These days, luxury cars can come with every comfort and convenience feature imaginable. It’s no surprise that early automobiles were much different. Today, we’ll take a look at how technology has transformed automotive comfort throughout the 20th century. By the time you’re done reading, you’ll have a new sense of appreciation for how far our cars have come.
The early 1900s
The earliest automobiles were open-air vehicles, which exposed passengers to the raw elements. Unless you were traveling in perfect weather, you’d probably be too hot or too cold, or even worse, rained on. In 1910, Cadillac developed the first closed body car, which was a total game changer. As a result, manufacturers began to develop ways to bring comfort to auto interiors.
The next several years saw a few key innovations. In 1912, Cadillac released the Model Thirty. This was equipped with an electronic self-starter, lighting, and ignition. The luxury brand Scripps-Booth began installing power door locks in their cars in 1914. In 1929, Ford began installing the first interior heating systems. These developments opened the door for more interior enhancements down the road.
With a focus on interiors, sound systems saw significant development. The first car radios were installed in the late 1920s, and became standard in the 1930s. It wasn’t until 1950 that the first AM/FM radio appeared. By 1966, 8-track players were offered in Ford Mustangs. However, these were ultimately superseded by cassette players. The 1980s saw the birth of the car CD player, and these remained popular for the next 15 to 20 years. In the early 2000s, compact digital storage media, such as USB ports came into vogue. Nowadays, drivers use smartphones to stream music to their vehicle’s sound systems. These audio systems have come quite a long way since the first AM radios!
Climate control comfort
Packard Motor Car Company had two important inventions for automotive climate. These were power windows and in-car air conditioners. Both were invented in 1940, making it possible to manage a vehicle’s interior temperature. Cadillac built on these ideas and in 1960 developed an automatic climate control system. This allowed passengers to select and set an interior temperature by clicking a button. By 1980, Cadillac improved on their system and released an electronic version. This version is similar to what manufacturers use in modern cars.
Seat improvements and comfort
The first car with heated seats was the 1966 Cadillac DeVille. Since then, the quality has improved tremendously. Additionally, automakers have developed other heated features, from side paneling to steering wheels. In 1998, Saab came out with ventilated seats. The ultimate luxury seat comes from Mercedes, who released a massaging car seat in the early 2000s. A spa experience in the car? Sign me up.
Modern technology and human machine interfaces
Today’s cars come with smart interfaces. These allow for full integration of your personal device. This technology is known as human machine interface, or HMI. HMI technology gives you control over a wide range of interior features, including the following:
- Internet and cloud connectivity
- Interior temperature and seat comfort
- Touch interfaces
- Wireless communication
- Sound systems and advanced lighting
HMI technology gives you control of luxury interior features with the simple tap of a screen.
We’ve certainly made significant progress since the days of open-air automobiles. Early manufacturers couldn’t have dreamed the level of comfort and convenience we have available to us today.
Do you want to know more about the interior features in your car? Our experienced technicians at D&D Autoworks have answers. Give us a call today at (952) 931-9696 for our Minnetonka Boulevard location, or (952) 922-9696 for our West Lake Street location. You can also make an appointment online. We look forward to hearing from you.