Home Cars 25 ’80s Car Features Making A Comeback Today

25 ’80s Car Features Making A Comeback Today

Cameron Eittreim December 16, 2020

The 1980s were a unique time for the automotive industry as the technology was advancing. As with most revolutions in technology and industry, most of these improvements were valiant attempts at change. But there were also a lot of mistakes that came around this period as well. Nevertheless, some of these features were ahead of their time and are making a comeback in the current automotive landscape.

We took a look at some of these classic car features that are making a comeback in 2020. Check out these quirky ’80s features that the cars of the decade had via The Things below.

Mercedes S Class Car Phone
via: Mercedes Benz

25: Car Phones

The original car phones were reserved for the high-dollar clients who could afford them. This was a revolution for the automotive industry as a whole because mobile phones were just in their infancy. The car phone was a particularly special part of the automotive industry because it allowed drivers to experience a sense of freedom. No longer did you have to rush home to check your voicemail.

Internal Car Phone
via: Car and Driver

The initial car phones were clunky devices. After the rise of cellphones, built-in car phones all but disappeared. However, with the advent of infotainment centers in new vehicles, the Bluetooth-powered car phone has become a thing once again and is making a comeback.

1982 Maxima
via: Car Domain

24: Talking Interiors

The 1982 Datsun-by-Nissan 810 Maxima was the first talking car ever sold in the U.S. market. The vehicle would tell you things like “Key is in the ignition,” “lights are on,” and “fuel level is low.”. This was a marvel of technology at the time and the Maxima quickly became one of the best-selling cars on the market.

1982 Maxima
via: Car domain

The Chrysler Lebaron would follow shortly after in addition to a slew of other vehicles from the ’80s. As cars became more modern the voice-activated cockpit became a novelty of the past. However, with the advent of hands-free driving, the talking cockpit has made a comeback, evident by Siri and the Apple Car system.

Chrysler Lebaron
via: Chrysler

23: Smart Suspension

Driver comfort is always on the radar of automakers. The more comfortable the car is, the more time the driver will spend behind the wheel. Today cars can adapt to all kinds of driving conditions and adjust the suspension, but in the ’80s this was in its infancy. Early smart suspension systems would flush fluid out of the shocks depending on the road condition. This was problematic and cost a lot to repair.

Oldsmobile Cutlass
via: Classic Cars

As technology has advanced, smart suspensions have begun to make a comeback in the industry, from the most expensive exotic cars to your run-of-the-mill compact. The fact that your suspension can sense driving conditions is a feature that has been perfected over decades.

RX-7 Quadrasteer
via: WCW

22: Four-Wheel Steering

Of all the novelties that have been bestowed to the automotive industry, four-wheel steering is probably the most unique. On a sports car, it makes sense that you’d want to have a steering setup like this, but at the time the technology was new. It just wasn’t catching on with consumers as the automakers had hoped for, most likely because the U.S market is predominantly taken up by commuters.

GMC Sierra
via: Car Domain

The interesting thing about four-wheel steering is that it is starting to make a comeback in the automotive market. The technology also made an appearance in the 2000s on the Silverado HD under the “Quadrasteer” banner.

Manual Transmission
via: Edmunds

21: Clutchless Manual

Cars have become so advanced that manual transmission is quickly becoming a thing of the past. But the clutchless manual is a notable feature that has appeared for decades only to later get dropped. Early clutchless manuals were very problematic and would cost a lot to fix. As technology has advanced, they are making a comeback on some of the most powerful cars on the road.

Manual Transmission
via: Edmunds

The clutchless manual is a notable addition to the current sports car market as the manual transmission has all but disappeared. Nonetheless, you can’t go wrong with the amount of driving pleasure that a standard manual transmission brings to a true enthusiast.

Early honda Navigation
via: Edmunds

20: Computerized Navigator

Believe it or not, driving takes a fair amount of skill and planning if you are going on a road trip. Who wants to be stuck trying to read a giant map when you are driving across the country? This is why early navigation systems were an ideal, welcomed choice for drivers. While early navigation systems were carbon copies of what you’d find in the military, this is not suitable for the average driver.

Eighties Navigation
via: Edmunds

Navigation systems disappeared for a while and have only recently made a comeback to the automotive industry. Today’s navigation systems are powered off of the same technology that you can find on your smartphone or tablet.

Nissan Leopard Dash
via: Nissan

19: Techno-Colored Dashboards

If you were a kid in the ’80s, you probably saw the rise of digital dashboards. These Christmas tree-colored dashboards were coveted by anyone who wanted the next generation of cars. Sadly, those dashboards were also expensive to fix and even worse to diagnose a problem on. Another issue with early adaptions of the dashboard was that some vital readings ended up being false.

Corvette Digital Dash
via: GM

Nowadays, most dashboards have moved back to a digital format, albeit with a smoother font and an LCD screen. This technology has come so far in the last couple of decades and replicates something that was once popular with its recent comeback.

Toyota Smart Key
via: Toyota

18: Push-Button Starter

The way the automotive industry has advanced has been quite an amazing journey. Early adaptions of the push-button starter were frugal at best. The technology just hadn’t come far enough to make it work. Because cars were carbureted and had to be cranked, this technology just didn’t work well enough. Nevertheless, automakers continued to advance and evolve as time went on.

Chevy Cruze Autostart
via: Chevy

Nowadays push-button starting is the only way to go, and very seldom do you still find a key needed. The modern push-button starters that you’ll find are much more advanced than the first generation. This technology is now the norm and now you don’t have to worry about a lost pair of keys or a broken ignition.

Lamborghini Urus
via: Car Domain

17: Paddle shifters

The earliest incarnations of the paddle shifter were novelties at best but had a lot to offer. Interestingly enough, the paddle shifters have become a part of the automotive industry that most drivers flock to. The paddle shifters are a neat feature to have in an early-model sports car because it is a different type of driving solution. As technology has advanced, today, paddle shifters are almost like driving in a video game.

via: Ford

Precision shifting and technology have made driving while using a paddle shifter an addictive thing to do. Most modern sports cars come with paddle shifting capabilities built right into the vehicle alongside the standard transmission.

Eighties electric car
via: Car Domain

16: Electric cars

Automotive technology was evolving rapidly in the eighties, and the thought of an electric-powered car was quite intriguing. The problem was that battery technology was still in its infancy at this point and a full-fledged electric car would have been too costly to mass-produce. Another problem was that the potential electric cars were either downright ugly or impractical for most consumers.

Eighties electric car
via: Car Domain

The early adoptions of electric cars didn’t have very much range and most of these cars were concepts or very low production models. Nowadays the electric cars are everywhere with companies like Tesla bringing these models to the mainstream.

Blind spot mirror
via: Edmunds

15: Blind-Spot Monitors

Blind-spot monitors have become the norm in most modern vehicles, but there was a time when this technology was in its infancy. The earliest blind spot monitoring systems were simplistic devices that would beep when the vehicle was too close to something. This was an easy way for the driver to park without all of the fuss that comes with looking out your blind spot.

via: Edmunds

The current blind-spot monitoring systems have managed to change the way that we drive. These new technologies have continued to make driving a much safer experience, and the blind spot is one of the most crucial parts of driving a car.

Ventilated seating
via: Autoweek

14: Ventilated seats

Early leather and cloth seating in the 1980s were notorious for either being too hot or too cold. Now there are all kinds of unique features such as air-conditioned seating and ventilated seating for those hot summer days. The adaption of ventilated seating has made the hot leather seats a much more comfortable aspect.

Interior ventilated seating
via: Autoweek

For those that live in a hot or cold climate, these seats are a lifesaver, especially if you spend a lot of time in your vehicle. The ventilated seating that we find in vehicles these days have changed the way that we drive for the better.

infotainement center
via: Edmunds

13: Infotainment

In the ’80s, you had to have a conversion van or a limousine to get any kind of an infotainment center. The VCR that you could have built into your car would make camping trips great and enjoyable during this period. The infotainment center never caught on with regular consumers until the turn of the millennium. Now you can get an infotainment center in just about every car on the market.

via: Edmunds

For family trips, the infotainment center can make things a lot more enjoyable. No longer do you have to count slug bugs or license plates, because you can watch a movie or stream your favorite podcasts for the whole family to enjoy.

Cadillac 8-6-4
via: GM

12: Cylinder Deactivation

With gas prices skyrocketing during the 1980s, the need for cylinder deactivation was a real one. Initially seen on the Cadillac and a few other choice cars, this was a unique technology that would cut off cylinders to the car. Initially, technology was very hard to get right and reliability was questionable at best.

Cadillac 8-6-4
via: Cadillac

However, cylinder deactivation has been renewed in the last couple of decades. Cylinder deactivation these days has brought about the most fuel-efficient pickup trucks on the road. You’ll find cylinder deactivation technology is most larger displacement vehicles on the market today.

via: DMC

11: Gullwing Doors

The most notable feature of eighties cars were the gullwing doors introduced on the Delorean. These were thought to be the “future” and for the most part, you couldn’t miss them. Unfortunately, the automotive design changed for quite some time but the gullwing doors are making a comeback these days, most notably on the Tesla Model X and a few other supercars such as the Ford GT.

DMC DeLorean - Sports car
via: DMC

While gullwing doors were a notable feature of the era that defined movies like “Back To The Future,” the resurgence is a cool feature for many modern drivers. Gullwing doors are perhaps one of the most unique features of ’80es car design that has lasted to this day.

via: Lamborghini

10: Extreme Spoilers

Most notable on the Lamborghini Countach and a few other supercars from this decade were the extreme spoilers you’d find hanging off of the rear. Sports cars have always managed to invoke the emotions of their drivers, and the spoilers of the ’80s were a notable hallmark of the era. Extreme spoilers are starting to make a resurgence in new models such as the Honda Civic SI.

Lamborghini Countach - Lamborghini
via: Classic Car

Because of the rise in crossover vehicles, you only see spoilers on certain vehicles, from the Civic to the newest crop of supercars coming out of Germany. The oversized spoilers of the eighties are making a comeback like never before.

2019 Ford Raptor via Bing
via Bing

9: Baja Trucks

Remember the Nissan hardbody truck or the Toyota 4×4 of the eighties? The truck that Marty Mcfly drooled over? Well, these trucks have made comeback in the current era. Take the Ford Raptor, for instance, a truck that is more at home in the desert than on the way to the grocery store. Chevy has also jumped into the mix with the Silverado Trail Boss, and Nissan is offering the Frontier Desert Runner.

2016 Ford F-150 - Ford
via: Ford

Baja trucks were a notable part of the eighties that were fun to drive and cheap to maintain. The fact that these trucks are making a comeback is a sure sign of the times. If you longed for one of these trucks before, there has never been a better time to get a modern incarnation.

via: Barnfinds
via: Barnfinds

8: Offroad Crossovers

Although crossover vehicles are the bread and butter of the automotive industry today, there was a time when these vehicles were originally introduced. One of the first crossovers was the AMC Eagle, an offroad-inspired wagon. With its high ride height and aggressive look, the Eagle was an interesting concept and caught on with consumers. It wasn’t until decades later that these crossovers have become the norm.

AMC Eagle
via: AMC

Just another interesting part of the automotive industry that managed to catch on once again with a new generation of consumers, the Eagle was a defining part of a new generation of vehicles that were on the horizon.

2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon
via: Chrysler

7: Extreme Horsepower

The eighties birthed a resurgence in high horsepower cars that pushed the boundaries of performance. Take the Buick GNX for example, as well as the Lamborghini Countach and several other special-edition cars. During the nineties, cars with extreme horsepower ratings had died off once again, but they are now making another resurgence.

2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon
via: Chrysler

The Dodge Demon is one notable example, as well as the Ford Mustang GT500. These cars are the next generation of powerful performance vehicles. You can’t go wrong with a fun-to-drive car that has a boatload of performance.

300 SRT
via: Chrysler

6: Turbocharging

A lot of the cars that came out of the ’80s were turbocharged, especially cheaper low-end models. These turbocharged cars were notoriously fun to drive and cheap to own. Automakers are starting to move back to this formula to get the most performance out of four-cylinder engines. Chrysler was one of the first domestic automakers to embrace lightweight turbocharged cars.

Dodge Challenger
via: Chrysler

With the benefits of a turbocharger, you can get more power and performance out of a cheap, lightweight engine. The turbocharged engines of today are a welcome addition to the automotive landscape and the future of cars.

Pontiac Fiero - Sports car
via: GM

5: Targa Tops

Another interesting feature of sports cars in the ’80s was Targa tops. Whether it was the Corvette or the Fiero, these were an interesting part of the automotive industry. The Targa top gives you the joy of a convertible without affecting the overall ride quality or stability of the sports car.

National Corvette Museum - Car
via: GM

Targa tops have been making a comeback on some of the most notable exotic sports cars that are hitting the road right now. This is an influential part of the automotive industry that will continue to please enthusiasts. Another interesting thing about Targa tops is that it is one of the most notable parts of the original Corvette models that featured them.

via: Mazda

4: Rotary Engines

The Rotary engine is one of the most ubiquitous parts of the automotive industry. The unique design is highly regarded in the performance community and was a pioneering feature of the Mazda brand early on. Rotary engines have managed to carve a niche in the automotive industry that still rings true to this day. The unparalleled performance and durability of the engine have survived in one form or another for decades.

Mazda RX-7 - Mazda Motor Corporation
via: Mazda

Rotary engines are just one aspect of the eighties that has managed to make a comeback. But when you think about engine technology and recent advances, you can’t go wrong with a rotary engine and the performance it brings.

via: Hemmings
via: Hemmings

3: Retro Redesigns

A lot of automakers have decided to dip into the well of the past, and part of this has been done with retro revisions. Whether it is the special edition Mustang 5.0 or the Bullitt model, there are plenty of retro-themed cars on the road. The retro-themed vehicles have been making waves for the last couple of decades. Buyers flock to these cars because they remind drivers of a better time in their lives.

Ford Flex Via Motor Trend
via Motor Trend

Retro redesigns are getting a bit redundant, but as long as the automakers keep these fresh they should maintain footing. Automotive design has evolved a lot, but an iconic design is something that will stay fresh for quite a long time.

Lincoln navigator
via: Ford

2: Open Air

Take a look at the Jeep Wrangler and the new Ford Bronco and you’ll see something in common. The same open-air design that was rampant during the eighties when it came to compact SUV models. The Jeep Wrangler has maintained an iconic style while the Ford Bronco has been completely revised. These compact SUV models are only going to spur even more offerings as the future goes on.

Nissan Murano
via: Nissan

In the 1980s we had the Suzuki Samurai, the Geo Tracker, and more. These SUVs were the pinnacle of style and offered a unique driving machine for a new generation. The open-air SUV is an excellent choice for anyone who wants to relive the eighties.

Honda Accord Crosstour
via: Honda

1: The Station Wagon

For a long period, the station wagon had lost its footing as the family car. But after the minivan had lost its dominance and crossovers made their mark, automakers are doubling back to the station wagon. Whether you want a performance model or an off-road model there are plenty of unique station wagons to choose from. The station wagon might not be the dominant force it once was, but there is still a resurgence for these vehicles.

2020 Buick Regal TourX - 2018 Buick Regal Sportback
via: GM

Time will tell how the station wagon will manage to fare this time around, but this is one eighties theme that has been making serious inroads. The station wagon was always an instrumental part of the automotive industry in one form or another.

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