Car features we now take for granted

Running a classic car hire company can feel, at times, like living in an automotive parallel universe. While the rest of the world is ogling parking cameras and connectivity, at Great Escape Cars we’re amazed to discover that nowadays windows can be lowered by switches.

On one of my rare encounters with modern motoring it got me thinking about the modern car features that we take for granted. Here goes…

1. Central Locking

Believe it or not there was a time when dad – because mum wasn’t trusted to drive back then – had to reach back and lock or unlock the doors whenever back seat passengers got in or out. The impact of central locking on the reduction in shoulder injuries has, sadly, gone unrecorded. 

2. In-car entertainment

Forget ipod connections and built in satnav, remarkably there was a time within living history when a simple mw/fm radio was a luxury extra. Opt for the humble Popular Plus and your in-car entertainment was restricted to looking at the blank space where a radio should be. ‘Extra storage space’ hailed the brochure. ‘Ho hum’ responded a despondent world.

3. Climate control 

Today’s modern motorist can brave climatic extremes safe and secure in their insulated air conditioned dream. For drivers of yesteryear it was not so simple. Until the late 90s air conditioning was restricted to the luxurious few, Major Cowley’s world rather than that of mere Bodie and Doyle. The upside was that we all drove around with the windows down, waving and chatting to our fellow bipeds. Not so now, but we are more comfortable. 

4. Front wheel drive 

Believe it or not there was a time when rear wheel drive wasn’t for sporty BMW drivers, it was for everyone. It was just How Things Were. Because, for most drivers, RWD is a scary, slippy-slidey roundabout experience, manufacturers invented FWD, which had the added benefit of being cheaper to manufacture. 4WD? Reserved for farmers. Driving may be safer now but it’s a little bit less fun. Unless you drive a BMW, which of course you wouldn’t.

5. Power Steering

Every modern car has power assisted steering. That’s a relatively new invention. As cars have got heavier and more complicated drivers have needed electricity to help them turn the wheel. That isn’t to say cars of the 60s and 70s were lightweights – try parking a Mk2 Jaguar to see what luxury motoring meant 1963. Power steering is A Good Thing, but it’s no longer a Luxury Thing

6. Airbags

The world of car safety moves swiftly and nowadays airbags are just there. Olden day car makers were also bothered about safety, the trouble is that for them it meant ‘impact resistant’ padded rolls on dash tops, which were as effective as they sound. Cars are safer now, but perhaps that safety net encourages us to drive less safely. 

7. Seat belts