Ashtrays, cigarette lighters, CD players... things you no longer see in modern vehicles

play article
Subscribers can listen to this article

Most modern vehicles no longer have components like ashtrays and cigarette lighters.

Some older vehicles also came from the factory with mobile phones.

Whereas manual transmissions used to be popular in the past, automatic ones are currently in demand.

For more motoring stories, visit Wheels24.

Vehicles have gone through a vast transitional period over the last century. From the first car being produced in the late 1800s and evolving to the age of American muscle in the 60s. But since the turn of the millennium, vehicles are no longer what they used to be.

From smaller yet powerful engines to futuristic designs, the way a vehicle is put together shows how much motor mechanics and technology have constantly improved.

Once upon a time, most vehicles never had airbags fitted; as the years went on, it became a mandatory requirement for automakers to fall in line with stricter safety standards, along with other features such as electronic brake-distribution and even traction control.

How times have changed

Another area that has seen improvement over the years is the driver's cockpit. Most modern vehicles are built to make interior ergonomics easier for the driver behind the wheel, with functionality generally at the touch of a button. In the early '80s, most premium models came with their own in-car phone - mainly commonly situated in the centre console - which was seen as revolutionary at the time.

The same can also be said about components like daytime running lights or DRLs. It once only graced upper-echelon models, but now even cars on the lower end of the spectrum have some of these features.

Can you think of any other older features you know of that can be added to this list? Please email us, or share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Man driving whilst using built-in car telephone 19
Man driving whilst using built-in car telephone 1990.

For nostalgic petrolheads, the uniqueness of activating an automatic choke, monitoring the oil pressure gauge or even popping a cassette tape into the radio is something that cannot be replaced. These days, everything is done digitally, with motorists having access to features like infotainment touchscreens, and Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity playing your favourite music from your phone, or even having your text messages read aloud.

One of the most significant changes has come under the bonnet as well, with just about every modern vehicle is now powered by electronic fuel injected engines. The Toyota Tazz was one of the last offerings still to use the older carburettor units until overall production was ceased in July 2006.

READ: Classic cars | Why Nissan's Judo could have floored the mini-SUV market in the 1980s

Besides being less sophisticated, older vehicles are considerably cheaper and can continue to build value as the years pass when held in good condition.

Vehicles have changed monumentally over the last few decades, with specific components no longer used in modern ones. We take a look at some of them.


Non-smokers will be the happiest about this not being a factory item in most newer vehicles anymore. All older models had them, and if they weren't cleaned out on a regular basis, it looked and smelt rather unpleasant.

Its space on the console is now mainly used by the placement of USB ports. Alternatively, some automakers offer a smokers package which is a removable cup to house any ash or cigarette butts.

Ashtryay full of cigarette butts
Ashtryay full of cigarette butts

Cigarette lighter

If you didn't have a lighter or matches on your person to light a smoke, all you had to do was go to the car, press in the manual cigarette lighter and wait a few seconds. 

Where the cigarette lighter once used to be, it has now been replaced by 12V mobile phone charging points, which serves as being much more essential because everyone's lives are based on their smartphones.

Automatic Cigarette Ignition Lighter
Automatic Cigarette Ignition Lighter

Radio with CD player

Remember the time when people (or even yourself) used to drive around with a bunch of Musica-bought albums in the cubby-hole and had to pop in CDs manually?

Thankfully, those times are well and truly gone because the emergence of Android Auto and Apple CarPlay functionality allows the driver to skip songs and monitor volume all from the steering wheel. All newer models still come with a radio, though many no longer feature slots for CDs.

Car radio with CD player slot
Car radio with CD player slot

Keys with no buttons

Previously drivers used to lock and unlock their vehicles manually from the door, now they can do this metres away with the touch of a button from newly-designed remote control keys or fobs.

Keys no longer follow the generic hard plastic and stainless steel shape - even crazier is that some vehicles don't have a physical key needed to start. Renault, for example, has a card-shaped key which is inserted below the fascia while others make use of a transponder that must be in the vehicle or present on the driver to start the car.

Generic car key with no remote
Generic car key with no remote
We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Lockdown For
Brought to you by
Voting Booth
Who do you feel was at fault for Verstappen and Hamilton's Italian GP crash?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
25% - 1206 votes
42% - 2002 votes
They were both at fault
33% - 1573 votes