New Drivers Will Never Know These Old Car Quirks | Help & Advice - Mr Tyre
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New Drivers Will Never Know These Old Car Quirks

When we talk about the cars we have owned in the past, it can be hard to look back without wearing rose-tinted spectacles. They may have given us many thousands of miles of driving pleasure, but what were the oddities of those cars that a fresh-faced licensee of today will never have to endure? That’s what we’re here to find out, as we take a look at the motoring quirks of yesteryear.

Mini Cooper 1300 old dashboard

Manual choke

What does an original Mini Cooper, a Lada and a Porsche 924 all have in common? The answer is: they all had a manual choke. This little device richened the fuel mixture to make a cold start much easier. Pull a little lever, turn the key and close the choke when the engine is warm. Simple, right?
Wrong. Many people drove around with the choke on accidentally, resulting in a lot of carbon buildup in the engine and poor miles per gallon figure. Thank goodness for the automatic versions on modern cars.

Cassettes players

There was an unwritten rule of the road that if your car had a cassette player, you also had to stow a shoebox of cassettes in the passenger footwell. Where else were you going to store your Now That’s What I Call Music! collection and your NME freebies?

cassette in car tape player

Stereo units with fascias

Sticking with the theme of audio: today, if your car comes with an all-singing, all-dancing infotainment system, you can expect FM, AM, DAB, Sat-Nav and more. Not too long ago, the best you could do was a fancy JVC or Blaupunkt stereo unit that looked rather suspect in the plastic-fantastic dash of your Renault Clio.

These ugly things lit-up like Blackpool Pleasure Beach and told everyone who rode in your front seat that you’d gotten an extra-big Halfords voucher for Christmas that year. Thankfully, we’ll never have to hide the removable fascia from thieves ever again, thanks, in part, to the rise of modern infotainment systems.

The diesel start-up light

The diesel light is meant to resemble a glow plug. That’s because diesel engines require glow plugs to heat up the combustion chambers before starting the engine. This is in place of petrol engine spark plugs which fire repeatedly while the engine is running. It used to take ages for a diesel light to turn off. Today, it takes about 2 seconds.

Wind down windows

We forget how much easier things are now that you can control both front windows (and sometimes the rear) from the comfort of the driver’s seat. If you still have wind down windows, you’ll understand the pain of someone coming to your passenger side door expecting the window to roll down effortlessly, only for you to lay across the passenger seat like a beached whale to wind it down.

Innocenti Mini Cooper 1300 unique interior

Car headlights with wipers

Enjoying a German or Scandinavian car manufactured between 1960 and the 2000s often meant enjoying the luxury of headlight wipers. Why was this so important? Simply because no other cars had them and when you got the headlights extra-suddy it looked like your car was having a little cry. How cute.

vintage car headlight

Extendable aerials for better reception

Once upon a time a car’s aerial looked exactly the same as any other radio antenna. It was an unremarkable thing, until someone decided to invent the retractable, motorised antenna. On start-up this interesting invention would rise up from the bonnet like excalibur from the lake, to tell everyone else on the estate that you’d made it in life.

Today, there are hundreds of ways to hide the radio antenna in plain sight. Many of them are hidden in the windscreen, others are part of the car’s aesthetic, like BMW’s ‘shark fin’ and the retractable antenna is now somewhat a museum piece.

car extendable aerial

What bygone oddities do you remember from your first car? Make sure to let us know!


Mr Tyre – the tyre and autocentre specialists – provide assistance with vehicle faults. Our professional and friendly staff will have you back on the road in no time. To avoid faults and repairs altogether, we offer regular servicing for your vehicle from an experienced technician. We have over 48 years of experience and remember all the motoring quirks listed above, but we also know modern cars inside and out, too. So, for the best auto services in Coventry, Derby, Leicester, Lincoln, Mansfield, Newcastle, Nottingham, Worksop and more, contact us at Mr Tyre today.

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