The 1990s were a time of great pride for most car enthusiasts. There was so much happening on the car scene. Car culture was ever-present and widely embraced by those of all ages. Young and old alike would flock to parking lot meets and tracks, showcasing their newest ride, and the enhancements they added to make them even more superior both aesthetically, and performance-wise. This was the era of super-cool cars that frankly, we still wish they made!
It was during this time that the Corrado and the Sirocco saw their prime, Geo still existed, and there was no “#savethestick,” because everyone was already driving a 5 (not 6) speed. Everyone popped their doors open and showcased their cars to friends and onlookers.
While everyone definitely felt proud and “cool” back then, the photos from this fun time tell a different tale now! Fast forward to 2019, it’s easy to look back at the cars from the 1990s and scrunch up our faces at the crazy things that used to be impressive. Manufacturers have come a long way in enhancing our driving experience and designing the sleekest and sophisticated vehicles. Base models back in the '90s certainly looked the part, whereas now, purchasing a base or fully loaded model doesn’t impact the overall look of the car nearly as much as it used to.
It’s amazing to see what the car interiors looked like back then, as opposed to what we are accustomed to seeing now. The simplicity of the ’90s has been completely consumed by an increased desire for enhanced technology, and superior detail in all aesthetic designs of our current-day cars.
20 Beaded Seat Covers
Upon taking a closer look at this 1990 Mercury Grand Marquis, I think we’d all agree that the seats look far more comfortable on their own then they would be with these beaded seat covers! We aren’t sure how these were a hit – it looks like the world’s most uncomfortable ride!
These seat covers look like a form of punishment – there’s no way this would feel comfortable at all! Perhaps the idea was to keep the driver so uncomfortable that they would stay awake since this car only pushed 150 horsepower with a top speed of 173kph. Clearly, the power enough was not enough to keep anyone focused on the road!
19 No Side Air Bags
Undeniably an amazing car both inside and out, we see one thing missing from this 1990 VW Golf GTI MK1…the side airbags! Take a look at those gorgeous seats and fun-interior! If only the safety features were aligned with this ride! Now considered one of the many mandatory safety features in current-day car manufacturing, the side airbags were definitely missing from the cars of the ’90s.
This naturally aspirated, sporty, peppy ride may entice you to drive fast and take the long way home, so in hindsight, it could have benefited from some modern day technology and safety features!
18 Boring, Basic Gauges
In all fairness, the 1990 Grand Am wasn’t exactly the most sought-after vehicle, so we can’t expect much from its interior design! No matter how you dice it, this car was basic in every way. Considered to be a high-selling car for sheer affordability reasons, the Grand Am left much to be desired when it came to styling and power.
Lacking luxury and sport features, this compact car was relied upon to get you from point A to point B, and really didn’t do much more than that, so the boring, basic gauges are aligned with the drive and totally make sense. Thankfully, car interiors have come a long way since then – this one is a snore-fest!
17 Steering Wheel Covers
Nothing screams 1990 louder than steering wheel covers! Why, oh why, was this ever a thing? Now considered to be an eye-sore, this then-popular trend was a feature highlight in everyone’s car – well….everyone who was “cool”, that is! It’s fun to be able to look back and chuckle at this weird little accessory that seemingly had no functionality.
Aside from maybe protecting your hands from getting burnt if this Honda Civic DX was parked in the sun for too long, it doesn’t really do much for the steering wheel, or for your image. We’re glad this trend got left behind, and we hope it doesn’t make a return!
16 Blue Fabric Interior
Believe it or not, this 1990 Pontiac Bonneville was a big deal when it was in its prime! Ownership of this blue ride would set you back $24,000 for a base model, which was really expensive at that time. The blue interior was one of its most defining and sought-after features, and this car was in high demand! On the off chance that you’re still interested in spending your days amidst these soft blue seats, you can pick one of these up today for less than $1,200.
Nada Guides suggests that this can be as high as $1,700 if you find a fully loaded Bonneville that includes upgrades such as power windows.
15 Pedal Upgrades
Everyone felt like a race car driver with the installation of aftermarket pedals in their 1990’s ride! The driver of this 1990 Nissan Primera was no exception. The pedals in this picture took this basic car to the next level and brought it some much-needed street-cred! This large family car wouldn’t be cool without these pedals, because they at least give the semblance of “racing” and “speed”, even if it’s just in this minor, aesthetic way.
Let’s face it, a car that barely makes it with its measly 109 horsepower, it can use all the help it can get!
14 Crank Sunroof
The BMW E30 was a beautiful ride in the ’90s, and it still is today. You’d be lucky to drive one back then, as it was one of the more expensive cars on the market. The manual, 5-speed gearbox and rear-wheel drive made it fun to spin and show-off. The interior of this car was pretty slick compared to others that were manufactured during this timeframe. One of the most distinctive features of the interior of this E30 is the crank sunroof that we all know and love.
There’s something very grassroots and authentic about cranking the sunroof manually, and we wouldn’t swap this out of this car under any circumstances. It keeps this ride feeling authentic!
13 Face-Off Deck
If you were a teenager or a 20-something year old in the 1990s, without a doubt, the interior of everyone’s car featured their aftermarket, face-off deck. It was never acceptable to keep a stock deck installed in your car, and the face-off deck defined the era for anyone who was cool enough to be able to afford one.
They all came with cases that you could pop them into, and stash away every time you parked your car. The interior of this 1992 Honda CRX is definitely indicative of a fun generation, where the sound was aftermarket, removable, and defined your identity as being current, and trendy.
12 Two-Toned Plastic Dashboard
Believe it or not, this was considered an enhancement to vehicles, back in the 1990s. The interior of this car would never be embraced by today’s generation of new drivers, but it was all-the-rave back then! This 1993 Toyota Paseo would have been highly sought after in the 1990’s resale market.
The car was a 1.5 liter, front-wheel drive with fuel efficiency to brag about. And of course, you’d want to go everywhere in it, to show off this incredible interior. While it’s not something we’d invest in now, we can see the appeal of the two-toned detailing, and give it the credit it deserves!
11 Power Seat Belt
Who remembers these? They weren’t in every car, but if they were in yours, you surely remember how annoying they were! Upon entering the vehicle, the power seat belt would run across the track and position itself. This 1990 Corrado G60 is equipped with power seat belts, which are now obsolete.
The issue is that powered-anything was fairly new to that era, so it came with its fair share of problems. If the power seat belts failed on this car, it would take quite a bit of work (and money) to troubleshoot it. There were huge relays under the back seats that acted as the controllers for these automatic belts, complete with a fuse that had to be periodically switched-out!
10 Gaudy Plastic Cup Holders
Cup holders have long been a source of contention with many cars. Audi and VW have strange cup holder placement, trucks have them set too far away and difficult to reach – and when you think about it, cup holders are important tools that most of us use daily. The gaudy cup holders you see in this 1993 Ford 150 are a great example.
It was clear that they were slapped in, and that there wasn’t really much in the way of creativity when it came to the interior design of the cup holders in this car, or in most cars of the ’90s. Despite being functional, this photo captures the true essence of the ’90s, ugly cup-holders and all!
9 Manual E-Brake
The evolution of car design and technology is incredible to view. Most of us are now driving cars that feature electric/hydraulic emergency brake systems. During the 1990s, emergency brakes were manual and required the driver to pull up to engage them. They were essentially installed to aid drivers in establishing a secondary source of braking, should compressing their brake pedal fail to bring them to a stop.
A much-needed tool for cars with a manual transmission, this always came in handy. It may be tough to tell from this photo, but believe it or not, this 1993 Honda Accord LX was a pretty cool ride, 30 years ago!
8 Manual Mirrors
We weren’t joking when we said that practically nothing was automatically powered in cars sold in the early 1990s. For those who have never had to manually adjust their side mirrors, we hope you can live your life never having to know that feeling! It’s so simple for us to adjust our mirrors now, and it’s simple enough to do it while we are driving.
We can definitely tell you that wasn’t the case for the owner of this 1992 VW Golf GTI. The interior of this car looks amazing, but the manual mirrors were a pain! The thought of adjusting the mirrors manually makes us appreciate the ease of our current drive!
7 Ribbed Leather Boot
This 1990 Geo Storm had the classic ribbed leather boot that was indicative of a 1990’s driving experience! It gives the car a rawer, aggressive look, which is great in some cases but definitely can be a downfall in other situations. If you were the owner of this little putt-putt vehicle, you may potentially want it to look a little bit more aggressive, so this works!
This feature is no longer installed on cars – in fact, if you were to go online right now, in search of a “ribbed leather boot”, you’d likely find a few pairs of walking boots that your feet would enjoy instead!
6 Aftermarket Steering Wheels
There is definitely an aftermarket theme that was prevalent in the 1990s. Everyone seemed to want to adjust and enhance the interior of their vehicles during that time. The steering wheel was no different. Take a look at this 1991 VW Corrado G60, for example. This is a stunning steering wheel, and it makes the original one look basic and boring! Momo wheels were by far the most popular ones, followed closely by BBS.
We can admit, this was one of the more interesting aspects of 1990 vehicular interiors.
5 Patterned Seat Fabric
Somehow, at some point, someone thought that designing a car-seat fabric with multiple patterns and colors were going to be a really great idea. We beg to differ! It’s one thing to look back at these patterned seats fondly, but as much as we appreciate them, we are also happy that they didn’t stick around and remain a common trend.
This 1990 CRX interior was a classic symbol of the times! It’s safe to say this car would be fun to own now, as it truly captures the 1990s, but we really wouldn’t want this patterned-seat-feature to make a come-back in car dealerships anytime soon!
4 Interior LED Lighting
What better way to enhance your vehicular interior than by installing aftermarket LED interior lighting? Of course, this was a must-have in the 1990s. It created an ambient atmosphere in your car and quickly became the topic of many conversations. Illuminating the inside of a car was a big deal in the 1990s and one that not everyone was able to afford or get away with!
The owner of this Honda really outdid themselves! This is another one of those interior add-ons that were super cool in the 1990s, fun to look back at now, but definitely not one we want to repeat in the future!
3 Speaker Boxes
For any teenager growing up in the 1990s, having a custom speaker box installed in your trunk was a mandatory requirement. Nobody stuck to their stock audio systems, and in all fairness, we can’t blame them, they were terrible! Tweeters were typically installed in the interior liner at the front of the car, for those who had extra money to spend and street-cred to obtain.
However, the most important part of audio enhancement was in the trunk! Custom built, custom-carpeted speaker boxes were wildly popular, as seen in this 1991 Honda Accord. It just wasn’t a good day in the 1990s if you could see out of your rear-view mirror! If it wasn’t bouncing from sound vibration, you definitely didn’t install it properly!
2 The Club!
Car theft has always been a sad reality in our society. In an attempt to safeguard our vehicles in the 1990s, we all had, you guessed it, The Club! Designed to lock across your steering wheel and suspend your ability to adjust the steering column in any way, The Club was a staple for everyone, and we can all admit it came in handy!
This Toyota looks well protected, although, judging by the basic features we see in this photo, it likely wasn’t the target for theft in the first place!
1 Crank Windows
Driving this 1993 Ford Escort meant that everyone had to be capable to adjust their own windows. We take it for granted now that all our vehicles will come equipped with power windows, enabling us to adjust any of our windows effortlessly from the driver’s seat!
This is great when you have kids in the back seat, so you don’t have to pull over and reach over! This Escort shows the old school crank window adjustment and makes us appreciate the modern-day benefits that we so easily take for granted these days!
Sources: Drivingline, Pinterest & Hagerty