Sure, we may need a car to get from point A to point B, but would we ever need our car to have an air purifier? How about leather interior ceilings? Or a bejeweled fuel cap? To those of us who are still chugging around in a bottom-of-the-line economy car, these amenities might seem utterly ridiculous. Some may gag at the idea of such excess and opulence. But don't be too quick to judge. After all, it wasn't too long ago that features like power locks and windows seemed reserved for the ultra-rich (and ultra-lazy). Now, not only do these come standard on most cars, but many feel they couldn't live without them.
We've assembled a few of the coolest and seemingly ridiculous amenities that can be incorporated into a car. Some make the ride more comfortable. And others -- let's face it -- are just for showing off. Either way, we can always drool and hope that some of these amenities will become popular and inexpensive enough that they'll trickle down to the rest of us.
Granted, mini built-in TVs are becoming more and more common as backseat babysitters in minivans for families with impatient kids. But the TVs we're talking about are meant for adults with chauffeurs. The quality of these TVs might surmount those you have at home. Take Bentley's Arnage RL, which includes not one, but two 15-inch, flat-screen LCD televisions -- one built into the back of each front seat.
And what's a TV without something to watch? As if built-in DVD players weren't enough, Rolls Royce even offers broadcast TV via an antenna that picks up the local signal [source: Grant]. Satellite radio company Sirius also started offering Sirius Backseat TV, a TV feed of various networks meant for viewing in the car.
Over-the-top Sound Systems
There's nothing like turning up the music in the car and rocking out to your favorite songs. But for some, this experience needs to be so powerful and high-quality that the minimum, factory-installed speakers are simply not enough. We've all been stopped at red lights next to a car equipped with a trunk full of speakers, exuding deafening bass and blasting music loudly enough to be heard hundreds of feet away in all directions.
But for those who want to keep the space in their backseats and trunks for groceries and suitcases instead of filling it with monolithic speakers, there are more luxurious options. Audi, for instance, offers a Bose surround sound system with 14 speakers, including a subwoofer. There's even a microphone that picks up on the noise level in the car so that it can automatically adjust the volume louder to compensate for background noise [source: Audi]. And, not to be outdone, Lincoln even started incorporating THX-certified (basically, movie-theater quality) audio systems in their luxury cars [source: CNet].
Expensive and Unique Paint Jobs
Every fashion-savvy woman knows that color-coordinating accessories are the key to a great ensemble. And, of course, well-chosen colors can express your personality. The same goes for your car. Those buying a 2009 Maybach 57 can request the color of the car to match a particular color of a purse, pair of shoes or just about anything else for nearly $20,450 on top of the price of the car [source: Edmunds].
Those with the money to get a Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano might also be interested in coughing up a cool $22,000 for a red paint job. But this isn't just any red: it's an exclusive Rossa Monza paint of deep red known as Rossa Corsa [source: Chapnick].
Those looking for less sport but more splash might be interested in Volvo's C30, which comes in the special print of your choice. While the option is available only in Sweden right now, stylish drivers can select a protective appliqué film with their choice of several designs. Whether you choose zebra print, rainbow strips or some other pattern, it'll cost you around $3,150 [source: Edmunds].
For those who can't wait until they get to the party to break out the champagne, many luxury cars come complete with coolers for chilling wine. The Bentley Arnage R includes a wine cooler behind the center armrest in the backseat [source: Chapnick]. Some models include a custom wood veneer cocktail cabinet attached to the back of the front seat. One model includes in this cabinet a complete set of shot glasses and flask [source: Stern].
These luxury carmakers have thought of everything -- even what to do with the champagne flutes between sips. To solve this dilemma, Bentley provides a foldout table as well. Maybach, who includes electric wine coolers in some of its models and provides champagne flutes to boot, has specially designed cupholders for champagne flutes [source: Valdes-Dapena]. We should note that these alcohol features are for the backseat exclusively, meant for those with enough money to hire a chauffeur to take care of the whole driving thing.
Massage and Climate-controlled Seats
Feeling stressed? Let the chauffeur take the wheel and you can relax in the reclining backseat. Still not relaxed enough? How about a shiatsu massage? No, this amenity isn't a beautiful Japanese masseuse in person, but it's the next best thing. How does a reclining backseat with massage capabilities sound? The backseat of the Lexus LS 600h L includes the option of a shiatsu or a shoulder massage, capabilities built into seats that function like electric massage chairs.
Have you ever gotten up from a car seat and had to peel yourself off the hot stickiness? Or frozen to your leather seat on a wintry day? Leather, despite all its luxuriousness, hardly ever seems to be a comfortable temperature. The people over at Cadillac have crafted a solution to this conundrum that has plagued the pampered for generations. With perforated leather, the seats of the 2008 STS Cadillac-V are ventilated with channels through which air can move, preventing the chair from getting uncomfortably hot [source: Grant, Cadillac]. The carmakers also incorporated heating units under that perforated leather for those cold days as well.
If you want to browse more lists of offbeat and bizarre oddities, take a look at the links on the next page.
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Related HowStuffWorks Articles
- Audi. "Audi A8." Audi of America. (Jan. 6, 2009) http://www.audiusa.com/audi/us/en2/new_cars/Audi_A8.html
- Cadillac. "STS Features & Options: STS Platinum" Cadillac.com. (Jan. 6, 2009). http://www.cadillac.com/cadillacjsp/model/po_package.jsp?model=sts&trim=STS%20Platinum& year=2009&package=&showAllStdOpt=all§ion=Interior
- Chapnick, Nate. "World's Priciest Car Options." Forbes Autos.com. April 17, 2008. (Jan. 6, 2009). http://www.forbesautos.com/advice/toptens/most-expensive-exotic-ultra-luxury-options-story.html? partner=fadc_ss_most_exp_exotic_lux_opt
- CNet. "2006 Car Tech Awards: Best Stereo System." CNet. (Jan. 6, 2009). http://reviews.cnet.com/4520-10846_7-6675898-1.html
- Edmunds. "2009 Maybach 57: Price with Options." Edmunds. (Jan. 6, 2009). http://www.edmunds.com/new/2009/maybach/57/101123297/options.html
- Grant, Kelli B. "Five-Star Amenities for Luxury Cars." SmartMoney. Aug. 15, 2007. (Jan. 6, 2009). http://www.smartmoney.com/spending/deals/five-star-amenities-for-luxury-cars-21682/?page=all
- Lienert, Anita. "Customization, Swedish Style: Volvo Rolls Out Zebra-Striped C30." Edmunds. April 8, 2008. (Jan. 6, 2009). http://www.edmunds.com/insideline/do/News/articleId=125508
- Stern, Perry. "End of Bentley Arnage." AutoTrader.com. Oct. 18, 2008. (Jan. 6, 2009). http://www.autotrader.com/research/article/auto-show/35255/end-of-the-bentley-arnage.jsp
- Valdes-Dapena, Peter. "Rolls-Royce vs. Maybach." CNNMoney.com. April 4, 2006. (Jan. 13, 2009). http://money.cnn.com/2006/03/22/Autos/carreviews/rolls_maybach/?cnn=yes