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Over time and technology, many essential characteristics of the car have disappeared. Some are simply no longer needed, such as cigarette lighters, manual parking brakes and various safety devices. Most aren’t missing, like manual window cranks or some of the weird attempts at “high-tech” functionality from the 1980s. A few of them may still have some appeal, but most are just outdated and it is better to leave them in the past.

Yet some features of classic cars might still work today. Some are just for looks and add something special to the car, while others have real practical use and may even be better than some of today’s modern features. These are ten classic car features that might be due for a comeback and might even surpass some modern car features by being fun, practical and adding something special to the car.

ten Tail fins

It’s amazing with so many “retro” looks over the years that we’ve yet to see the return of tail fins. A standard from the 1950s and early 1960s, they looked striking, with the pointed fins adding a sparkle to a car’s design.

Not only were they cool to see, but they could also provide great aerodynamics and turn heads at classic car meets and shows. With an affinity for retro rides, you’d think it would be fun to bring this back because while they offer little practical use, tail fins have always made a car stand out from the pack.

9 gear shifters closed

As much as people try to fight it, the manual transmission is slowly dying. This means that the classic shifter will go with it. But we can’t deny how cool they look in muscle and sporty cars, even brand new ones.

These didn’t just look cool; they were also practical. It actually helped to know which slot to put the right gear in, and it was more exciting to make those changes on a fast ride. Some gated shifters were gorgeous with a special shift knob, and if the manual transmission is going to fade, at least bring it back for one last sigh of pleasure before the automatic takes over.

8 Integrated car phones

Long before cell phones were commonplace, a phone inside the car was considered a huge deal. They could be bulky, sure, with cords and requiring a lot of setup but still special. Today, they may seem unnecessary, but there might be some logic in bringing them back.

This would avoid the problems of a phone being forgotten or killed, as modern technology could help a built-in phone with GPS and other keys. It can also help in an emergency since the car phone has a better connection to call for help. A modern take on a car phone can still be a great addition today.

Related: 5 Car Features We’ll Sorely Miss (5 We Can’t Stand)

seven Spare tire outside

This was back when car trunks weren’t considered a common thing and so dozens of cars from the 1920s through the 1950s had a large space for the spare tire on the outside. They were often on the back but could also be on the sides and integrated into the design of the car.

It’s actually quite handy as it saves the hassle of ripping half the boot off to get the spare tire out and even serves as an extra layer of protection in the event of a crash. It also added something to the retro feel of a car, so bringing it back would not only lead to fun styling, but also practicality for some owners.

6 Retractable headlights

They still “appear” from time to time, but this style of headlight is officially dead. It’s a shame because they are quite amazing when working properly. The car’s design looks cooler without the headlights as a distraction, allowing for a sleek exterior.

Pop-ups themselves can look great, especially on a modern-looking car like the Mazda RX-7. Those who own them love them, and it’s another feature worthy of a comeback to show how pop-up headlights can improve a car’s appearance.

5 Hood ornaments

As the name suggests, the hood ornament has never been used for anything on a car. It was just something to put in the beginning, usually the company logo and symbol. But in their time, they could look absolutely beautiful and make the car even more luxurious and special than it was. Who hasn’t loved a leaping Jaguar or some of the more elaborate ones?

Hood ornaments can range from artwork to bold objects such as skulls and set a car apart. It’s a shame they’re pretty much ignored now because they could be even better today, helping a car stand out from the pack.

Related: 10 Classic Car Features No One Could Live Without (That Are Now Useless)

4 Suicide/butterfly doors

While some high-end sports cars may still have unique doors, there was a time when gullwing or suicide doors were the norm. The suicide doors were intriguing for a high-end limousine or luxury car, opening in the opposite direction for better movement, which set it apart from less upscale models.

The Gullwing doors were more visually impressive though, making the car look like it was ready to take off into the air, and some cars like the DeLorean were automatically cooled by them. They seem to have fallen by the wayside though, which is a shame as a different door style can light up a car just fine.

3 Under the license plate gas caps

This is another quirky item that might be fun to bring back once in a while. Sure, it’s a bit more difficult for manufacturers to run the gas tank hose past the trunk like this, but it was fun raising or lowering the license plate to refuel .

The obvious reasons it was removed were the risk of tank damage in a crash, but something about popping the plate to refuel is so off that if it could be improved, this would be a fun dynamic for some cars.

Related: 8 Extinct 1980s Car Features Drivers Are Happy To Forget


1 Front seats

This can be disavowed today on grounds of safety and the simple logistics of modern cars, which is a shame because there was something incredibly fun about the front seat of an automobile being essentially a couch. It was much roomier, allowing three people to be accommodated in the front, and still made the cars more comfortable as well.

A smaller person could even stretch a little while the driver manipulates the front seat. It’s clear why they disappeared, but a “bench” as a front seat was something special and might be worth trying again.

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