QotW: What’s your favorite automotive invention?

Today, April 18, is Invention Day in Japan, a remembrance of the day in 1885 when the Japanese patent system was established. The automotive world has often been on the forefront of innovation, whether its advanced stuff like carbon fiber composites or what-took-them-so-long ideas like the humble cupholder. And don’t forget the Bubble Era gimmicks like the Pulsar EXA’s swappable rear hatch. For the purposes of not stating the obvious, we’ll exclude items like engines and, you know, the wheel, unless you have a unique take on the topic.

What’s your favorite automotive invention?

The best comment by next Monday will receive a prize. Scroll down to see the winner of last week’s QotW, “How do you listen to audio content in your car?

As technology has advanced older cars have required more and more convoluted workarounds to keep up. Land Ark has wired up a system of Bluetooth receivers on his older cars, Yuri installed a modern double DIN head unit on his Supra, while Jan van Kleef swaps out USB sticks.

Some of you refused to bother with those things and just made do with what the car gave you, whether it was Mike P. listening to AM radio or Lupus enjoying the concert hall experience of a Nakamichi era Lexus.

Far and away, however, the most common answer, somewhat surprisingly, was that you chose to listen to nothing at all. Chuck, Brett, MWC, BlitzPig, Long Beach Mike, MikeRL411, f31roger, and Steve all preferred the the soundtracks provided by their cars’ engines. It was hard to choose a winner, but Alan probably said it best:

I roll down the windows (manually, natch), drop down a gear or two, and pin the throttle to the carpet. Four throttles honking to 8400 rippums a few inches behind your head is a hell of a drug.

I have an elaborate, late 1990’s, JDM double-din Pioneer deck with a motorized face and CD/cassette but that’s just for show. AW11s don’t have much space for speakers, which is totally cool with me.

Omedetou, your comment has earned you a set of decals from the JNC Shop!

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10 Responses to QotW: What’s your favorite automotive invention?

  1. MWC says:


  2. Jeremy A. says:

    Radial tires. Some people may be nostalgic for them, but I’ve driven cars on bias-ply tires and spirited driving can be described as ‘slithering’ up the road. Not so with radial tires, which have a much stiffer carcass and while you have a rougher ride, you have so much more road feel and more direct input on the car.

  3. Dimitry Mochkin says:

    The most iconic form of headlight – the popup headlight. Iconic from European to Japanese (and many a J-tin sported them), and even Americans dabbled in them. An unfortunate casualty of the never-ending chase of safety – the popup headlight pretty much became synonymous with the ’80’s.

  4. kyushanerd says:

    I really like the “high roof”. The raised roof japanese manufacturers had in the 80s. A good example is the 1983 Honda city manhatten roof or the Daihatsu charade turbo. I really like the look of those cars. Also the Honda city had a cool orange –> https://minkara.carview.co.jp/userid/1375390/blog/40766829/

  5. Jim Daniels says:

    The 5- speed manual transmission. It is a good compromise of gears even in today’s world and it allows or demands one to be interactive with the vehicle allowing a oneness of car and driver. When the art of heel and toe shifting, breaking, and throttle come together it is a beautiful dance. And with the right motor tune and exhaust system is music to the ears.

  6. speedie says:

    Its a tie between heated seats and rain sensing wipers. Nothing like a warm butt while driving safely in the rain.

  7. Alan says:

    For me, it’s a simpler customization. The moon roof. I use mine on my 00′ Accord so much. It’s really nice. If I just want a slight breeze or to hear road noise, I can tilt the window and boom.
    I also really enjoy watching it rain on the roof. It gives a really cool vibe.

  8. Alan says:

    Having recently actually driven a 1905 Oldsmobile I can safely say that tiller steering is terrifying, even at riding lawnmower speeds and power levels.

    Other things we take for granted, I’ve since discovered, include electric start, brakes that contribute an effort towards braking, conventional H-pattern gearboxes, auto-advancing/retarding ignition, and actual, quantifiable suspension. Windshields, seat belts, tires that do not come from bicycles, doors and/or roofs are also quite underrated.

    My favorite automotive invention of all, though, has to be the reliable, affordable, practical, usable, durable Japanese vehicle as we’ve known it for the past four decades or so. That this unmatched group of attributes often also includes others like fun-to-drive, powerful, luxurious, technically advanced, or high performance (both on and off-road) just adds to the endless appeal of Japanese cars.

    I cannot drive, work on or own enough. I will never be satisfied.

    PS thanks for the award!

  9. Kevin H. says:

    Blind Spot Warning systems (BSW).
    As a lover of pre 90s vehicles, most of the cars I have owned do not have the safety technology that most people take for granted today. Yeah my exhaust is usually boisterous and my automotive style leans more toward flamboyant, but the type of people who settle for bland CUVs and the largest monster truck they can afford (I live in Texas) aren’t the most “road aware” people.
    I guess my favorite automotive invention should fall under Heard Immunity. The masses are being nannied so that I can safely drive my old, not always correctly working, sometimes-headlights-don’t-work, non-ABS, overpowered, windshield-wipers-are-for-show, death wagon… I mean; my classic Japanese daily.
    I know that some of you probably drive SUVs or other “I’m too man enough to just get a minivan for my family” vehicles, but I thank you. Even you help keep the road fun and safe for me, who chooses to drive something that is slightly more safe that a motorcycle.
    With BSW technology you will always know I’m there weather you can see me or not… or even care if I’m there.

  10. Negishi no Keibajo says:

    Power Steering would be my pick. 235/50’s without Power Steering becomes an exercise & ultimately practicality. PS systems have come a long way from the 60’s. Call it a concession to purity. I’m ok with it. I’ll drive it more.

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