The automobile as we know it today is a marvel of modern engineering. It is a machine refined and improved through decades of research. But along the way, there have been mistakes--what-the-hell moments where carmakers learned the hard way to develop in the opposite direction.
On April Fool's Day, we present a short collection of motoring blunders that managed to reach the automotive factory floor. Ladies and gentlemen, our list of five foolish car features:
1. Phonograph record player. Back in the late ‘50s, Chrysler introduced phonograph LP record players in its automobiles. It must have made sense to try at that time, but we all know only a format as stable as the cassette or digital music can operate in a motoring environment.
2. Fax machine. The movie Back To The Future Part II mistakenly showed a future where faxes permeated our lives. We now know that’s not true, but in the mid-'90s, the automotive industry didn’t know that. So as cellular phones became common, some carmakers went the extra step and installed fax machines on high-end models. We know Volvo did it for sure.
3. Horn-connected key fob. A rather modern feature, which has the horn beeping when you're locking and unlocking the vehicle. We believe this was an early trait of some of the IMV models in Toyota’s lineup. It’s a feature the neighbors aren’t fond of, especially when you get home late at night.
4. Microsoft SYNC. The American software maker should stick to computers. It’s one thing to put up with Windows on a PC, and another to figure out a complex operating system while driving. It's just too dangerous and time-consuming.
5. Door-mounted seatbelts. Some Americans are so lazy they didn’t want to bother reaching out for the seatbelt. Carmakers tried to make it easier for them, and this was the awkward result: The seatbelt was mounted on the doorframe, and passengers barely lifted a finger to fasten it. We don't have reliable data on whether this seatbelt design actually saved lives. Thankfully, it never gained popularity.