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First car in your parents day vs your day?

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We Are Marmalade

January 31, 2018

News Owning a car 7 min read

Mum and Dad may hark back to the good old days, but were they really as good as they seem? Yes – they probably had better taste in music and more eccentric choices of hairstyles but when it comes to cars, who’s really got it better? We’ve looked at a new car today vs a 1980s car that Mum or Dad may have driven.

1980s car1980

General driving

The younger generation will probably have no idea how driving feels without having power steering (which is good, because parking and manoeuvres were a workout!).

Your parents probably had to rely on the trusty ‘choke’ whilst waiting for their engine to heat up – doing a hill start on a cold morning meant pulling the choke out fully to try and prevent you stalling! Luckily, young drivers today are unlikely to have to experience this as it’s all automated today!

Heating and cooling cars of the time was also hit and miss. Air-con wasn’t commonplace and windscreen de-misting was a lot less efficient meaning getting going on a cold morning probably took a lot longer than it does today.First car in your parents day vs your day?


In the 1980s, there were no rear seatbelts and no airbags! Needless to say, safety within the decade wasn’t at its best – with each year having more than 5,000 deaths on the road. Even with this statistic, it didn’t become compulsory to have rear seat belts until 1991, and airbags in 1998!


Well, 1980s cars had minimal onboard entertainment, but if you were lucky you would have a radio/tape deck in your car! To stop the precious radio being stolen many drivers used to take the whole radio out – as you were unlikely to get much in the way of alarm systems on your first hatchback!

As for getting directions your mum or dad probably had to plan their journey beforehand using a trusty old map, and the only traffic update they would get would be either a radio announcement – or a queue of red taillights ahead! If you got lost, you’d have to find a safe place to pull over and try and memorise a route to get back on track.

What else?

  • There weren’t as many warning lights, so if you had a problem – you would be stumped as to what the problem is! And you certainly couldn’t plug it in at a garage to find out what’s wrong with it – if you didn’t know what it was, the garage would need to take a good look under the bonnet.
  • Arguably, less entertainment and the lack of mobile phones meant fewer distractions, so whilst your parents may have missed out on the on-site tech – it meant you could concentrate on your driving.
  • Your insurance quote was based the risk data for all young drivers, so premiums could be high for the time. Young drivers these days can have black box technology in their car, so their premiums can reflect how they drive, rather than young drivers in general!
  • Cars in the 1980s would generally run on leaded petrol, which created more pollution in the environment.

Modern carsFirst car in your parents day vs your day?

General driving

Power steering and hill start assist have sorted problems from the 80s of worrying if the car is going to get going, and how much hard work it would be to drive into a parking space! We can now do these things with ease, and it’s hard to imagine driving without them.

As well as combatting some driving issues from 3 decades previous, we have so many more features to help our driving journey. Cruise control, built in Satnav and lane keeping aid to name a few. Car’s these days even have parking assistance, which will park the car for you!


It goes without saying, safety has improved monumentally over the last 30 years or so. Airbags and seat belts are standard, and many cars these days come with so many more safety features than we knew we needed. Advanced systems for more controlled braking, warning lights when you brake sharply and warnings if you lose tyre pressure.  Of course, you are the one who needs to ensure that you and your passengers are safe, but these extra bits of safety definitely come in helpful.First car in your parents day vs your day?

The Euro NCAP test was launched in 1997, which rated every car out of 5 on how safe they were on the roads – 5 being the best. This was the first time we could establish how cars would perform in an accident, without being involved in one.

These safety features have definitely helped to keep us safe, as in 2016 there were 1,792 reported road deaths in the UK. Still quite a large number, but over 60% less than we were seeing in the 80s!


I mean cars these days really do have everything we could hope for, and more! We’ve got Bluetooth, music, films for passengers and so much more. Granted, we probably don’t need all of this tech, but journeys are a lot more relaxed and enjoyable when we do! At least we don’t have to flip tapes over anymore, ay?

What else?

  • If there is a problem with your car, all it generally takes is one plug into a computer at the garage to find out what’s wrong! It may not be easier to fix, but at least problems are often easier to diagnose.
  • Black box technology allows young drivers to have more control over the cost of insurance as it can be based on how you drive. Drive well, pay less at renewal!
  • You can now rely on electricity as well as fuel to run your car, and the popularity of hybrid cars is giving more charging points up and down the country! Better for the planet and less worry about when you can stop for fuel, just pop your car on charge to keep you going.
  • Satnavs are now a part of the driving test, which just shows that we’re keeping up with the times in not only what we drive, but how we learn.

Which do you prefer?

It seems that new cars are making great improvements, not only for driving comfort but also for safety! If you want to get your hands on a brand new car, we’ve got you covered!

Are you in love with everything new cars have to offer or are you a sucker for the classic car? Head over to our Facebook page to let us know!

Cars for Young Drivers→

Check out our range of brand new cars and finance offers to suit you!

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By We Are Marmalade

'We champion young drivers with award-winning low cost insurance for learner and new drivers and a great young drivers' car scheme.'  See more posts by We Are

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