5 Old-School Innovations We Desperately Want Back In Modern Cars

The automotive sector is a fast-paced constantly evolving environment. As a result, brilliant designs are often pushed to one side by modern technological advancements. Here are five old-school innovations we'd like to see return...
5 Old-School Innovations We Desperately Want Back In Modern Cars

1. Yellow headlights

5 Old-School Innovations We Desperately Want Back In Modern Cars

There are few things in life cooler than a classic French car with yellow headlights. Legend has it that the yellow lights were introduced in France in 1936 so that allied forces could distinguish between ‘friendly’ French citizens and white-lit Nazi invaders. The truth behind the story is up for debate, but we do know that the French retained their quirky coloured headlights until 1993, when they were banned by EU legislation.

The French loved their yellow lights for a number of reasons. They allegedly worked better in the fog, created less glare for oncoming motorists and gave citizens a sense of national pride - all of this was subjective of course. With the European ban on these lights, the only place we now get to see them is on the racetrack, where they serve a very useful purpose. Slower GT cars tend to run the coloured lenses so that they can see the faster prototypes approaching from behind in low light conditions. And just like the citizens of France, many racers swear that the tinted lights create less of a glare in adverse weather conditions.

#GT4 yellow @racelitedesigns lenses.

A photo posted by paulgeudon (@paulgeudon) on

So they serve a semi-functional purpose, and they also have a cool retro look. Not surprising then that tinted lenses are slowly finding their way back onto road cars. But like all of the trends on this list, they only work on the right car. Porsches suit them down to the ground, and we love the effect that they’ve had on Paul Geudon’s (owner of Mulholland Racer) dark grey Porsche GT4 - truly beautiful.

2. Steel wheels (aka 'steelies')

Photo Credit: Lars Oosterveen Flickr
Photo Credit: Lars Oosterveen Flickr

We reckon that steel wheels are properly cool. There is something paired back and raw about seeing a car sitting on a nice set of steelies. Something that says you only care about the driving experience; aesthetics be damned.

In our opinion no car wears steelies as well as the iconic Peugeot 106 Rallye S1. They just seem to fit with the function over form ethos of the little French hatchback. Light for the period and highly durable, they worked perfectly. With the advent of cheap and lightweight alloys we’ve seen steel wheels assigned to cheap taxi cabs and base-level econoboxes, which is a real shame.

5 Old-School Innovations We Desperately Want Back In Modern Cars

Luckily for us they haven’t completely died out thanks to the Japanese Subaru BRZ RA. The RA was designed as a base platform for tuners and race-teams so that they didn’t have to strip apart a fully specced road car. It features a full roll cage with door bars, harnesses, a front-mounted oil cooler, ducting for the front brakes and yep, you guessed it, steelies!

Subaru fitted the budget wheels on the assumption that most tuners will remove them, but we think that they look great.

3. Shooting Brakes

5 Old-School Innovations We Desperately Want Back In Modern Cars

Some of the coolest cars of all time have been shooting brakes. The 1965 Aston Martin DB5 SB, 1972 Volvo 1800ES and the 2012 Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo concept were all stunningly beautiful looking machines. Initially conceived back in the early 20th century, the Shooting Brake design allowed the aristocracy to travel in style, while still having room for their hounds and weapons.

Granted, not many people require a car for such purposes anymore, but there is something incredibly cool about a useable performance car. I mean, we all love mid-engined supercars, but part of the fun is being able to take your friends along for the ride. Being able to travel to a ski-resort four up with all your gear is just another benefit.

5 Old-School Innovations We Desperately Want Back In Modern Cars

The other thing that makes them so damn cool is the fact that they divide opinion, which is one of the many reasons why manufactures are so scared to produce them. When the BMW M Coupe was released in 1998 a great percentage of the motoring press didn’t know what to make of it. Nicknamed the ‘clown shoe’ it sold in poor numbers. It’s only been in the last 10 years that the M Coupe has received the recognition it deserves.

In recent years only Ferrari has fully embraced the idea of a usable shooting brake, giving us the incredible Ferrari FF. But we think other manufacturers need to be braver and follow Ferrari’s lead. For example, Aston Martin is looking to corner a new sector of the market with the ugly and unnecessary DBX crossover…Just make a usable shooting brake already!

4. Fabric Seats

5 Old-School Innovations We Desperately Want Back In Modern Cars

Almost all modern-day mid-range cars come with leather seats as standard. Now, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but not having a choice can be irritating, because let’s face it, leather has its downsides. If you live in a warm climate, leather can get unbearably hot, and in cold weather you have to deal with freezing seats for the first half-hour of your journey.

Leather is also a very poor material for performance cars. Have you ever seen a full-on racing seat made entirely from cow hide? Probably not, because leather is heavy, non-breathable and slippery. A happy medium would be leather seats with Alcantara inserts, which can be found on cars such as the Subaru BRZ SE Lux. But we still prefer the simplicity of full cloth.

5 Old-School Innovations We Desperately Want Back In Modern Cars

Leather also means no awesome designs. Granted, this is a completely subjective matter of taste, but I absolutely love the classic tartan on Golf GTI seats. A design which can also be seen on SharkWerks’ truly insane [Outlaw Porsche 911 997 GT2]. (http://sharkwerks.com/porsche/997-turbo-gt2/562-2008-sharkwerks-outlaw-997-gt2-evoms-champion-and-magnus-walker.html).

5. Manual Gearbox

5 Old-School Innovations We Desperately Want Back In Modern Cars

When Porsche revealed that its most involving driver’s car - the GT3 RS - wasn’t going to be available with a stick, the automotive community went into collective mourning. I mean, if Porsche couldn’t offer a manual gearbox, what hope was there for the future of shifting yourself? But it can be all too easy to get angry at supercar manufacturers. At the end of the day, they’re just reacting to market demands. For example, only one per cent of buyers ordered the previous Audi R8 V10 Plus with a manual gearbox, thus this year’s model only comes with flappy paddles - makes sense to us.

But it’s important to remember that some manufacturers still cater for the one per cent, and for that they should be celebrated. Both Ford and Chevrolet offer its high performance muscle cars, the Camaro ZL1 and Mustang GT350 with good old fashioned gear sticks, and both companies have expressed its intentions to retain the option of a manual in future models. Thank god for ‘Murica.

5 Old-School Innovations We Desperately Want Back In Modern Cars

But Porsche has also shown that it’s not completely given up on that third pedal just yet. The GT4 is arguably Porsche’s most popular car of 2015, and the demand for its last analogue 911, the GT3 RS 4.0, is absolutely through the roof, with examples swapping hands for up to £300,000.

However, it really comes down to us, the car enthusiast, to ensure that the manual gearbox survives. So if you do find yourself purchasing a new car, make sure that you go for the manual without hesitation; the future of performance cars is counting on you!

What trends would you like to see come back from the dead?


Dat muscle guy (Sam Stone)(Camaro Squad)(Die augen leader)(E

Yeah I don’t like leather seats much they are extremely uncomfortable to me and there is another innovation that needs to come back which is retractable headlights or pop ups also ‘MURICA FTW they know what we need and they kept the manual even in the Corvette

01/14/2016 - 19:53 |
0 | 0

Pop Ups are cool, but on today’s cars it will be horrible for me, and anti aerodynamic :/

01/14/2016 - 19:54 |
4 | 4

Yes Yellows headlights please!! Soo much better with low light conditions like rain or fog

01/14/2016 - 19:57 |
2 | 0

Wow, seeing the 2 first points French proud feelings intensifies

01/14/2016 - 20:04 |
18 | 2

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

On our drive down to Le Mans (we’re British) for the 24H, we love to play a little game. - First one to point-out a car with yellow headlights wins!

Love the old French cars…so much character. Can’t wait for LM2016!

01/15/2016 - 12:49 |
0 | 0

here in germany ore any country with winter you see a loooott of steel wheels on cars even on new mercs ore bmws

01/14/2016 - 20:25 |
2 | 0

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

True, but in the US people use all season tires, and in the UK there is barely any snow, so people think that they don’t need winter tires.

01/14/2016 - 21:19 |
2 | 0

I’m personally not fussed by the demise of the manual transmission. The rise of electric cars means that in the near future most new cars will have direct drive transmissions, meaning that they’re neither manuals nor automatics but just have a single ratio gearbox that feeds power straight to the wheels.
Pop-up lights though…

01/14/2016 - 20:28 |
2 | 2

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

That has absolutely nothing to do with them disappearing from combustion engines that need various drive speeds. I wouldn’t be fussed about it if it weren’t for the fact that the transmissions are left guessing at how you want to drive at any given moment. More cars (not just sports and luxury cars) need switches for different drive modes so the trans knows putting your foot halfway down doesn’t necessarily mean you want to scream to 6000rpm, or that putting your foot down means you DO want 6000rpm and not to only unlock the torque converter.

01/15/2016 - 03:09 |
0 | 0
Bence Kurucsai

Why don’t manufactures give us these options? 1 thing I don’t understand also They would make a Shooting Brake style car but they would also have the other models soo someone would buy the for example BMW 3 series F30 Sedan and someone would have the Shooting brake. I feel like the future of car manufacturing is for safety only. I miss the old days. I mean let’s say Shelby did a 7 litre V8 Cobra 427 with no driving aida no power steering and now. I adore the GT350 and GT350R but I miss the madness. Look at current BMW 3 series all gizmos I would love to see a lightweight version after all look at the E30 light 3 pedals for the most part and a perfect car for me 3 pedals no driving aids no power steering in mine that’s what I search in a car soo I know If I nail a corner perfect than it’s my driving not the computers and if I screw up something than It’s my fault. After all Companies should put these options in for the hard core car guys like us. I appreciate the gizmos but it’s not the first thing I look in a car.

01/14/2016 - 20:40 |
0 | 0
Bring a Caterham To MARS

BBC= Bring Back Clarkson
BBC+B= BBBBC= Bring Back Bi-Color

01/14/2016 - 20:48 |
0 | 0
Kyle H 1

Pop-up headlights NEED to exist again!

01/14/2016 - 21:12 |
2 | 0

I like electric antenna. Comes out if you turn on radio also oldschool.

01/14/2016 - 21:16 |
20 | 0

They are cool, but they are also a pain in the arse, as you have to clean them every few weeks, and when it is freezing outside they might freeze, and than you are worried if it is broken or not.

01/14/2016 - 21:21 |
0 | 0

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