These car features used to be commonplace, but have been slowly made obsolete over time.

Car manufacturers innovate pretty quickly. Each year's car models seem to be massive technological improvements over the previous. With so many cool and advanced car features available today, we decided to take a look at old car features that have fallen out of use over the years. 

Large (and Dangerous) Hood Ornaments

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Hood ornaments used to be commonplace on cars. In fact, having the largest and gaudiest hood ornaments was considered a good way to show off your money. These miniature statues first saw use in the early 20th century, where they were often installed to hide radiator caps on the fronts of early cars. In time, however, they became a popular way to accessorize cars. Several car manufacturers had their own built-in ornaments, with Rolls Royce and Jaguar being two of the examples that have survived to today. Countless collector ornaments were made to celebrate everything from victory in WWII to the rise of the American Space program.

These hood ornaments presented a few issues, however. These ornaments were incredibly dangerous for pedestrians, especially if they jutted out from the car. Overly large hood ornaments also had the potential to turn minor fender-benders into considerably more serious accidents. Several manufacturers attempted to address this by mounting them on springs, but that simply made them too easy to other people to steal. 

Large hood ornaments are all but gone from cars today. Although some higher-end models might feature smaller ornaments, these are typically plastic instead of metal. Rolls Royce's Spirit of Ecstasy is one of the few surviving full-size ornaments, but newer models allow for the figure to disappear into the hood of the car when driving or parked in a public location.

Quarter Glass

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Also knows as vent glass, this feature was a small glass pane that sat inside the windows of most cars in the 1950s. As it was mounted separately from the larger window, the quarter glass would open up to allow the driver to vent air from the front of the car. Before air conditioning became common, small windows like these were often the best way to cool down a hot and stuffy car. 

While these features were convenient, they were also unsafe. As they were mounted separately from the larger window, a strong impact could break a quarter glass window and send it flying towards the people inside. Additionally, some of these small windows proved too easy for car thieves to jimmy open, allowing them to open up the driver's side of the car. 

The invention of air conditioners rendered quarter glass largely obsolete, but you can still see its design influences in cars today. Some models of cars feature segmented windows as an apparent aesthetic nod to the old car feature. 

Roll-Down Windows

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'90s kids remember the struggle. Before automatic window switches became widespread, opening and closing car windows was a chore. 

Windows were often mounted to these cranks, which could be spun to open and close them. At least, in theory. In reality, these cranks were prone to sticking, and any amount of dirt or grime would turn the process into an absolute grind. On the plus side, attempting to roll down windows was enough of a workout that you could probably start building arm muscle definition after doing it for a while. 

Of course, make sure you're alternating arms if you decide that you actually want to try that, for some reason. 

Motor Meters

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Modern cars have clear and easy-to-read fuel gauges mounted inside the dashboard, but this feature wasn't available in some of the earliest automobile models. Instead, these cars measured their fuel levels through a device called a motor meter. These glass fixtures were mounted atop the radiators in the hoods of early cars and would measure the remaining fuel levels by using a dipstick attached to a small bobbing ball. 

While these fuel measurements could often be imprecise, motor meters gained a lot of popularity for their visual designs. Different car manufacturers would hire artists to paint unique pictures on each of their meters. This increased the value and status of a car, as each driver could brag about having a meter completely unique to them. While the use of motor meters vanished almost overnight with the introduction of dashboard fuel gauges, they remain a popular collector's item for vintage car enthusiasts. 

Cigarette Lighters

Courtesy of Wikipedia

The notion of having an object inside your car that's hot enough to start fires might seem strange today, but it was remarkably commonplace until fairly recently. Cigarette lighters would use energy from a car plugin to heat a metal coil, which in turn would get hot enough to ignite cigarette tips. If this sounds potentially dangerous, that's because it is. It also wasn't rare for these lighters to sit right next to built-in ashtrays, another weirdly common car feature that would be difficult to justify today. 

Many of these cigarette lighter ports would later be repurposed as plugins for car power ports. The DC Car power system became a way for drivers to plug in electronics that would be directly powered from the car's internal energy sources. Although cigarette lighters are gone from modern car models, their legacy lives on. 

Do you know about any other interesting, out-of-use car features? Let us know in the comments below!