Bucket seats, floor mounted shift,tachometer, spoiler

Why do “modern” cars have these features? 1. Bucket seats: They are not as comfortable as plain seats, and no one needs them except race car drivers. 2.When shift levers moved from the floor to the steering column (in 1930’s),it was a step forward, but now auto makers have returned to the position on the floor, which is less convenient and reduces front seat space. Why?

3. Spoilers on rear deck. They have no significant effect except at speeds too high for safe driving. Why are we forced to buy such worthless items.?

4. Tachometer - no one really needs them except truck drivers or race car drivers. They are just extra expense.

Bucket seats, cool but no way to fit 3 passengers in the front seat. Probably a marketing research thing.
Floor shifter adds extra cool as you can pretend you have a sports car instead of your dad’s buick, besides you’ve got bucket seats so why not.
Spoilers, a complete waste of time and materials, marketing research must have found them a turning point for cool on the car buyers list.
Tachometer, I have to wonder about that, many cars have a tach, then idiot lights for everything else, useless unless you have a manual trans and drive by gauges, but electrical tape works for idiot lights, why not tach also.

The folks that market cars have a bad habit of giving folks what they want. It keeps working so they keep doing it. The ear has always been better than a tach because not only does it precisely detect a smooth sound, it also is unmatched by any device to detect smooth motion. Shift on the floor, and very close to the transmission, follows the KISS school of engineering. So that would be good.

Someone’s feeling crabby today.

“Bucket seats?” There haven’t been any real bucket seats in years. A friend of mine has a couple of old Austin Healeys. They have bucket seats. New cars do not have “bucket” seats.

  1. Sorry, but I find individual front seats (“bucket,” if you insist) more comfortable than bench front seats. I like to position my seat the way I like it and allow my front seat passenger to do the same. You can’t do that with a bench seat. Besides, three across the front seat is NOT safe.

  2. I have a car with a manual transmission. It’s gear shift is in the console between the seats. My other car has an automatic, and its shifter is also between the seats. My pickup truck has its automatic shifter on the steering column. I can’t see how one is better than the other. The pickup still has a big storage console on the transmission hump, so you can’t use the space for a person anyway.

  3. I agree 100%, even though one of my cars has a spoiler. Its only function is to hold the CHMSL (Center High Mounted Stop Lamp), and it has no aerodynamic properties that I can discern. Oh, and it makes it harder to wash the car. I could happily live without it, but it came as part of the option package on the car.

  4. Sorry again, but I prefer having a tachometer, and I’m glad they’ve become standard equipment on most cars. Even my pickup has one. Part of driving, in my opinion, is monitoring the vehicle’s condition and what the engine is doing. The tachometer, in conjunction with the other gauges, helps me do this. Also, when I’m driving my manual transmission car it helps me know when to shift, and how far I can push it in a given gear if necessary.

To sum up, modern cars have these “features” because people (some people) have come to expect them, and they are now considered standard equipment.

Having said that, a few years ago I owned a car that had no tachometer, no power steering, no air conditioning, no power windows, no remote locking, no airbags, no ABS, no ESC, no TRAC, no spoiler, no CD player, no nothing. It did, however, have bucket seats and a 4-on-the-floor, and it got almost 40 mpg.

The only thing I missed was AC.

You’re very selective in the options you complain about. Does your car have ABS? Air Conditioning? Power Steering? Air Bags? Electronic Stability Control? Traction Control? GPS? The list goes on and on.

Why don’t you consider these “extra expenses?”

  1. Bucket Seats: That is a matter of opinion or preference. You are one of the few for whom it makes a difference.

  2. Floor Mounted Shifter: Again, this is a matter of opinion or preference. I like the floor shifter for my manual transmission. Shifting a manual on the steering column always seemed strange to me.

  3. Spoilers: These are there for a visual effect, which most people find appealing. I agree that decorative spoilers are useless, which is why I bought a car that didn’t have one. Nobody forced you to select a car that had one. Why exactly to you feel you have been forced into buying a car with features you don’t like? Don’t you have a choice in the matter?

  4. Tachometers: People like them, and they can help with trouble shooting problems. If you don’t like them, don’t buy a car that has one. My car has a manual transmission, and I wish my car had a tachometer. My car isn’t a race car, but I would find a tachometer useful.

With the bench seats, I think part of it is that on narrower cars (like most these days) you can only fit a very small person in the middle space and these days you’re not supposed to put your kids in the front. Plus the center console is where the all-important cup-holders go!

But on wider cars, I really don’t see why they wouldn’t want to at least offer a bench seat-- it seems like that extra person would be a decisive factor for a lot of people (look how often we get those “car with good mileage and seats 6” questions?)

The Mercury Grand Marquis and Lincoln Towncar both have front split bench seats that can seat three. I doubt that those are the only two cars made with split bench, but I doubt that any car is made with a solid bench seat in the front anymore.)

The reason for only two front seats is safety. No room for a full width air-bag and no way to attach a shoulder belt…

It’s CHEAPER to put the shifter in the center console. In the steering column requires complex linkage in an area already PACKED with other stuff…

It may be cheaper, and it may have to do with safety, but I believe it is also a matter of preference. It isn’t necessarily a preference for bucket seats, but it could be a LACK of preference for bench seats. Likewise, it isn’t necessarily a preference for a floor shifter. It is more likely it is a LACK of preference for a column shifter, or more likely a preference for a simpler more reliable mechanism.

Some minivans have a second row bench seat.

When I was 16, me and my friends went off campus for lunch in a F350. We were late to school and sat 3 across in front. In retrospect, I should’ve taken the extra second to get in the back of the crew cab. Anyways, in one sharp swerve to the right to avoid something and 2 of us were stacked on top of the driver, who hung onto the steering wheel and tipped the truck. I want bucket seat to securely hold every driver on the road that I’m sharing with.

Regarding column shifters, I once tried to grab a lower gear and got the wiper instead, in the dark, on a winding road that I drove on for the 1st time. I did not need that surprise after driving 6 hours prior to that. I would prefer something like this.
Just a short reach from the helm and it won’t be confused with other stuff on the column

The put on cars what sells cars. It is as simple as that.

However they often create the market by inferring that this or that is somehow better than what standard. HID headlights as a case in point. They are more expensive, more subject to failure and in my opinion they are less functional (the bright line spectrum they have distorts colors and that reduces our ability to see objects for what they really are. It appears that the general public has not bought into this one, so hopefully it will soon die out.

  1. Bucket seats are much more comfortable IMHO, They provide better cushioning and better support than a bench seat.

  2. If you have a stick shift, having floor mounted shifter is decidely easier to deal with it

  3. On most cars it’s strictly for looks, fortunately many cars have a “spoiler delete” option from the factory.

  4. Tachs are useful as a diagnostic tool and are nice to have if you drive stick shift car.

The OP’s list of complaints reminds me of something


Fill it up with petroleum distillate and revulcanize my tires POST HASTE! …

Agree; my last “geezer” car was a 1988 Chevy Caprice which had a 60/40 split bench seat with 3 sets of seat belts. On a long trip, my wife could doze off in the reclining passenger seat and shove it all the way back. In a pinch we could carry 6 passengers legally and safely.

The car had a column shift as well. This arrangement appeared to be the best of all worlds. And it was standard equipment.

My custom ordered 1965 Dodge Dart hardtop had bucket seats, but the console shift was an option; the standard edition had a column shift. Mine had the “console shift Torqueflite” automatic unit.

  1. Bucket Seats are far far more comfortable (at least to me) then bench seats.

  2. I much prefer the shifter on the floor…even when the vehicle I owned had bench seats. Especially a manual shift.

  3. Agree with spoilers…NOT needed (especially for fwd vehicles). They just look cool.

  4. Tach…Again I agree…NOT needed. Give me back my gauges (oil pressure, oil temp, volt meter).

Linkage for steering column shifters can’t be that complex; they’ve been widely used for more than 60 years. Floor mounted shift may be cheaper and a bit simpler, but I think the main reason is “creative” marketing - make the average Joe feel like he’s a NASCAR driver.

I agree with you on 1 and 2. Spoilers might look cool on some cars, but on most they look ridculous. Nothing is sillier than an Accord or Camry with a spoiler. A tach with an automatic transmission can be useful as a fuel mileage monitor. It the driver keeps the RPMs below 2000 in top gear, it will use less fuel.

Shift levers-ergonomic leverage
Spoilers-they actually work somewhat IMO, not for performance as much, but for road grime on trunk lids, hatch backs
Tachometer-if your not monitoring your engine speed, you’re not doing your job; you can still shift most autos

Tach to me helps me to diagnose engine trouble if car/truck is revving high, more info for diagnosis.