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Car Features That Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time

Water balloon bumpers, built in record players, and wrist-twist steering wheels---these are just a few of many features built into cars in the past that seemed like a good idea at the time but today make you wonder what some automakers were thinking.


Odd Car Features that Continue Today

When it comes to new car features, those that are designed to make driving safer and mitigate the risk of injury from an accident are undeniably the best thing that has happened to car design in recent years. Here, we are talking about driver assist features, surrounding airbags systems, and newly revised crash testing.

Related article: The Gory Truth About Seat Belts from Consumer Reports and a Paramedic

However, when features are more about comfort or convenience, they can often take an odd turn in automotive history that leaves many car owners scratching their heads over whether a particular feature was a good idea…or more about just offering consumers something different.

Reinventing the Steering Wheel

Case in point: Earlier, many of us have questioned the wisdom of Tesla engineers and Elon Musk with the re-invention of the steering wheel after the Model S came out with “…a flat-bottomed, rectangular yoke reminiscent of what pilots use to steer an airplane.”

The consensus even among a number of Tesla fans is that they agree that the yoke is not for everyone, is not superior to the traditional steering wheel, and should be offered as an option for those looking for the latest cool factor feature.

Related article: Latest Review of Tesla Yoke Steering May Change Your Mind About Elon

However, as it turns out Elon and his engineers are in good company of a sort when you take a look back in history (and not very far back either) at some strange car features that were tried and then eventually dropped as shown in a recent post on the Rhetty for History YouTube channel episode that reveals car features many of us may not have known ever existed.

Here is the video in its entirety that offers an interesting look at our car culture and perhaps also serves as a good reminder the next time an automotive engineer is told by marketing what the customer wants in their cars.

Strangest Car Features Ever Used!

And finally…

If I had to pick a modern car feature we have today that is questionable (aside from FSD) it is the trend toward building even larger dash screens every year with infotainment functions built-in that can be dangerously distracting while driving
That said, if you have a pet peeve over some car features or even come across an odd feature that definitely borders on the strange, tell us about it in the comments section below.

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Timothy Boyer is a Torque News automotive reporter based in Cincinnati. Experienced with early car restorations, he regularly restores older vehicles with engine modifications for improved performance. Follow Tim on Twitter at @TimBoyerWrites for daily new and used vehicle news.

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