© 2024 Milwaukee Public Media is a service of UW-Milwaukee's College of Letters & Science
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Five Commonplace Car Features Once Deemed 'Special'


If you walked into a car dealership today and asked the salesperson which vehicles had anti-lock brakes, you would be in for a puzzled look. If you asked the same question 30 years ago, their reaction would be entirely different.

Technology has certainly progressed exponentially since Mark Savage started writing about cars in the 1980s. Savage discussed the evolving landscape of the auto industry with fellow Lake Effect contributor Dan Harmon. “Technology has changed a lot … things that I used to write about I don’t write about anymore because it’s kinda common,” says Savage.

Savage named a few things one used to look for when buying a car that are commonplace now:

  • Antilock brakes

“I don’t even need to mention that anymore because you expect that on a car,” notes Savage.

  • Crank windows 
  • Manual transmissions

“There’s no real reason for it, except for the driving fun,” says Savage of the now-outdated method.

  • Unleaded gas

“I didn’t think it was still even available,” says Harmon of EPA-condemned leaded gas.

  • Key fobs

While we may have some nostalgia for simplier cars, Savage says that in 2018, “the cars are better and they’re certainly more reliable than they were. There are very few cars I would consider ‘bad’ cars.”

Dan Harmon was one of the original members of Lake Effect (formerly At Ten). He started at WUWM in November of 1998 and left December of 2015 after 17 years of production.
Mark Savage writes the auto review column, Savage On Wheels, for WUWM (formerly for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel) and Savageonwheels.com. He is the former executive editor of American Snowmobiler magazine and FineScale Modeler magazine, both part of Kalmbach Media in Waukesha.