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a grey Mazda MX-5 RF with it's roof being lowered

Six of the Most Unusual and Quirky Car Features

The DriveDen blog provides advice, news and reviews. This article looks at six of the most unusual car features ever seen, from the ‘Openometer’ to seat belt presenters.

 

We’re big fans of the new Mazda MX-5 RF, with it’s clever retractable roof…though it actually stands for ‘retractable fastback!’. So inspired by this quirky design, we decided to look back at the most unusual and unconventional car features that made it into production…and one that thankfully didn’t!

 

Honda CR-X Del Sol Folding Roof
Mazda weren’t the first to come up with an alternative folding roof design, as there have been many variations in the past. Our favourite is the mechanism used on the Honda CR-X Del Sol, first launched in 1992. The ‘TransTop’ feature was only available in Japan and Europe but it was a memorable one…with the boot lid lifting up vertically and two arms extending into the targa top to bring it back into position and drop back down.

Honda Prelude Four-Wheel Steering
Honda are no strangers to innovation and for many generations, the Prelude model had a feature that is rarely seen on every day cars – four-wheel-steering. Helping to reduce a car’s turning circle and improving stability in high speed corning, four-wheel-steering was a concept that a few manufacturers dabbled with in the 80s and early 90s, particularly the Japanese market with efforts from Toyota, Mazda and Nissan. Even Porsche and BMW got involved in the idea…but it quite quickly faded away due to the high cost and a lukewarm response from markets outside of Japan.

Skoda Felicia Fun Rear Seat
The Skoda Felicia will probably not be considered a classic but the ‘Fun’ model, with a pickup bodystyle, did at least have an interesting feature to make it stand out from the crowd. It looked like a regular 2-seater pickup but the rear screen could be folded out to reveal some hidden seats, meaning the car was suddenly a 4-seater. The rear passengers were open to the elements unless the optional tonneau cover or Truckman top were installed, making the car a bit more practical. Even so, Skoda may have been using the term ‘Fun’ quite loosely!

Mini Openometer
When Mini unveiled the second generation convertible model at the 2009 Detroit auto show, they announced a feature that no one had seen coming…and frankly, no one had actually asked for; the Openometer! This device recorded the amount of time the car had been driven for while the roof was open and needless to say…it didn’t catch on!

Seat Belt Presenters
Manufacturers will often use gimmicky features as an easy way of selling the car but sometimes, an idea that looks a bit strange at first can be a genuinely good one. A case in point is the ‘seat belt presenter’ – an idea that has been featured on quite an array of vehicles over the years. Fitted to many convertibles, including the Vauxhall Cascada and the open top version of the Bentley Continental GT, the seat belt presenter is a device that moves the seat belt forward so the user doesn’t have to reach back to grab it. It seems unnecessary at first…but we think it’s one of those features that you’d actually appreciate if you had it!

Saab Joystick Controls
A list like this wouldn’t be complete without at least one feature from Saab…perhaps the most quirky of all car manufacturers! However, one idea does really stand out when all things are considered, and it’s the ‘drive-by-wire’ system that Saab were looking to develop in the early 90s. Nicknamed the ‘Prometheus’ and based on a Saab 9000, the test-car had it’s standard steering wheel removed and replaced by a joystick…and as much as that works for aircraft, it just really didn’t catch on in the automotive world. The project remained in the research stage but with the recent rise in autonomous technology, perhaps steering wheels will start to be a thing of the past after all…

 

That’s our list…but are there any unusual features that we missed? We’d love to hear about any that should have been included! Or why not check out one of our other features, such as The Best and Worst of China’s Copycat Cars

 

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