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Simpler times simpler cars

How far back in time do I have to go to get a car that’s not loaded down with electronic doodads? I recently rented a new van while my '92 Toyota pickup was getting some work done, and I hated almost everything about the van. Electric windows. Electronic fob ignition. Clicking the fob and opening ALL the doors as I approached the van in the parking lot.
I like roll-up windows. I like having a key on my keychain that unlocks the door and turns in the ignition. I want to open one door at a time, thanks very much.
Any suggestions? I’d like to get an extended cab pickup, 1/2 ton or so, or a small-to-medium SUV.

1998 should be far back enough, or you could look at commercial vehicles.

You’ll want to find a F150XL but even that trim could be ordered with the doodads such as keyless entry and power windows/locks. They do exist without the doodads but i suspect most dealers only keep a few on hand at a time.

The Toyota Tacoma SR or the basic Chevy Colorado would also fit the bill but aren’t 1/2 ton trucks.

I have the electronic key fobs for my 2009 Dodge. Hate them; I’ve been through several fobs in the year or so that I’ve owned the car.

Put me down as well for a return to a good ol’ metal key. Never had one of those fail me.

And they still work if your wife accidentally launders them.

Depends on how MANY electronic doo-dads you are trying to avoid. Power operated goodies have been around in volumes since the 80’s. Fuel injection has been uiversal since about '92 and electronic ignition since 1975. So do you want a carb and points ignition?? Or just manual locks and windows?

I’d suggest doing a search of all the offerings to find a model that has keyless entry as an option and then see if they’ll order you one because you will not find one on the lot since most people want all that stuff.

I personally haven’t had manual locks since my '89 Chevy Suburban.

If you really don’t like these convenient things then you also should throw away the television remote - disconnect the garage door opener if you have one-don’t use the presets on your vehicle radio.

The remote doors can be set to open all doors or just the drivers door with one push and two pushes for the other doors. Maybe you should attend a classic car auction and buy a 1950’s restored vehicle.

Make mine another vote for good old-fashioned keys.
I, for one, am tired of “FOBs” for $145 that don’t stand the test of time. My own key, with the FOB integrated into the head, wore through its outer membrane in about five years. The plastic them came apart and the metal key piece fell out. Now I have the FOB portion covered in a balloon (I call it a membrane) with a physical key hanging next to it. I use my valet key for my daily use. I lost my second main key, and refuse to pay the outrageous cost of a replacement.

There are aftermarket replacements for the housing and buttons. I replaced one for my GM and popped in a new battery, too. Replaced one Ford FOB housing the same way. Here is a sight that specializes in these things for pretty cheap money.

I’m curious as to how cheaply a Toyota Corolla could be sold if manufactured without the air bags, remote locks, electronic theft proof keys, tire pressure sensor system, traction control, etc.

As I have stated several times on this forum, if buying a car required 20% down and 24 months to pay it off there would be a vast difference in the cars being offered for sale.

How many “electric or electronic dodads” should we eliminate? I liked the simple starting system on my 1947 Pontiac and 1950 Chevrolet pickup. Stepping on the starter pedal pushed the starter drive into the flywheel and closed the switch to activate the starter. Hence, there was no solenoid or relay to go wrong. The ignition switch was a lot simpler. My dad would argue that an electric starter complicates things–why not a hand crank to start the engine? My 1947 Pontiac had a radio. That was an accessory in the old days that just taxed the electrical system. It also had a clock which never told the correct time. Let’s not forget the heater with a blower fan–why not just use a lap robe to keep warm?
My point is this? How far back do you want to go for simplicity? All is relative.
I bought a new 2011 Sienna. It had power doors. I didn’t see the need for this until I had to transport people with physical challenges. I made sure the 2017 I purchased last month had this feature. The 2011 allowed me to link my smartphone to the audio system. This is the first thing I did when. I got the 2017. My 1990 Ford Aerostar had rear air conditioning. I wouldn’t buy a minivan without this feature. Every vehicle I owned before my 1971 Ford Maverick had simple vacuum wipers. I now wouldn’t want a car that didn’t have electric wipers.
I have hard time drawing the line. I recently rented an SUV. It had the start/stop engine control. I only had the SUV for a day. I don’t know if I like this system or not. (The SUV was a Dodge Journey. I requested a Sentimental Journey, but the rental agent told me it had been checked out to Doris Day).
Now I thought I liked things as simple as possible. If it weren’t for Mrs. Triedaq, I would still be watching my tube type black and white Philco TV. I would have my window air conditioner instead of central air. Mrs. Triedaq would be using a square tub Maytag wringer washer (well, it beats a scrub board) instead of the automatic washing machine we now have. However, I don’t want to replace this top loader with the newer front loader,.so last January I paid $275 to have our 25 year old machine repaired.
All is relative and everyone must draw his or her own line as to what modern features are worthwhile.

many used car lots will sell older cars, and toss in a free “GET OFF MY LAWN” sign…


I don’t understand how you guys are going through fobs so fast. Mine are 10 years old and the only thing wrong with the one I always use is that the silver paint has worn off of the buttons and they’re white now.

BTW, you can launder most fobs just fine. The electronic bits are encased in a waterproof shell - on some you can even see the o-ring when you take it apart to replace the battery.

$0, because air bags have been mandated by law since 1997. :wink:

A '57 Chevy Bel Air cost $2290 in 1957. The base model got you 140hp, seat belts, and a steering column that had a slightly less-than-usual chance of impaling you through the heart in a crash. If you wanted power steering, power brakes, air conditioning, or a radio, you had to pay extra. If you wanted a second speaker for that radio option, you had to pay even more.

That’s 20 grand today.

A 2018 Chevy Cruze costs $17,8500 for the base model which comes standard with 145hp, airbags, TPMS, a 6-speed manual, power steering, power antilock brakes, AM/FM stereo with bluetooth audio streaming and a 7 inch touch screen compatible with your smart phone… AND 4 speakers, a wifi hotspot, power windows, locks, keyless entry, alarm, engine immobilizer, Onstar, air conditioning including rear air ducts, automatic headlights, etc etc etc.

So really, I would argue that all the mandated safety equipment plus standard luxuries has not, at least in all cases, increased the price of the car.


Everything is relative @shadowfax, and my perspective on car value always seems to fall back on minimum wage. In 1965 the minimum wage was $1.25 which working full time totaled $2,400/ year and a new stripped down Mustang then was $2,400. But now in 2017 the minimum wage is $7.50 which is $15,600 annually while the 2017 base model Mustang is $29,000. So the car price relative to minimum wage has doubled.

But in 1965 car loans were usually limited to 24 months with interest rates at 5-6%.

Well, certainly if you want to get into wage stagnation that’s another story.

But wage stagnation means that car at the same inflation-adjusted price is less affordable than it was before we got screwed on wages.

But the solution to that isn’t to strip down cars to make them cheaper, it’s to address the wage stagnation problem, which is beyond the scope of this forum. :wink:

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At the time there were none, at least for my key. I looked.

Rod, when I bought my first new car it was about 25% of average gross annual income nad two year loans were normal. I don’t think they even offered three year loans.
Now, a comparable new car would cost about 50% of average gross annual income, and six year loans are normal.

We had what you suggest. And it got all screwed up… for a myriad of reasons, none of which the buying public had anything to do with.

The case on the Fob for my 98 Pathfinder broke after about 10 years. I replaced the case for less then $5.

I really like the keyless system my wifes 07 Lexus has. No more fumbling for keys. Real pain during the winter months when juggling a laptop and a briefcase wearing gloves…or waiting for a wife to fumble through her pocketbook trying to find her keys. Just touch handle when the Fob is somewhere on you…and the door(s) unlock. Then press brake pedal and press start button. Easy.

The Fob is on it’s third battery (just replaced last month).

The second best is my Highlander which has key/fob combo. No separate pieces. All one.

I haven’t used a key to unlock a car door in over a decade.

How about an ex-fleet use Sierra 1500 or F-150

We have plenty of those in our fleet, and they all have vinyl seats, manual windows and locks. They do all have ac and power steering, though

I have no idea where you’re located, but there are several auctioneers that specialize in selling ex-fleet vehicles to the public

A neighbor had a 1968 Chevrolet 1/2 ton stepside that had been on the family farm since new. It was totally original, 6 cylinder 3 speed with no options. I tried to buy it but he wasn’t interested then one day it disappeared. He said someone drove up with a bundle of cash that he couldn’t refuse. And I thought my offer was generous.

Be sure to tell car salesmen you encounter during your look-a-bout why you won’t be buying one of their new models; and the reason you are instead opting for a used truck. The more they hear that message, the more likely manufactures will make available models with what features you want, and not what you don’t.