The Ten Greatest Dead Ends In Automotive Technology

New automotive technology comes a dime a dozen, but not everything makes the cut. Here are ten that didn’t survive.

10.) Joystick Steering


Back in the 90s, Saab attempted to remove safety concerns of hitting the driver’s face on the steering wheel during an accident. To do this, Saab had to change how the driver controlled the vehicle altogether. Saab’s best idea was to mount a joystick in the center of the car. It didn’t work.

Suggested By: Mox, Photo Credit:

9.) 85 MPH Speedometer

Back in the early ‘80s and the days of the national mandated speed limit of 55, the U.S. Government felt that it could be beneficial to cap speedometers at 85 and highlight 55 to remind drivers of the new national speed limit. Yes, because if the speedometer can’t go above 85, there’s no way anyone would dare disobey it. Good call U.S. Government!

Suggested By: webmonkees, Photo Credit: Robert Couse-Baker via Flickr

8.) Modular Cars


The perfect car. Why did consumers take it for granted? It had the ability to be a sporty targa one day, then a hauler of goods the next. Too bad like many other good things in this world, it didn’t last. May the concept of modular cars rest in peace. Gone but not forgotten.


Suggested By: XYCromersome, Photo Credit: Nissan

7.) Eight-Track Tape


Before the rise in popularity of the CD and the cassette tape, Eight-Tracks were one of the few ways to listen to pre-recorded music on the go. The widespread usage of Eight-Track systems can primarily be due to how Ford and GM pushed for their integration in cars in the ‘60s. If you didn’t want to subject yourself to another The Pop Chronicles or The Credibility Gap, you could pop in your favorite Johnny Cash Eight-Track and rock out all day and all night.

Suggested By: Green Pig, Photo Credit: Nesster via Flickr

6.) Tweel


Though Michelin appears to be dedicated to the production and marketing of Tweels, the technology still doesn’t seem to be making any serious advancements with road-going consumer vehicles.


Who really knows though? Maybe my coworker Jason was right. Maybe this will be their year.


Suggested By: PyroHoltz, Photo Credit: Michelin via

5.) Mechanical Fuel Injection


As a technology first developed for use in aircraft, it wasn’t until much later that a proper adaption for road car usage was developed. Mechanical fuel injection became popular with high performance drag cars as well as performance cars from some of our favorite European automakers in the ‘70s and ‘80s. Because of the extensive list of fuel delivery issues that became a normal occurrence with MFI cars, this technology ended up being trouble than it was worth.

Suggested By: Thud Slamrod, Photo Credit:

4.) Seat Belt Starter Lockout


Yes, yes, you should wear your seat belt when driving or riding passenger in a car, but there are numerous reasons as to why it wasn’t such a great for the U.S. Government to require cars to not be able to start without a seat belt fastened. The systems that were being used were overly sensitive and outright annoying. At least it took them only less than a year to realize their mistake and retract this silly requirement.

Suggested By: webmonkees, Photo Credit: Ross via Flickr

3.) Atomic Cars


The atomic car idea never made it much further past the concept stage, and thankful I am for that. How would you feel being overtaken by a car with a nuclear reactor hanging out the back?

Suggested By: Chairman Kaga, Photo Credit: Ford Motor Company via Hemmings

2.) Pop-up Headlights


Everyone loves pop-up headlights! It’s a shame there aren’t any cars that are on sale today that still make use of them. I fell in love with the pop-ups on my Porsche 944, but that love started to fade when I had to start getting out of the car to pull them out from hiding when the headlight motor began to die.

Suggested By: ReforMatt, Photo Credit: JAK SIE MASZ via Flickr

1.) Carburetors


Prior to modern fuel injection, carburetion was the method of choice for fuel delivery in motor vehicles. As fuel efficiency concerns arose and as fuel injection became more stable and reliable, carburetors were quickly phased out.

Its unfortunate that nowadays with modern cars, even if you think you know what you’re doing, you can’t mess with the air/fuel tuning unless you have the proper understanding and the right tools.


Suggested By: chuckietheing, Photo Credit: alex roberts via Flickr

Welcome back to Answers of the Day - our daily Jalopnik feature where we take the best ten responses from the previous day’s Question of the Day and shine it up to show off. It’s by you and for you, the Jalopnik readers. Enjoy!


Top Photo Credit: Tennen-Gas

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