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Glowing Tires and Rotating Seats: The Car Features That Never Took Off

The auto industry has never faced a lack of innovation. Manufacturers are always testing and creating new features to entice consumers to buy their vehicles. Some features are good and some, not so good. But they all make for great conversation! 

This article takes a look at some of the more unique features that were actually created. Not all the features on this list made it to mass production and some had to stop production due to new safety regulations. But, they all show how hard manufacturers work to give us new automotive bling. 

“Wrist Twist” Steering Wheel

wrist twist steering wheel with woman driving
Ford Motor Company

The Wrist Twist was an experimental Ford steering wheel featuring two smaller rings mounted on a vertical yolk. The driver could use the rings together or separately. A former missile engineer designed it, but the wheel never made it to mass production.

The Dog Sack

car sacks to transport goat and dog
Popular Mechanics

While today we dress up our dogs and feed them fresh food, there was a time when they were just dogs. Riding in the car was not an option, so someone created a way to take your pet with you on the go. It would be called The Dog Sack. The ad was featured in Popular Mechanics in June 1936. You can also use it for your goat, too! But we are so glad this is not a thing anymore.

Rotating Seat

A rotating seat sounds like a great idea! The 1961 Buick Flamingo was a show car created for a General Motors Motorama event. The floating bucket seat on the passenger side allowed a full 180-degree rotation. This functionality made it easy for mom to give the kids a what for when they were getting unruly.

On-Board Record Player

chrysler highway hifi

Before cassette tapes and CDs were available, there was an onboard record player. Introduced by Chrysler in the 1950s, the record player was mounted below the dash. It was called the Highway Hi-Fi and was a feature in some cars from 1955 to 1959.

1930s In-Car Navigation 

iter avto navigation in car
London Media

Do you think a car navigation system is a new thing? Think again. The Iter Avto was the first known in-car navigation system, dating back to 1930. It featured a box that adhered to the dashboard with paper maps that you would purchase for your specific route. The box would be hooked into the car’s speedometer, allowing the map to scroll to where the driver was based on distance traveled. It even included road features like hotels. A version of this is still used today in some enduro races.

Swing-Away Steering Wheel

swing away steering wheel

No more getting “stuck” under the steering wheel when entering or exiting the car. In the 1961 Thunderbird, a feature was added that made it so easy to get into a car: the swing-away steering wheel. When the vehicle was in park, the entire steering wheel moved 18 inches to the middle of the car. The feature became quite popular and made it to other Ford models. The manufacturer had to discontinue the steering wheel due to new safety standards.

Glove Box Mini Bar

1967 cadillac eldorado brougham

Thanks to shows like Mad Men, we know cocktail hour was popular in the 1950s. Cadillac transformed that popularity into a cocktail party in a car with a mini bar in the glovebox. It was a standard feature on the 1957 Eldorado Brougham and featured decanters and glassware with magnets to keep them from sliding around. Thankfully, this idea did not take off.

Roller Safety Devices – To Sweep Pedestrians

newspaper story on the roller safety device

The intention was good, but that does not mean we cannot laugh at it. It makes you wonder how many people were lying around in the streets in the 1930s. The roller safety device was created to help save lives in the event of a pending accident. The driver would deploy the device and push the pedestrian until the truck could safely stop.

Glow-in-the-Dark Hand Signal Mittens

Before turn signals, people needed to signal which way they were going. Hence, a glow-in-the-dark hand signal mitten was created. Hand signals were the way to show direction, but what happened when it got dark out? That is why these specially treated mittens were created. They would glow in the dark and keep you safe while driving.

Ice Maker

The 1984 Toyota Van was a creation that had some strange features. But the strangest would be the combo ice machine/refrigeration area. It hooked into the A/C refrigerant lines for cooling and was set between the front seats. While we like this innovation and some modern cars have similar features, the location could be better.

Glowing Tires

glowing tires from goodyear on several cars
LIFE Magazine

In 1960, Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company decided to demonstrate a never-before-seen technology. Enter the Neothan tire. Neothan was a material no one used and was said to be faster to produce. And then there were colors, lots of colors. Red, blue, yellow – you wanted it you got it.

But wait, there is more. There was an option for those tires to glow. Small light bulbs would sit inside the rim, allowing the driver to change the color. There were even modes for blinking. Goodyear received great feedback and began to test the tires across the U.S., only to find that the tires lost traction at higher speeds. They also did not perform well in wet weather and could become overheated. The tire manufacturer explored various methods to enhance the tires’ performance, but a solution was never found. We wish there were because these are so cool.

13 Obsolete Car Features That Today’s Kids Won’t Get To Enjoy

From T-tops to pop-up headlights, we’re looking at some of the coolest—and most obsolete—car features that today’s drivers are missing out on. Buckle up and prepare for a dose of automotive nostalgia!

13 Obsolete Car Features That Today’s Kids Won’t Get To Enjoy

Unique 1950s Cars Most Have Not Seen

The 1950s were a time of car innovations, and these unique creations are worth a look. Although most never made it to production, it is clear there was some amazing creativity in auto manufacturing.

Unique 1950s Cars Most Have Not Seen

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