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Spot the difference - Young drivers first cars!

Chloe Martell profile

Chloe Martell

July 31, 2020

Owning a car 6 min read

If you’re a young driver who has recently got on the road, you’ll likely be used to a whole host of different tech in your car. Even basic cars these days have things like keyless entry and built-in screens that give us everything from music to maps. Well, when your parents were your age and getting on the road and into their first cars, the tech was a little different. Let’s say… non-existent?! We’re spotting the differences in the first cars young drivers have today, vs the ones they had in the 80s and 90s. 

The Smart Key

Even the simplest of tasks have been made simpler over the years. Up until around the late 70s, you would have to put your key in the car to unlock it. In the 80s came Keyless entry meaning you could now press a button on your keys to get in. Fast forward a few years and these days some cars don’t need a key at all. In 2018 Tesla scrapped the key altogether and gave you the option to unlock your car with an app on your phone!

Onboard diagnostics (OBD)

These days if there is an issue with your car, it pretty much tells you about it. Now you may not know what all of the symbols and lights on the dashboard mean straight away, but a quick flick through your car handbook will tell you and as a young driver, this is a lifesaver! It makes you wonder how people ever coped without it? Well, it wasn’t until 1996 that OBD was made compulsory in cars. Before then if your car wasn’t starting you would have 3 things to check – your fuel line, spark plugs and air filter. If after checking these your car still wouldn’t start you’d likely have to call in the professionals. Things like checking your oil and coolant levels were all manual too. These days, we just wait for our car to tell us!

Rearview camera

Believe it or not, reversing cameras were first featured in a concept car in 1956! However, the technology didn’t actually make it to mainstream cars until the year 2000. The cameras were later combined with parking sensors to give you a clearer view of what was happening outside of your car and high-end models have cameras positioned all around the car to create a 360-degree birds-eye view of surroundings to help you when reversing and parking. This tech sure does help it’s just not to be relied on, it’s still advised that you do your own visual checks around the car when performing manoeuvres, just like your parents did when they got their first cars!

Bluetooth integration

Now I don’t know about you, but I can’t imagine getting into my car and it not automatically connecting to my Spotify – it would make for one very dull road trip! Bluetooth integration wasn’t introduced until 1999/2000 and even then it took a good few years for it to branch out into different car models. Today, Bluetooth capability in a car is pretty much standard but in the years leading up to the introduction, you pretty much had to rely on the radio, CDs or even cassette tapes!

GPS Satellite navigation

Driving with a Sat Nav has become second nature to young drivers – which is why it was added into the driving test in 2017! In fact, some young drivers (cough, me) are so used to relying on a Sat Nav to get to places they haven’t been before that they’d be lost without one… excuse the pun! But before this handy feature came into cars, young drivers would have to rely on… maps. No, not Google maps, actual maps! You would either trust your passengers to tell you where you needed to go and hoped they were keeping on top of it, or try to memorise the route yourself. In 1997 Alpine introduced their first version of a pop-out CD-ROM stored map navigation system which used GPS satellites. Over the next couple of years, the evolution of GPS in cars was ground-breaking. These days, young drivers tend to either have a screen and Sat Nav built into the cars, or they’ll put their map up on their phone and use it as a portable Sat Nav!

There are so many other developments that young drivers’ cars have seen over the years which are a far cry from the cars young drivers had in the 80s and 90s and most of them have been made to make driving easier, safer and more reliable for young drivers! Tech has come a long way. I wonder what will be next…

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Chloe Martell profile

By Chloe Martell

'As a new driver, I'm so eager to share my driving journey with you all - from when I was a learner, going through my test and all the aspects of my driving life now, including my love of cars!'  See more posts by Chloe

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