Best Old Car Features

Online Loans

March 23, 2021

New cars have some amazing features:

  • Autonomous Driving
  • 360-Degree Camera
  • Night Vision

But what about old cars that, at one time, had ‘new car features?

OnlineLoans takes a look at some old cars that had some amazing ‘new’ car features.
Mercedes Parking Guide Rods

Just like today, old cars had to solve problems that consumers faced, parking is one of them. Today, drivers have reverse cameras, parking sensors and autonomous parking at the press of a button.

The 1991 Mercedes S-Class found a solution for tight parking in a large analogue sedan.

Housed in the left and right rear panels were two 65mm long guide rods. These would rise up from the body of the vehicle when the driver was reversing to help indicate where the rear extended to. When looking in the mirrors, the guide rods would ‘guide’ the driver moving in reverse and help avoid bumping into objects. Turn the car off or shift it forward in ‘Drive’, the guide rods whir back into their housing.

Analogue features like these bring back car nostalgia in the car world.

Mercedes Parking Guide Rods

(Not an antenna: Guide rods on an early 1990’s Mercedes C-Class. Source:

Mercedes Parking Guide Rods



Before the days of tinted windows, sun visors and even glass that tints at the press of a button, some cars had curtains.

“…high flying celebrities can avoid any unwanted photos getting out.”

These weren’t specific to one make or model, in fact, many old cars had cloth or lace curtains that could be opened and closed by passengers when the sun’s rays became too much.

Toyota Curtains

(Curtains on a 1990’s Toyota. Source:

There’s a modern take too.

Anti-paparazzi curtains. Modern high-end luxury vehicles really know their customers. Vehicles like the Rolls-Royce Phantom, Rolls-Royce Cullinan and Bentley Mulsanne are often aimed at chauffeured passengers.

These vehicles can be optioned to include rear and side curtains that completely isolate the rear passenger section. All electronically controlled, of course, high flying celebrities can avoid any unwanted photos getting out.

Anti Paparazzi Curtains

Toyota Voice Recording

“If for some reason you find yourself in a rare mid-late 1990’s Toyota Century, be careful of what you say.”

Some old cars had to deal with issues that modern cars don’t. One example is recording a voice memo or conversation. Today, this job is left to phones but that wasn’t always the case.

Toyota Century Tape Deck

(The retro luxuries in the back seat of a Toyota Century. Source:

The Toyota Century, a vehicle suited for an emperor, is a V12 or V8 (depending on model) luxury Toyota sedan. If you’re not familiar with the Century, you’re not alone as the model is primarily sold in the Japanese domestic market making it a car that Australia missed out on.

The first-generation Century had a long production run (1967 – 1997) with many facelifts and upgrades along the way. One upgrade was a rear-seat cassette tape deck which had the ability to record sound. This meant that passengers could conduct high-profile business or legal discussions while being recorded. Or, owners could covertly record passengers.

Toyota Century Tape Deck 2


If for some reason you find yourself in a rare mid-late 1990’s Toyota Century, be careful of what you say.

Granite Trim

We all know leather and woodgrain trim options, there’s also chrome and even the McLaren F1’s unique gold-plated engine bay. But how about granite finishes?

Granite Trim

The second generation of Mercedes’ luxury coupe, the CL-Class, produced from 2000 – 2006, offered granite trim. Polished stone features in a car. The exclusive ‘Designo’ trim pack came with cut-and-polished granite around A/C vents, the center console and other locations.

Granite Trim

Fortunately for drivers (and oil companies), the CL-Class could handle the extra weight that granite added. It came with various V12 engines, including a 6.0-litre twin-turbo which produced over 600 horsepower.

Foot-Controlled Headlights

Imagine being able to control your headlight high beams with your foot. Some old cars, commonly American vehicles from the 1980s and earlier, had a switch mounted to the left of the driver’s side footwell.

Stepping on the switch flashed the high beams. Although useful in some situations, the location of the switch made for easy accidental presses.

By the 1970s, Japanese vehicles were using steering-column mounted high beam switches which quickly became the preferred option. This meant less chance of accidentally flashing high beams in addition to being cheaper to assemble.

Headlight Wipers

These have become a real curiosity in modern times. Some old cars like the Mercedes-Benz E-Class, Volvo 240, Jaguar XJ-S and BMW E30 3-Series had waterjets and wiper blades on their headlights. The BMW E30 3-Series had four front headlights which meant four headlight wiper blades.

Headlight Wipers Mercedes

(Headlight wipers on a Mercedes)

These delicate components are most commonly found on European vehicles from the 1980s and 1990s.

Unless you drive through a dust storm or can’t wash your car after hardcore off-roading, headlight wipers don’t serve many purposes in Australia. But they had their uses in some colder climates.

Headlight Wipers BMW

(Complicated and delicate: BMW E30 3-Series headlight wipers. Source:

The idea was to remove dirty, slushy snow that got flicked up from a car in front, especially on busy highways. Pulling over on a highway in the dark in freezing, snowy conditions was something all motorists wanted to avoid. This is made worse by some Northern European winters and their minimal hours of daylight.

Why did they disappear?

There are still cold climates with dirty, slushy snow and long, dark winters. Firstly is the headlight design. Old cars from the 1980s and ‘90s typically featured large, vertical headlights as opposed to today’s sleek LED headlights. Furthermore, the actual headlight wipers were complicated and delicate equipment, prone to malfunction which made headlights cost so much.

Some modern cars sold in the colder climates described above feature high-powered water jets which wash away debris from headlights, but it seems motorised wipers are a thing of the past.

Does your car have old features?

Some old cars had some pretty cool and quirky features but they might not cut the mustard today. If you’re thinking about an upgrade, get a quick quote from OnlineLoans.

OnlineLoans sees more people from the start to the driver’s seat. 

More information about old cars.

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