Forget Cupholders; Cars Need Built-In Ashtrays Again

Illustration for article titled Forget Cupholders; Cars Need Built-In Ashtrays Again
Photo: Don Brinn (AP)

There used to be a time—a wonderful, beautiful time—when cars had built-in ashtrays. If cars come with cavities these days, it’s more cup holders, and how many of those do we really need?


I mean, sure. You can still get a smoker’s package these days, but that’s nothing more than an ashtray to stick inside one of your excessively numerous cup holders. There’s no allure there. No mystery. What happened to the days when your ashtray popped out of the dashboard, or spun out of the side of the backseat?

This is probably going to come as a surprise, but, friends, I don’t smoke. Not even remotely. I don’t even let anyone smoke in my car!

But the ashtrays were great places to stash your treasures. Vehicles have not been the same without this little hidden pocket full of gems.

Listen. Hear me out. This was an integral part of my childhood. This would be an integral part of my adulthood if behavior modification hadn’t become the mainstream (y’know, that whole “we don’t provide the means, you don’t do the thing” deal). Back in the day, the ashtray of the family vehicle was constantly stashed with beautiful rocks, tiny shells from the beach, spare change, and any little trinkets I collected during our family outings. Today, I’d just really like to have a place to stow my toll road money that isn’t visible to the outside world.

And there are still people who smoke out there. It would be, y’know, kind of nice to give them a place to put their cigarette butts that aren’t a) flicked out of their window onto my car, or b) tamped out in an ashtray that I visibly have to see when I get into your passenger seat.

It’s just a simple matter of rebranding. Bring back ashtrays but call them, like, Tiny Treasure Chests or That Place To Hold Spare Change or Magic Button To Impress All Your Friends. I don’t know. Just call it something different and bring back this integral part of car culture.

Weekends at Jalopnik. Managing editor at A Girl's Guide to Cars. Lead IndyCar writer and assistant editor at Frontstretch. Novelist. Motorsport fanatic.



no. just no. i bought a used truck about 2 years ago that was smoked in. it had an ash tray and a pop-out cigarette lighter.

as a non-smoker, i don’t ever think to check ash trays.

it was FULL. took me 6 months and a lot of cleaning products trying to get rid of that smell, when it was cleverly hidden in the dash, and then i had to figure out how to get the ashtray out without spilling anything. spoiler alert— you can’t.

and then last month, i finally got around to figuring out why one of the 2 cigarette lighters(always called them that, but they’re really just accessory ports for me) didn’t work. the only way to get to all the bolts undone for the trim(thanks ford!) was laying down on the floor boards looking up.

when the trim finally came loose, it turned out that the accessory port was jam packed with ashes as well. which kindly went all over me.

the reason the accessory port failed was because of the heat/ashes corroding all the contacts within. had to get a replacement from a pick-n-pull.

so i’ve spent, 2 showers, about $200 in cleaning solutions, $10 in pick-n-pull parts, and somewhere near 30 hours cleaning, because the asshole before me smoked in the truck.

that is not something i can condone.   if you want to smoke, fine, smoke OUTSIDE something you’re going to sell later..