Over the years the automobile industry has brought us a bevy of beauties when it comes to accessories for our rides. Some, like cruise control, have been a godsend; others, not so much. Here’s our list of the strangest factory accessories:
Built-in Minibar (shown above) – Back in 1957 you could get your Cadillac Eldorado Brougham outfitted with a luxurious magnetized minibar in the glovebox, along with a complete woman’s grooming compact and matching leather notebook, a cigarette case, a comb and a perfume atomizer.
Vacuum-Assisted Ashtray – Nobody wants a dirty ashtray, especially owners of 1956-1960 Chevrolets! A small suction tube sucked up all your smoking debris and deposited it into a hidden glass canister for later emptying.
Speed Alert – available in a variety of GM models, it consisted of a second needle within the speedometer. Set it to your do-not-exceed speed, and the minute you went beyond, it screamed at you in an intense nerve-shattering buzz.
Removable AM Radio – dubbed the “Sportable” and available in 1958 Pontiacs and Oldsmobiles, this radio operated on its own batteries, had its own antenna, and could be slid out from the dash to be taken anywhere.
In-Dash Record Player – yes, Chrysler really did make this in 1956; it was called the Highway Hi-Fi, used a heavier record to prevent skipping, and played at 16-2/3 rpm to extend play time to 45 minutes.
Swiveling Seats – spin around and scold the children, or just swivel to elegantly ease out of your car; available on a variety of vehicles including the 1961 Buick Electra 225 and the 1973-76 Chevelle Laguna and Monte Carlo.
Space Saver Spare Tire – an attempt to save trunk space, this smaller-than-a-donut spare featured a can of compressed air to inflate the tire once it’s mounted to the vehicle. Problem was, the air can leaked and was usually empty by the time you needed it.
On-board Espresso Machine – fill the thermos-looking device in your house, then plug it into the dock in the center armrest of your 2012 Fiat 500L for steaming hot caffeine, because boiling water sitting between the driver and passenger is always a good idea (said no one ever).
Portable Shower – offered by Honda for its first-generation CR-V, this little overhead water dispenser consisted of a handheld shower head and a plastic water jug. It drew its power from an auxiliary socket in the rear cargo area and gave you a way to hose off before hitting the road.
Swing-Away Steering Wheel – available in certain early ‘60s Ford Thunderbird’s, the entire steering column would swing towards the center console to give ladies a dignified way to get into and out of the car without messing up their skirts.