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.

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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.