Hammer Time: Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Steven Lang
by Steven Lang

Cars have lost a lot since the 1990’s. How many of you remember ashtrays, crank windows, base AM/FM radios and motorized seatbelts? It used to be that little headlight wipers were a sure sign of an upscale ride along with glossy wood trim and a CD changer in the trunk. It was a Yuppie heaven back then.

You wanted good music? Gotta get at least a cassette player and why not throw in some flimsy cupholders that are just big enough for a twelve ounce Coke?

A lot has gone away since the days of Cadillac Allantes and Chrysler Imperials. But much more remains with us. Today’s cars have a ton of 1990’s luxuries as standard equipment: Cruise, ABS, Traction Control, CD Players, Keyless Entry and Anti-theft Alarm Systems. Even the once lauded ‘Power Package’ of power windows, door locks, and mirrors is now standard in all but the cheapest of models (and the Lotus Elise).

So today’s questions for the TTAC faithful are, “What Should Stay?” and “What Should Go?” in these next ten years. Should nav systems be integrated into our cell phones? Will CD’s offer as poor of a return for the audiophile as they already do at the bank? That one’s an easy answer. But what about CVT’s vs. conventional automatics? Eight cylinders vs. sixes? Push buttons vs. key fobs vs.???

The future isn’t now. So give your best guess.

Steven Lang
Steven Lang

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  • Zeus01 Zeus01 on Sep 17, 2011

    Ditch: - idiot lights in place of temp guages and oil-pressure guages. My Fit, excellent as it is, has no temp guage. And most cars in the last several decades have no oil-pressure guage. - CD players. With MP3 who needs them? - Factory nav systems. They're over-priced ten-fold and obsolete the following model redesign. Portable Garmins on the other hand are cheap, effective and can be replaced with the latest and greatest at will. - Spoilers--- especially on econo boxes and especially if they block the view to the rear. And don't even get me started on the after-market ones I've seen pasted onto the hood of some boy racer's Civic at the base of the windshield. - High door sills, especially on sports cars. The claustrophobic look sucks. The Nissan 370Z looks like a pig compared to it's original 240Z, Miata or 1st-gen Rx7 for this very reason. - Rear seats that are too small and cramped to accommodate anyone larger than a cabbage patch doll. Why even bother? - Digital speedometers. Gawd, they look so...dated. As opposed to analogue speedos, which are more classic. - Water-based "enviro-friendly" paint. Worst idea ever. Unlike the older more durable paints, these are easily scratched by such insignificant items as plastic zippers on the clothing of folks making their way through the parking lot or by soft plastic bristles on a snow brush or self-serve car wash brush. The enviro-nazis of course don't give a rat's derriere because their ultimate goal is to force us out of our cars and onto bicycles. That way they don't have to move out of their parents' basements and get jobs to keep up with the Joneses. - "Assembly components" that require an entire (expensive) assembly be replaced should one part of it fail. Hello Chrysler, with your fuel filter housed inside the fuel pump which is located inside the fuel tank!) - "Factory-sealed" ball joints which require no lubrication. Well, that's not entirely true. They DO require greasing--- it's just that many manufacturers prefer to no longer install grease nipples on them. They'd rather the parts fail sooner so that you'll have to buy new ones--- from them! - Engine covers and inaccessible service bay items, the likes of which require special tools to do such mundane tasks as adding transmission oil or changing spark plugs. Might as well just slap a label on top of the engine that reads "No user-serviceable parts inside." I avoid buying these vehicles. - Automatic transmissions. Well, at least 50% of them. Making manual transmissions as rare as they're becoming is a recipe for breeding a whole new generation of "coma drivers" who couldn't be bothered to check their mirrors if their miserable lives depended on it. Oh wait--- their miserable lives (and those of others sharing the road with them) DO depend on it... Keep: -Cruise control. The best defense against speed traps since the radar detector. - Power windows, door locks, mirrors, etc. - Air-conditioning. - MP3 player. - Bluetooth. - Outside-air-temp guage. - Manual transmissions. In fact, make them have at least six gears, the fifth of which is an overdrive and the sixth of which is a very tall overdive for highway cruising. Add: - a second 12V power outlet. Or even a third and 4th for rear-seat passengers, who likely would appreciate having the option of charging their cell phones since the ones in front are already commandeered by you for your cell and GPS. - A manual "erase" button for info stored on your car's ECU. Yeah, I know--- those who drive like an @$$hole deserve to get caught. But having you car rat you out for going 5k over the speed limit when a red-light runner T-bones you-- and giving your insurance company a lame excuse to deny your claim and the cops to issue a ticket--- seems way too nanny-state for any country outside communist China or draconian Saudi Arabia. - security cameras that look out all windows and even upward at a 60-degree angle from both front side windows. These cameras must have the capability to automatically upload video footage to any computer you program it to, even several computers. This helps police to identify that car jacker, or to see who was really at fault in that fender bender. Or, in the event of you finding yourself on the receiving end of a rogue cop abusing his authority, it would offer an opportunity to get justice when the department goes into CYA mode at your expense. Nanny-state devices may suck, but sometimes a big-brother device can be beneficial for keeping those few bad apples with too much authority for their flawed character from preying on the innocent and vulnerable.

  • Mazder3 Mazder3 on Sep 17, 2011

    Ideas to come: Car to car intercoms. If you're following some jamoke doing 10 under and they're weaving from yellow to white, I'd love to hit an intercom button and ask them if they're okay. Mandatory Google cars for people who own handicapped placards or have been convicted of DWI or who own a cell phone and need to use it while driving. Ideas for now: car to car missiles, driver's side spent uranium machine gun, a decent PA system. WAKE UP AND DRIVE PEOPLE!!! (Sorry about the rant, I became a commuter this week.)

  • Robert Schwartz Robert Schwartz on Sep 18, 2011

    I hate leather seats. Hot in Summer and cold in winter. Heating and cooling them is not a cheap or eay solution. The real solution is to bring back cloth upholstery. And not in black. Cloth does not have the heat capacity to discomfort you. I also hate the lack of visibility in contemporary cars.

  • Duffman13 Duffman13 on Sep 19, 2011

    Stay: -Turbos -V8s -Manual transmissions -More limited slip differentials, helical please. -Power windows -Power locks -keyless entry. My last car was all dinged up around the driver key slot by the previous owner. -Auto climate control (I only touch 1 knob and the car does the rest. how is that bad?) -TCS, ESP, DSC, LMNOP, etc (as long as it's defeatable and in levels) -Sidemarker or mirror-based turn signals -Steering wheel mounted controls -Bluetooth. -Elecric Power Steering. Hydraulic just has so much more feeling. -USB Connectivity -Heated seats. always like a cold weather package on my car, even someplace with mild winters. -HIDs. It's not the same driving without them at night Go: -Fancy keys/pushbutton starts -CUV. Get the minivan you know you really need. -non-truck based SUV. I want this thing to go off-road -factory nav -touch screen in lieu of buttons (with buttons is ok) -Radar based cruise/backup -Lane departure warning -Cars with giant rear-ends/no rear visibility -Massively heavy cars. A civic should not weigh 3000lbs -20 inch rims on a grocery getter/suburban soccer mom cruiser from the factory. do you have any idea how much those tire replacements will cost? Give me Now!!: -More hatches -Wagons -RWD without buying a pony car or German, maybe in sedan or wagon form? -Beep when the low fule light comes on. I had an old A4 that did this, never looked down and wondered "How long have I been running on fumes for?" -Integrate smartphones to car MMI for music/nav/etc via USB. I love my wife's new Mazda 3 and streaming the audio and GPS lady through the stereo, but full integration with a cradle/cable and enhancing the respective antennae would be amazing -Stripper models with a la carte options. -Gauges. I want my voltmeter and coolant temp gauges back. I could think of some more I'd like (oil temp, oil pressure, AF, boost) but then the interior just becomes too busy or you have a racer-boy pillar or gauge pod somewhere.