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Lifestyles over 50

CARS—an American Icon, a Way of Life, and a Dream

Jul 12, 2023 11:27AM ● By Judi and Dave Painter
Americans have had a love affair with cars since they started rolling off the assembly line in 1913. Car manufacturers have come and gone over the years, but we still love to talk about the cars and car features of our youth. Whether or not we could afford these cars (either then or now), our heads are still turned by these old cars. Let’s celebrate the 110th anniversary of Henry Ford’s Highland Park assembly line with some automotive memories!
So, what is it about these old cars that we loved so much?
Listed below are features we miss (for better or worse).
  • real chrome bumpers and real chrome trim
  • wing windows
  • 2 different KEYS for every car
  • locking glove box (Does anyone really put gloves in the glove box?)
  • pushbutton AM radio
  • radio antenna (If you were fancy—powered antenna)
  • cassette player
  • bare metal dashboard (OK, not so good!)
  • manual transmission (Yes, they still exist, but baffle many parking attendants and service writers.)
  • “Four on the Floor”
  • “Three on the Tree”
  • high beam dimmer switch on the floor (always fun with a clutch)
  • pushbutton automatic transmission
  • cigarette lighter and ash tray
  • wood grain paneling on station wagons (for that matter, station wagons!)
  • gas caps located under the license plate
  • hood ornaments
  • manual (crank-up) windows
  • front bench seats (sans seat belts; not good!)
  • rain gutters
  • full-size spare tire
  • pop-up head lights
  • uncluttered engine bay (you could see and work on your own engine!)
  • white wall tires
  • tail fins
  • manual door locks
  • manual steering
  • vinyl or velour interiors
  • sealed-beam headlights
  • vinyl roofs
  • padded landau roofs
Whatever you loved (or didn’t love) about these old cars, we might all agree that the cars of our youth had more character than today’s cars. Hey, nostalgia doesn’t have to be diplomatic!
What features do you miss?