The good, the bad and the ugly: Car trends that made their mark on society

Posted by: Cal on 20/01/2014

Category: General

Ever since the very first mass-produced automobiles were introduced to the public in the late 1800s, car manufacturers and designers have been tirelessly working to improve, update and reinvent the humble vehicle. While some of these efforts have proven groundbreaking, many others are better left forgotten. Take a walk down memory lane to check out some forgettable, regrettable and downright inspirational design choices.
Imitation race cars

As the sport of car racing took off around the world, so too did wannabe speedsters modifying their cars to look like racing varieties. Think "boy racer' and you'll have an idea of what these cars look like. They usually sit as close to the ground as the law allows (and occasionally flout the rules altogether and lower their suspension to the point of scraping over speedbumps) with shiny mag wheels spinning on their car tyres and huge, noisy mufflers.

These modifications often occur on factory-stock hatchbacks, with owners adding custom side skirts, wings, wheel arches, glow bars, fake hood scoops and vents, LED lighting and everything else you can possibly think of to make their cars stand out. Unfortunately, these very same modifications often make drivers of these souped-up cars targets for police, so any street racing is quickly stamped out.

Car grills

Once a design of necessity, these days oversized car grills are simply a matter of vanity.

Original muscle cars such as the 1970 Ford Mustang needed extra airflow in order to keep engines cool. Modern cooling systems, however, leave these airy openings redundant on today's cars. Despite this, the "bigmouth" look has come to represent luxury, performance and power, so many designers still use huge chrome faux grills to soup up cars that don't need them.

Anti-lock braking systems

Anti-lock braking systems, also known as ABS, are among the greatest safety designs of the past few decades. The system is designed to keep wheels from skidding when you slow down suddenly, preventing a loss of traction on the roads. Not only does this allow you to stop faster under pressure, but it means wheels don't lock up, so you can continue to steer while you stop.

Many modern cars come equipped with ABS as standard, allowing drivers greater freedom to stop under pressure, aiming to to prevent accidents caused by skidding and losing control of the vehicle.

Satellite navigation systems

Whether built-in or purchased as an additional accessory, in-car GPS systems have revolutionised the way we drive. Instead of fumbling around with maps and written instructions, we can now simply plug in our desired destination at the start of a trip and let the system audibly tell us how to get there.

Not only does this make driving safer, as drivers are no longer distracted by trying to read directions, but it also makes things much easier. GPS systems are compact and contain endless maps and route options, and they are easy to use for even the most technophobic drivers.

In-car entertainment systems

Gone are the days of the humble radio that can only pick up a few static-riddled radio stations. These days, many new cars come standard with top of the line stereo systems with high-powered speakers. You can play CDs and MP3s through your car, changing between songs, stations and devices at the push of a button conveniently located on your steering wheel.

Another addition for those with passengers who bore easily is in-car DVD players. These are particularly useful for children who frequently travel on long car-trips, as it can keep them entertained without any interaction with the driver.

One feature that will never go out of style is a properly maintained vehicle. Make sure you adhere to a tyre maintenance schedule so you and your loved ones stay safe on the roads.