Car manufacturers are constantly trying to one-up and outshine each other, and that means adding new features to their vehicles. Every year they have to improve their vehicle line-up and try to cram as many fancy gadgets and features into the car as possible.
While some, or even most of these features are useful, occasionally we stumble across some that make us scratch our heads and wonder what's really going on in their boardrooms. Take a look at this list we put together of some of the rarest and weirdest car features that we’ve ever come across. Make sure you let us know if you've ever owned a car with these features, or if you know about any other strange and obscure ones we might have missed.
20 Conversation Mirror
Some minivans and crossover SUVs have a small convex mirror mounted overhead that lets the driver keep an eye on the goings-on in the backseats. It often pulls down from a compartment mounted near the rearview mirror, and it will help you keep tabs on your kids, dogs, and whatever else is along for the ride without having to take your eyes off the road for an extended period.
19 Drowsiness Detector
Even with enhanced safety measures like stability control and collision sensors, a driver who is dozing off behind the wheel is a hazard. Some carmakers, including Audi, Mercedes, and Volvo are solving the problem with detection systems that monitor how well you’re staying in your lane, along with how long you’ve been driving.
The "openometer” was fitted in the Mini Cooper convertible. Basically, it was a round gauge that sat on the dashboard of the car and it kept track of the amount of time the roof had been down. We're not sure why, but we guess it had something to do with regulating the duration of sunlight exposure.
17 Curb Feelers
Thank goodness these things are long gone. These ugly things were used to alert drivers when they got too close to the curb. They disappeared when people figured out how to use their mirrors when parking, leaving them obsolete. Just view them as really ugly training wheels for new drivers.
16 Heartbeat Sensor
It seems carmakers are moving away from cars that are fun to drive, and instead focus on just safety and hi-tech features. There are a few manufacturers who are now working on heartbeat sensors for their vehicles. Some to check if the driver is still awake, others to detect if there are any intruders in the vehicle before you get in. How did we ever manage without this?
15 Cooled and Heated Cupholders
This feature could've been great! Hot drinks during winter, cold beverages in the summer... it's perfect! Except for two tiny little problems. They don't work with all cups and bottles, and they only seem to keep one half of the drink at the desired temperature. We suppose it's possible to circumvent that last problem by drinking half of it, then wait before drinking the other half?
14 Subaru Brat’s Bolt-In Bed Seats
The U.S. imposed a 25% tariff on imported small trucks, forcing companies to build many of their trucks and SUVs stateside. Subaru didn't have resources for a factory in America, so it did the next best thing: bolted a set of plastic jump-seats in the cargo bed and labeled the Brat a ‘passenger car,’ thus avoiding the tariff while demonstrating a clear disregard for the value of human life.
13 Mitsubishi Twin Stick
What’s better than a single reverse gear? Two reverse gears! Or at least that was the philosophy behind Mitsubishi’s Twin Stick transmission - also called Super Shift. It was supposed to create a ‘Power’ and ‘Economy’ set of gearing for the car, but in the real world, it didn't really work since humans only have two hands. Most people just left their cars in "power" mode.
12 Rim Blow Steering Wheel
Questionable name aside, the Rim Blow steering wheel was meant to make it easier for the driver to find the horn - it’s usually near the middle of the steering wheel. This new design incorporated a band that ran around the entire inside of the steering wheel that would sound the horn when gripped tightly. Unfortunately, it either hardened - making the horn useless - or shrank and the horn would blare continuously.
11 Honda CR-V Shower
Back in the early 2000s, the Honda CR-V’s options catalog contained a listing for a ‘shower attachment,’ which took the form of a water jug, plastic hose, showerhead, and 12-volt pump. Attached to the open tailgate, the unit was intended to ‘hose down muddy boots,’ but all the CR-V driving outdoors-enthusiast would use it as their camp shower.
10 Rolls-Royce Umbrellas
Rolls-Royce owners don't want to be troubled by raindrops - that's something they leave the peasants to deal with. That's why a modern Rolls-Royce comes with a set of umbrellas spring-mounted inside either the front fenders or doors. It's actually kinda neat, and other manufacturers have taken note of it, so we can expect to see more of this in the future.
9 Scooter In The Trunk
We're not quite sure what Honda was thinking when they placed a minibike in the back of the Honda City, but we think it's the greatest idea of all time. All cars should come with a minibike! It should be noted that the Honda City is a tiny car, and with this 2.5 horsepower folding scooter in the back, there was no storage space left.
8 Yellow Headlights
Yellow headlights were common on European cars from the 1930s through the 1990s. These yellow lights weren't just a cosmetic feature, they served a purpose when it came to safety as they improve visibility at night by removing certain colors from the wavelength spectrum, thus reducing glare and reflections. This is why yellow foglights are getting more common these days.
7 Top Speed Key
We're willing to bet your car doesn't have one of these. The top speed key was a feature on the Bugatti Veyron - in order to reach a top speed of more than 250 mph, it requires drivers to insert a specific key. Doing so would change the car’s suspension to make it suited for such insane speeds.
6 Pedestrian Airbags
Anyone who's ever sat in a car knows there are airbags fitted inside to keep occupants safe in an accident. However, these particular airbags deploy on the outside and can cushion a pedestrian from impact with the car. Apparently, vehicles such as the Land Rover Discovery Sport have toyed around with the concept - which activates in a mere 60 milliseconds.
5 BMW “Gentleman Function”
Some BMWs have a feature known as “The Gentleman Function.” It was basically a button, and when you push it, it automatically adjusted the driver’s seat to make room for anyone sitting in the backseat. When the driver is alone, he can deactivate it to go back to the legroom he's used to in the front. Apparently, it's too hard for some people to just move their seats manually.
4 Perfume Dispenser
A few manufacturers have actually gone and fitted perfume dispensers in their cars, although we've never actually been in any of those cars. We're not sure how good this idea really is. People who have smelly cars are usually the type who doesn't care about perfume anyway. Perhaps test the concept in taxis first? Or just buy one of those scented trees that dangle from the mirror?!
3 Light-Up Speakers
To some people, the engine and exhaust is all the sound they need from their car. Others want to hear their favorite tunes blaring from the sound system. To each their own, right?! We don't understand the Kia Soul's colorful speakers that can pulse in unison with the music though. They just come off as a distraction - and a rather pointless one at that.
2 Ventilated Seats
Seats with tiny holes in them that blow air on the driver and passenger to cool them down. While it's an interesting concept, it also makes us wonder just how spoiled we have become. We hope the force is adjustable so it doesn't feel like we're stuck in a hurricane during the daily commute.
1 Ice Maker
Are sudden cravings for ice while driving an actual thing? This must've been the predecessor to the beverage temperature device we talked about earlier. Back in 1984, Toyota apparently thought a center console that doubled as an icemaker was something people actually needed in their cars, so they fitted it to the Van - their futuristic people mover.
Sources: Reader's Digest, Roadkill, Jalopnik