Are Luxury Car Features Really Necessary?

Photo by John Schnobrich on Unsplash

Photo by John Schnobrich on Unsplash

My father-in-law is a smart, hard-working, humble man. He lives very simply. But there are two luxuries in life that he treats himself to: top-of-the-line television sets, and nice cars.  He always leases the latest Cadillac with every luxury item imaginable. For him and his wife, it’s perfect. After all, they are in their eighties, and they deserve that level of comfort and luxury after working so hard all of their lives.  But, that’s not for me.

Simple Cars

I prefer very simple cars. The fewer gadgets, fancy computer interfaces, and do-dads, the better. In fact, one of my favorite cars of all time is my father’s 1931 Model A Ford.  If I could, I would drive that car every day.  It has no frills, no unnecessary gadgets, and no real luxuries. In fact, it doesn’t even have seat belts. However, what it does have is complete control over the incredibly simply four-cylinder engine.  You can manually control the air/fuel mixture, spark timing, and idle. In fact, you have to actually listen to the engine and then respond by adjusting the air/fuel mixture and spark timing. I love it! There’s no texting and driving with the Model A. Since you have to give it your constant full attention to make sure it stays running, there’s no room for distractions. But having full control is worth it to me.

Luxury vs. Control

In modern cars, you often give up control for luxury.  Sure some great advances have improved the overall ride and drive-ability factors, but a lot of it is handled by one or more computers. Computers you likely have no access to. Mostly because if you could adjust the computer settings, you’d probably mess things up.  Cars are pretty complicated now, and many sensors are tied together in strict reliance on each other. For me, that’s frustrating.  I like having more control. In the Model A, you are the sensor.  But, again, that’s just me.  Some people are glad to give up control for luxuries like heated seats, but I’d rather have control.

I was talking with my son, and he told me that a certain model of car had air conditioned seats. My first reaction was, “that’s pretty cool.” (no pun intended). But then I started thinking about it. To me, it’s another thing to go wrong. I know there are a ton of other whiz-bang features available now and I see them as future things I will need to fix.  Things like touchscreens, motorized seats (that remember how I set them last), overly complicated heating and cooling controls, voice-activated systems, and automatic parallel parking. And then there’s automatic windshield wipers.

Manual Windshield Wipers

I recently drove a car with automatic windshield wipers that sense moisture and set their own intervals for clearing the window. While it was pretty neat, it was also annoying. It kept going on when I didn’t want it to. I had to laugh because I remember my old car that had manual windshield wipers. The wiper motor was broken, so I tied a string to them and pulled them back and forth when needed. Dangerous and illegal, yes.  But I had about $1.42 to my name at the time.

It’s All About You

And that’s really my point; everyone is different.  If you love the gadgets, electronics, and technology, then luxury features are necessary. I prefer simplicity. But that’s just me. In the end, choosing a car is a personal choice.  It’s all about you and what you need.

Written by Gary Pradel