When you think back on what cars looked like in decades past, you probably don't remember all the features that came along with them. In hindsight, most of these ideas were innovative — but some were just plain crazy!
Built-In Record Player
Starting in 1956, Chrysler, Dodge, DeSoto and Plymouth all offered the "Highway Hi-Fi" in their vehicles. "Highway Hi-Fi" was the name for a built-in record player (which was built by CBS/Columbia) that hung beneath the radio. Although you had to use custom records that would prevent skipping and artist selections were very limited, this was still pretty high tech for the era.
Mini-Bar In Glovebox
Cadillac introduced us to the Eldorado Brougham in 1957, which was a very innovative car for the time and also included something that would put a big smile on Don Draper's face! Putting a mini-bar in the glovebox of an automobile should clue you in to the mindset of the time — these were the days before DUI/DWI laws were commonplace.
Dog Sacks were an invention proposed in a 1935 issue of "Popular Mechanics," billed as a way to avoid getting fur all over your car while still letting your dog enjoy some fresh air. Thankfully, this utterly insane product was never installed on any car.
Skulls On Cars
During the 1930s, lawmakers in Memphis toyed with the idea to place a skull and crossbones license plate on cars to signify who was a good driver and who was a driver that others should avoid. The idea was that anyone who was a habitual violator of traffic laws would be forced to get the plate installed to warn other motorists. The idea was ultimately shot down, so now if you see a skull on a car, it's probably safe to assume the driver is just a total "bad a$$."
Wrist-Twist Steering System
In 1965, Ford tried to make the driving experience better and safer by introducing the "Wrist-Twist" steering system on the Mercury Park Lane. The concept behind the "Wrist-Twist" was that the driver would get a better view of the road and the gauges, in addition to less arm fatigue from using just their wrists. The design never made it to the showroom floor and only existed on a few models of the Park Lane.
Automatic seatbelts were introduced during the 1970s, with Toyota becoming the first manufacturer to make them standard on their 1981 Cressida. The seat belts were attached to the door, meaning that you needed to slide under the belt when entering the car and lock them in place when the door was completely shut. The belts didn't last long though, seeing as most people got frustrated and simply ripped them out.
This car design is somewhat of a mystery since no one really knows if the car was produced or not. But in 1899, Uriah Smith wanted to help ease the transition from horse-drawn carriages to motor cars by having a fake horse head attached to the front of the car. The design of the Horsey Horseless was patented and at least one test model had to be out there, but thankfully this strange idea never made it to mass production.
Rim Blow Steering Wheel
Ford (and a few other manufacturers) thought that it would be a good idea to replace the horn-button in the middle of the steering wheel with a squeezable rim on the wheel that would function as the horn. While this doesn't sound like a radical idea, it did have one major defect: the rim would shrink,causing the horn to blow constantly. The product was quickly discontinued (because who wants to be constantly honked at?!).
Because getting in and out of your car can be a real struggle for people, Chevy thought it would be good to make the seats in their 1974 Laguna S3 rotate. It's hard to actually believe that this seat didn't take off, seeing as it made the car easier to get in and out of. Plus, an added bonus of the swivel seats was that your vinyl wouldn't wear out as fast!
In 1973, we were introduced to the Reliant Robin, which is easily the most misleading name possible for this car. The Robin only had three wheels, which may seem like a cool design, but it caused one huge problem — the car would usually flip over while making turns! Despite its flaws, the Robin is the second most popular fiberglass car in history.
This idea is something that would be beneficial for everyone (except the driver of the car at fault). Whenever a driver would hit another car (by accident or not), these little disks would fall out of the driver's bumper that contained their license number. This would make it easier to identify who was at fault during a hit-and-run accident. Although it was never successfully implemented, it doesn't sound like a totally terrible idea.
Goodyear introduced illuminated tires back in 1961. These tires were pretty slick-looking and would help light up the road at night, but Goodyear decided to never produce them. In hindsight, mixing glass and rubber together doesn't sound like a very smart idea.
Lightning Rods Shifter
If you enjoy driving a manual transmission, then you would have loved the 1984 Oldsmobile Hurst. The Hurst featured a unique lever system called "lightning rods shifter" that was pretty complicated for the causal drivers. However, if you knew how to work them properly, you could really throw down some power.