You know there’s nothing like the feeling of a brand new car, but, and we’re sure we’re not alone here, there are a bunch of features that some older cars have that simply need to make a comeback in new models, here are our picks.
Small wheels, chunky tyres, white lettering
First up, wheels are getting too big. A big wheel means more unsprung mass, which negatively impacts handling, steering, braking and dynamics in general, plus big wheels mean rubber band thin tyres, which means the suspension has to work overtime to provide ride comfort and hit a pothole, and you risk damaging those huge and often expensive rims.
The solution is easy, smaller wheels with chunkier tyres.
Go to any track day and look at the cars that take their lap times seriously, often they’ll be wearing wheels that are a size or two smaller in diameter with tyres that have a far more substantial side wall, this is because those wheels are lighter, improving dynamics and it allows the tyres to generate more grip.
Plus, on the street, a chunkier tyre soaks up bumps more easily, therefore offering more grip on crap roads and potentially protecting the rim if it cops a big hit.
Plus, and many of you will hate this, larger wheels mean slower acceleration. Basically, the car’s engine has to work harder to rotate bigger wheels, making for a slower car with worse fuel economy.
Next up, you know what needs to make a comeback, even though they still exist, just not enough of them exist, it’s station wagons.
Everyone is bloody obsessed with SUVs, and look if you NEED an SUV because your back is rooted and you can’t deal with bending over when you’re loading and unloading kids or grandparents all day, fair enough. Or the roads you drive on are in such bad shape you need some extra ground clearance, cool, but other than that, a station wagon is simply better and we need them to make a comeback.
Compared to an SUV, a station wagon will have a lower centre of gravity so it should be superior in terms of steering, handling and performance, they’re generally lighter so that means less wear and tear on the mechanicals and consumables and often have better fuel economy. They offer arguably the same levels of practicality and generally look cooler than their SUV counterparts.
Station wagons, for the vast majority of SUV buyers, are the smarter option, yet, they’re disappearing.
Good looking engines
Ok, the next old school car trend that needs to make a comeback, even though most owners will never see it, are engines that look good without their plastic covers.
Look at that picture, it’s not the engine from some exotic supercar, it’s a 6-cylinder from the Alfa Romeo 147 GTA hatchback, a hatchback! It’s a thing of beauty.
But seriously, especially in performance cars or cars that are just more interesting than the run-of-the-mill stuff. Yes, hardly anyone will look at it but it would be nice if the engine were almost like a hidden visual treasure rather than popping the bonnet and reacting with, “oh, plastic”.
Next up, let’s bring back two tone paint, not subtle, hardly noticeable two tone paint, but proper retro two-tone paint schemes.
A different coloured roof doesn’t count either, we’re talking 60s and 70s Austin Healey or old school Toyota Land Cruiser or Ford Bronco style. Basically two complimentary but contrasting colours down the side of the car.
Yes, the Bugatti Chiron and a handful of other ultra premium cars offer the two tone effect as an option but with such bold crease lines appearing on many new cars, let’s see them accentuated with some retro colour palettes.
Genuine metal switchgear
Ok, a current trend many are becoming more and more infuriated with is touchscreens controlling everything, let’s bring back the opposite, and we don’t just mean plastic buttons, we’re talking genuine metal switchgear.
Switchgear like you’d find when piloting a World War II spitfire, imagine how satisfying it would be to switch the air conditioning on with a meaty metallic “thock”, or turning the fan speed up with solid and definite click click click tactility, like you’re turning your radio onto allied air command.
Feeling like you’re setting in motion some complex synergy of mechanics and electricity, not just smudging your fingers onto yet another screen.
A-pillar opening windows and flexing rear windows
If you were born after 1999, there’s a huge chance you have no idea what we’re talking about here but back in the day, you could ventilate some cars by swivelling the little pane of glass just near the side mirrors or, pop and lock the rear window out using nothing but the glasses flexibility as a hinge.
There are very few logical reasons why we want to see these return other than the fact that it’s cool but in a world where we rely on climate control air conditioning so much, surely these are better for the environment.
Another feature that has vanished because of safety, this time for pedestrians, it’s pop up headlights.
Coming in a wide range of styles and forms of choreography, pop up headlights first appeared back in 1935 but since then, went on to light the road ahead for automotive design icons like the Lamborghini Muira and Countach, the Toyota Celica and mr2, the Porsche 944, the Honda NSX, the Ferrari Testarossa and of course the iconic Mazda 323.
And look, sure, plenty of pedestrians were torn to shreds after being hit by a pop up headlights equipped car but you know what, maybe they should have been more careful because now, because they attempted to ride the bonnet of an innocent passing car, we now can’t have the coolest lights in the business.
Graphics, decals and retro graphics
We’re talking in the style of everything from the funky stripes and shapes as seen on the Toyota 60 Series LandCruiser, first-generation Pajero and 160 and 260 series Nissan Patrol, through to Honda’s iconic VTEC DOHC door decals and Mitsubishis Galant VR-4 listing out pretty much its entire engine and transmission specs on the side of the car.
Porsche offers a range of retro-inspired door graphics on everything from base model Boxsters to track-slaying GT and RS models and Suzuki recently announced its Heritage Edition Jimny featuring exactly what we’re talking about so why not everyone else.
The Hyundai Ionic 5 is inspired by designs from the past, why not go all out?
Want to make the current RAV4 funkier? Done.
And the Civic Type R finally looks like something you’d be happy to introduce to you parents, but it just needs that final touch to be really cool.