years old) is mileage. Having said that, I’m car hunting next year, and am really in the mood for a new car.

    Motorcycles: I REALLY have a hard time getting excited over anything new. Right now I’m riding a 19 year old Triumph with 114k on it, and a 26 year old Harley FXR. While looking for a third bike, I find I’m pretty much limiting myself to 1995-2005 bikes because newer stuff doesn’t interest me.

    Bicycles: Definitely old school, prefer steel, prefer downtube shifters although I do love 6 and 7 speed indexed. Feel the height of road cycling was in the mid 80′s where you could still get a lugged frame, derailleurs were indexed, and brakes had gone to dual pivot. Of the 16 bikes at home only two have brifters, and only one of them is an aluminum/carbon frame.

    Computers: The home network is 1-XP, 2-Vista, 1-Windows 7, 2-Windows 8. Don’t have a tablet (my Fire died), but will get getting another this winter.

    Cell phones: Have a reasonably modern Android phone, like it, but hate the lack of battery life. Also have two dog-simple, talk and text only phones, one is my second line (the bicycle shop), the other is the temporary reserve in case of loss/failure. Have absolutely no interest in an iPhone (or anything else Apple, for that matter). I don’t need to pay premium for no more functionality than what I already have.

    Pretty much anything else: If I can pick it up at the dump and refurbish it, terrific. If I have to buy new, I’ll usually go middle of the range and keep it until it drops. If its powered by an internal combustion engine (non-car or motorcycle), that engine better be Honda.

    • 0 avatar
      Preludacris

      Indexed shifters ftw. Most of us have already forgotten how awesome they are because we can’t remember a time without them. Only my very first mountain bike lacked them.

  • avatar
    morbo

    Where do you draw the automotive line between old and new

    1. Can you survive an ‘average’ accident against an ‘average’ car on the roads today? Lets say getting T-Boned by a 5 year old CR-V at 30 mph.

    Most mid-2000s and later cars will. Some 1980′s cars will (friend got T-Boned in an ’89 Accord, and not only walked away but the insurance didn’t total the Accord). Some 2000′s cars (Kia Rio5) will shred like foil.

    2. Can I be comfortable?

    That depends on the individual. I thought my ’96 T-Bird, with power seats, power mirrors, motorized moonroof, ABS, and Selectable OD on the gear selector was the height of personal luxury. Now that I’ve got an ’11 300C, I cannot imagine a car without adaptive cruise control, backup camera, satelite radio, forward and backwards ultrasonics, collision warning, bluetooth, voice activate controls, heated/cooled seats, and panaramic sunroof. I thought this was the new height of luxury. Until I saw blind spot video control and self parking.

    3. Does it still shine?

    If not, MAACO can fix that for $300.

  • avatar
    kosmo

    I want a small, sporty, practical car (BMW 128 5-door hatchback, anybody?), with the interior of my wife’s Honda Element.

    Anything beyond that is folderol, but I’m getting older, and I don’t believe I’m the target market for anything, anymore.

    At least not anything I actually WANT to buy!

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    I really don’t feel the benefit of anything new that’s been added to cars since my ’92 SHO. That car had airbags, fuel injection, “dumb” cruise control and ABS.

    The Z3 that replaced that car added stability control and traction control. Having tried them, I’m not sure of the benefits of either. The Z’s trailing arm rear suspension can surprise the driver unpleasantly if he lifts or brakes in a curve, but BMW pretty much addressed that by staggering the front and rear wheels. The big fat rear wheels keep the back end where it belongs (although I admit I haven’t seriously tested the system by doing something monumentally stupid and finding out whether it saves my bacon).

    Experimentally, I determined that, in moderate snow (which I try to avoid in that car), you will do better with the TC disabled (it has a locking diff in the rear). I also determined experimentally, that engaging the TC more than once in a blue moon creates a need for a brake job on the rear wheels.

    I will admit that, perhaps stability control makes vehicles that are otherwise borderline undriveable into reasonably tame beasts (see, SUVs). That said, I’ve never cause the stability control in my Honda Pilot to activate and, as with the Z3, the traction control actually impedes progress in snow.

    The rest of the stuff being pushed in cars today simply provides a way for car A to differentiate itself from car B. That’s not particulary harmful; but “driving aids” that allow someone to keep driving when they should stop — such as “lane departure warning” and “adaptive cruise control” — I think are an active menace. If you can’t stay in your lane because you’re too tired, or drunk or incompetent to drive, you need to get off the road, now!

    In my opinion, the safer car is not the one that allows the driver to drive incapacitated, or to mess around with his “entertainment system” reading e-mails and the like (much less texting), rather, the safer car is one which makes enough (but not too much) demands on the driver’s attention to keep him engaged in the act of operating the car and not get bored or tempted to distract himself doing something else.

  • avatar
    AllThumbs

    I’d say the line is fuzzy and depends on who is driving and what the car is used for. I have lots of cars, but my newest is 1999. My wife’s car, however, is an 05, because we need at least one very reliable car.

    So, because: a) I don’t commute to work by car and rarely take trips over 40 miles in anything but my wife’s car; b) I do most of the work on my cars (as opposed to my wife’s); and c) I don’t like spending money on my cars, I draw almost no lines for my cars other than that they start, brake, steer, and have modern shoulder belts (I recently installed them in my 70 El Camino, which had the useless two-piece old kind).

    Like some of the others, I remain unmoved by most of the technology in modern cars except airbags and ABS. I used to care about stereos, but now only listen to news or sports and usually need to hear the car more than anything else because I’ll probably hear something I need to fix. (Joke, sort of.) I plug my GPS into whatever car I’m driving and it works fine.

    Having replaced three power window motors on three vehicles in the past year, I am also newly enamored of crank windows.

    One caveat: I don’t like my teenage son driving any of the cars that don’t have airbags.

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    Don’t feel bad Steven, I got my first SMRT phone 6 months ago. It’s an HTC 1…V. So, no, not that awesome new one.
    I’m not a member of any social media site and from what I can tell, that’s what the majority of people use the data for.
    I have unlimted data and text with 600 minutes of talk time and I pay $35/mo. The phone was $100. I’m a notorious cheapskate and I was a computer science major (for a year) in college. I just don’t have a use for it and now, even having it, really the only thing I use it for is texting and playing Hill Climb Racing.

    As for cars, none of my cars have any of the “Millenial required equipment.” All the technology they are putting in cars is actually making me desire a new car less. My oldest is a 1967 and I have a 2006 and 2007. All I need is a car that starts every time I want it to and won’t fold into a swan if hit – both reason are why I don’t drive the ’67 much.

  • avatar
    ash78

    My must-have list come primarily from my ’98 Passat GLX, which was a near-lux car at the time, but compared to today is sorely “lacking”

    1. DIN stereos. These are all but gone. The ability to modularize your infotainment is a HUGE boon to consumers, but a thorn in the side of OEMs.

    2. Drive-by-cable throttle. I know the new ones are better, so I’ll reserve judgment. But the early DBW systems were vague and unresponsive.

    3. Heated seats. Even here in Alabama, sometimes I like to park outside and leather seats at 30 degrees are still really cold. I could probably live without them, though.

    4. NO Navigation. Everyone with OE navigation systems more than 2 years old complain that the iPhone or Garmin can do a better job. And that’s true. So why waste $1,500 – $3,000 having precious dash space taken up when you can change with the times AND take the device with you? In-car navigation is just like the old car phones. They’ll seem silly in a few years.

    5. I don’t give a crap about bluetooth, Pandora, etc. As long as I have a smartphone and an input, I’m good. Right now, I just crank up my iPhone volume and shove it in the sunvisor. Low-tech, but it gets me through my commute while enjoying standup comedy (classic Bill Cosby or Mike Birbiglia, among others).

    You know what I really want? A $40k E-class Mercedes with cloth seats and a 10-year bumper to bumper warranty. Basically a European taxi. A car that’s refined, but not loaded with gadgets. It drives well and last FOREVER (like the Mercs of yore). All the efforts are put into longevity and build quality, not reducing the dB to some numb level, or removing the dipstick, or increasing the ICE.

    Mercedes could call this their “legacy series” and they would be aimed at pragmatists and retirees. And it would do wonders for the brand. Profits would be slim to none, but it would keep their cars out there and boost the reputation for reliability.

  • avatar

    A car is a transportation device, not a communication device. As such, it needs all the usual “automobile” stuff, including stuff that makes it operate more efficiently, more easily (windows that you can actually see out of!) enjoyably (stuff that boosts driving dynamics), and safely (airbags + regular seat belts, or racing style seat belts) without being annoying (unpleasant beepers).

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    There are any number of ’80s and ’90s cars that I would LOVE to be able to buy new. But NEW is the operative word. I drove 10-15yo cars for ages because that was all I could afford. But 10-15yo cars have issues, and even though I very much enjoy working on cars and have the resources to do anything short of a full-on engine rebuild in my garage (TWO lifts now), I have no time to wrench on my daily drivers. The project cars absorb more than enough time and energy all by themselves.

    So now that I can afford to, I buy new cars as daily drivers. That said, I went VERY light on the options relatively speaking. My BMW has no NAV, backup sensors, or xenon lights, and my FIAT Abarth has only the heated seats/ACC package, and I would rather not have had ACC, but I insist on heated seats. Factory NAV systems baffle me – I have yet to use one that is as good as my $150 TomTom.

    So for me, must haves are pretty much the modern safety stuff (which is unavoidable anyway), ABS, Bluetooth, a decent stereo and heated seats.

  • avatar
    wstarvingteacher

    Cars: A mix of new and old suits me fine. I have a 99 olds that has electric windows (not needed or wanted). Getting a new transmission now and I went to the shop to get something. Battery disconnected so I took my key and entered. It occurred to me then that there was no key for the 2013 Nissan cube we drive. An all touch system. How does one get in that car if the battery goes dead? I put the first dent I have put in a car while parking with that one. Paying rapt attention to the backup camera and a bumper attacked me from the side. I have avoided the backup camera since then.

    My two favorite vehicles were the 87 Nissan and the 91 S10 trucks that I had. The fatal flaw was lack of room. I think around 1990 with TBI is almost perfect. Starts good, doesn’t break much, and runs a long time. I am sure I wish the Olds was about a 92 Blazer.

    Phone: I used to use a flip phone. Black not pink like that beautiful one of yours. When I retired I went to an iphone. Wore out the screen (scrapes and scratches) and got an iphone 4 to go with the wife’s iphone 5. Her’s talks to you and has a better camera. That’s great when you are traveling. I expect to upgrade to the six which is rumored to be coming out next summer. Supposed to have a bigger screen and my eyes are getting worse. Also, I am sure it will talk.

    My phone will get a little more modern but the 2013 cube will probably last as long as my drivers license. At least I do not intend to replace it with something newer.

    I guess it’s obvious that YMMV.

  • avatar
    thegamper

    I am a pretty simple guy, I like new cars, but generaly for the styling and warranty. I have a Galaxy Note II that never leaves my side. So pretty much anything the automakers have to offer on the tech side is redundant when you have a good smartphone. Nav, Sync, all the other goodies, who cares. I buy a car for the car itself. Some goodies that I do particularly like, but could do without if necessary are heated stearing wheel, keyless entry and ignition, back up camera. On the other hand, ABS, TC, stability control, 4 wheel disc brakes, leather are must haves. All the other driving aids, tech goodies I could take or leave. Just give me a nice looking, nice handling car, with a reasonable price and reasonable fuel economy (that can fit my whole family in a pinch if the minivan is not available).

  • avatar
    duffman13

    Where do I draw the line? Well, for cars you just need to look at our driveway. We have 3, average MY is 2002. This is buoyed by a 2010 Mazda 3, and pulled down by a 1992 Rodeo, with my S2000 sitting right near the average. Having a cars spanning almost 2 decades I think I have a solid idea of what I think is necessary, nice to have, or useless as far as I am concerned

    Necessary:
    At least 4 airbags. A friend of mine was in an accident where his side impact airbags kept his head from hitting the door-frame, I used to say only fronts, but that just protects me from myself. I have no problem protecting myself from other idiots too.
    ABS. The Rodeo only has rear wheel ABS, and I learned that the hard way when it was wet out one morning.

    Nice to Have:
    Real diffs. The TC does a decent job in the 3, but having an actual LSD in the S2000 makes it pretty capable in weather. The Rodeo has autolockers; it owns snow and is damn good offroad too.
    Bluetooth streaming. The 3 came with it, and I fell in love. So much so that the first thing I did upon getting the Rodeo and S2000 was to find inexpensive streaming capable stereos. I did the S2k for $140, and the Rodeo for $100 with harnesses. Super easy since both had standard single-DIN radio slots. So now all my cars have speakerphone and streaming, which is not a bad thing since any other type of phone usage in MD is illegal.
    Heated Seats. Really this is the only luxury feature I like (none of our cars have them), mainly because the seats get warm much sooner than the climate control system does for the rest of the car.
    Modern Projector Headlights. Both the S2k and the 3 have ridiculous nighttime visibility, which I credit the modern headlight optics for. I really don’t find the HIDs necessary though, the difference seems minimal.
    Rear DVD stuff. If you need ti to entertain kids so they don’t annoy the piss out of your, I’m all for it.

    Useless:
    I won’t argue about DSC, but we’ve never pushed my wife’s 3 to the point that it would really intervene, so I don’t know what its value is.
    Back up cameras and sensors – learn how big your car is.
    Lane departure, radar cruise control, etc. – Again, learn to drive.
    Nav and other multimedia – This is really covered by my Bluetooth thing. A smartphone with a good hard mount hits all of those bases anyway.

    I guess given all of that, my ideal car would be something mid-2000s with a DIN or Double-Din radio slot. That gives me the safety features I need, most of my other wants depending on the car, and minimal amounts of the superfluous things I don’t need.

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      How does the Rodeo have autolocker(s)? As I recall, there was an optional rear limited slip that would basically lock if need be, but the front is an open differential I am almost certain. Unless you are talking about a center differential? Did Rodeos even have those? I thought they were just a part time transfer case with a 50/50 lock.

  • avatar
    ravenchris

    I do not draw a line, especially concerning safety.
    Hopefully the 2015 Toyota hybrids will be equipped with a HUD.

  • avatar
    kvndoom

    Give me HVAC Knobs.

    True, analog, definitive start and stop, connected to a rotary switch or potentiometer, HVAC knobs.

    Automatic climate control is one thing I just have not enjoyed in any car thus far. Nor faux knobs that are really just spinning digital controls.

  • avatar
    olddavid

    Somewhere in the depths of my collection, I have an old “electric hand” shifting device from, I believe, a 1932 Essex. It is a pre-selector type of unit that allows the actuation of the transmission electrically. Much like the DSG of modern cars. But, as usual, I digress before I start. My DD is currently 15 years old. It’s my “new” car. Rear drive, V8 DOHC with about 320 horespower. It’s most important feature is OBDII. The rest of my “fleet” don’t even have electric fuel pumps. So, if I am going to rely on wheels with a computer, it must have the rudimentary self-diagnosis. My wife still has warranty.

    • 0 avatar
      Syke

      I’m putting my guess on a Terraplane, probably two or three years newer. Those pre-selector systems had their moment in the mid-30′s. They rose with Hudson, and died with Cord.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    Much like bigtruckseries, I like a lot of bells and whistles in a car, but I’m the kind of person that would buy a really nice car—like an A8 or an XJ, or whatever Cadillac’s upcoming flagship will be called—and take really good care of it, and keep it for at least ten years. That means that longevity and love for the car are both very important to me. But with today’s cars and their finicky, already-outdated interfaces, I’m not so sure I could keep a new car for ten years without it being the equivalent of a Flinstone-mobile.

    • 0 avatar
      WaftableTorque

      That’s been my strategy with both of my Lexus’s. I paid a lot up front, but like the pride of ownership of keeping both in mint condition. Whenever I get tempted by the latest and greatest, I just wash and wax one of them, and I fall in love again.

  • avatar
    Cabriolet

    My first car was a 1936 Plymouth with a manual choke that i did not know you had to push in after starting. Cost me $35.00 in 1952. According to my kids i have owned about 75 cars since then. I drove into NYC from Queens for about 45 years and don’t ask how much was paid for parking. Thank god it was my own company. Today i am retired and my son-in-law runs the business. My wife and i both own 2011 VW GTI’s and enjoy the hell out of them. I enjoy the various toys but my wife refuses to use the various controls on the steering wheel. I mention bluetooth and I get a blank stare. On the other hand i have a 1991 Miata special edition that has all of the toys from that era and i enjoy the simple steering wheel, dashboard and most of all the simple radio controls. The car was made for driving not using a computer. As far as a phone goes i use the latest as i am still helping out with my old company. Will not buy Apple as i can not drink the cool aid but just purchased a Galaxy 4 which does everything i need. As far as backup cameras and other toys i can still turn my head and my eyesight is still good for looking in the windshield and mirrors. Better yet i can put the top down on the Miata and have full 360 degree vision.

  • avatar
    RS

    I don’t want that stuff built in, but I do want a place where I can put my own GPS and Phone.

    Automakers are missing the boat by not featuring some well designed built-in storage/display areas, with an attempt at wire management, as part of their dash and consoles. It makes updating and fixing electronic issues easier for the owner.

    Something similar to the GPS mount that came in the Suzuki SX4…that would fit my Tom Tom 550 – or my Motorola RAZR M Smartphone…would be a good starting point.

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    Smartphones, oui I hate those things, its gotten to where if I want to talk with ANYONE they stop randomly to text, have we no manners?

    I use a paint flaking Sprint Rumor 2 with good old buttons instead of a screen that’ll get smeared up, does everything I need it to.

    To me around 1990 is when cars became “new”, when aero styling was fresh and Japan pumped out radically new but stolen from Europe technology.

    I demand good quality materials in my cars, good engineering, climate control, decent seats, 4 wheels, 4-disc brakes and thats it. No screens or phone hook up stuff, I got traffic to keep my eyes on.

  • avatar
    JMII

    Right about the early 2000s when ABS, airbags and disc brakes became “standard” is good enough for me. I currently drive an ’02 Dakota and an ’03 350Z. They both work fine and are plenty safe. The only fancy things I’d like would be blind spot monitoring, a reverse camera and adaptive cruise control. Everything else is just fluff, especially when it comes to the radio.

    I prefer my cars with the old stand-by of DIN-(or double DIN) sized stereo so I can swap it out for whatever I want/need. Currently I’m using an older Alpine radio (with BUTTONS!) that has USB input. It charges my iPhone and allows me to navigate my playlist. Along with a satellite radio input that’s all I really care about for entertainment (well along with a good amp, decent speakers & a real subwoofer to enjoy the tunes).

    Almost all of these integrated audio / mapping / control systems in “modern” cars are nothing but a huge PITA and generally outdated as soon as they are built. One of these days the OEMs will just give up and put in a USB port and cubby in the dash and be done with it, leaving you to BYOD (bring your own device) plus whatever apps you like (TomTom, Pandora, etc). Heck they too could just write app to control the HVAC and other features (backup cam, seat heaters, etc) and let the phone do all the work. Seriously I bet putting an iPad mini in-dash must be cheaper then developing a custom GUI touch screen with GPS for each model.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Right on the money JMII, innovative idea!

    • 0 avatar
      kvndoom

      “Almost all of these integrated audio / mapping / control systems in “modern” cars are nothing but a huge PITA and generally outdated as soon as they are built.”

      I still believe the greatest automotive technology anachronism OF ALL TIME was the 2008 Acura TL. With a cassette player.

  • avatar
    Pebble

    Don’t need any of this. Had a cell phone and was unimpressed by the feeling of being tied to it. For a car, I don’t need seat belts, 5mph bumpers, headrests and all this nanny state stuff. Give me a super stripped Biscayne with rubber floor mats, hand crank windows, radio delete, 6 cyl/3 on the tree.

  • avatar
    Slow_Joe_Crow

    New?, that would be something made in this century, I’m still driving a 97 Saturn with crank windows and manual door locks. Navigation is either a paper map or a cell phone. ABS and traction control are mysteries since I’ve never had them, power windows are nice and I’d really like power seats with memory since that would deal with the 11″ height difference with my wife.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      I have one of those too! You’re better off without power windows as the regulators were known to break, although I too pine for auto locks in mine; heck my 92 Cav had auto locks standard for fracks sake.

    • 0 avatar
      Pebble

      “Navigation is either a paper map or a cell phone”

      I’ll top that: navigation in my car is a paper map kept in my 1987 vintage Franklin Planner. No battery to drain, no dreaded computer blue screen of death.

  • avatar
    baconator

    Isn’t “modern” basically anything made after your 29th birthday?

  • avatar
    brenschluss

    Anything that does not aid the driver with the act of driving should be eliminated. Any toy that can cause a driver’s attention to shift from the act does not belong in a car at all. Cameras and sensors should not replace actual sight lines, and technology should only be applied to cars in places where it will be invisible from the driver’s perspective, e.g. to make operation more efficient or reliable, or where it will aid focus on what’s important while driving.

    I would be more accepting of “active safety” features if all of these prerequisites were met, as the prevailing impression would no longer be that you can watch all of your screens while you drive and it’s OK because you’ll be notified if you’re about to hit something. As things stand, active safety is addressing the wrong problem.

    This all seems self-evident to me.

    • 0 avatar
      kvndoom

      It is somewhat ironic that while cars get safer, they also add more distractions at the same pace.

      The inevitable self-driving car will therefore suit American tastes perfectly. And I will move to another country. Or planet.

      • 0 avatar
        brenschluss

        Some distractions are inevitable; I accept that being contactable in a car is sometimes necessary. Voice-activated systems are a good step towards aiding focus when faced with a need to multitask, but only when they work well.

        Stupid tinsel like “haptic touch interfaces” and over-designed UI are absolutely frivolous though.

        I do wonder where resistance to self-drivers might be seen. Is there any place on earth where more than a select few want to drive themselves around?

  • avatar
    AlfaRomasochist

    Fuel injection. Air conditioning. Done.

  • avatar
    LeBaron

    Electronic Fuel Injection. Solid state ignition. Disk brakes. Done.

    Be nice to have a radio with a line level or usb input. I don’t care if it has a CD (current car has a cassette)or even a tuner.

  • avatar
    oldyak

    I really think car buyers are being scared into all these ‘gadgets’
    Would it would be nice to not have to drive with any attention to the world around you.
    Realistically,if you like to drive, the simpler the better.
    All these gadgets are prone to failure and the cost of repair/replacement can be absurd!
    and one more tidbit……..
    every day I see a digital sign on the freeway that compares this years fatalities to last year…….
    and with all the airbags/abs/traction control/stability control/lane monitoring….so far the difference is 8 less!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • avatar
    dal20402

    Must-have electronic items (most of which are now standard on all cars):

    Electronic engine control (and transmission control if auto).
    ABS and traction control.
    Power door locks (preferably with remote unlocking).
    Power passenger-side mirror.
    Electronic tuning on radio.
    Auxiliary input for radio.
    Rear defroster.
    A/C (well, only sort of electronic).

    Convenience items that will make me reluctant to buy if they’re not there:

    Bluetooth.
    Automatic dual-zone climate control (marriage saver).
    Heated seats (ditto).
    Power driver’s seat with memory.

    Items that are luxuries I really enjoy, but not at all essential:

    Keyfob that can stay in your pocket.
    Sunroof/moonroof.
    Good-sounding sound system.
    Navigation system.

    Of course all of this would be out the window for a track toy. But I only have money and space for daily drivers for me and my wife.


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