Blog : Gadgets and accessories keep your smoker up to date

The car industry’s quest for tech is moving forwards at an incredible rate. Built in TVs, iPod players, key-less entry and tons of other great inventions are common in luxury cars, yet it takes some time for them to feed down to the cars we can all actually afford. Yet there are some gadgets and accessories you can get to bring your own car more in line with the times.

Keeping occupied is a challenge while driving. This is especially real for parents who do a lot of travelling with their children as it can be next to impossible to keep kids entertained for long hours. The natural solution to this was to get built-in TV screens which played movies and also functioned as basic games consoles. Great if you have an XJ-sized budget, but not so good for the rest of us. Thankfully, you can buy in car DVD players separately which will allow you to have these benefits without significantly upgrading your car.

iPods are incredibly common these days, and everybody has some form of mobile music system. And for many it’s a challenge to get these devices to play through car speakers. But a few simple accessories can solve this problem – grab a car-charger which will plug into the cigarette lighter and an FM broadcaster, or iTrip, which will allow you to pick up your iPod’s songs on FM. Or buy a stereo with built-in iPod compatibility – they start at well under £100 now.

Many modern cars also come with in-built navigation/infotainment systems. Nowadays, it’s possible to buy a Satnav that’s just as useful as the £2K option fitted to your new car. We’ve used them – TomTom, Garmin, Becker – all across Europe and lived to tell the tale. The stress they remove from your life is immeasurably great.

It is easy to envy new cars full of fancy bells and whistles, but with some thoughtful accessorising it’s possible to add some great, practical features to your old car/classic/smoker/banger-mobile (we all have our own names for them). The best thing is that these add-ons tend to be affordable and pale into insignificance compared with the average depreciation bill on a new car. So if you feel the need to get with the times, accessorise your existing car rather than buying a new one.

Keith Adams
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  1. In 2008, I equipped my 1997 MR2 with a double-DIN SatNav system from Kenwood – then the Mitsubishi Delica I had around the same time, I kitted out with a Pioneer unit, without satnav, and a Commodore 64.

    TomToms are better than the experiences I had with Citroën’s integrated system.

    However, aren’t we all forgetting how to drive and navigate as a result?

  2. Case in point – that Saab 900. A half decent Sony head unit with aux-in (prob £100 Halfords) came with the car, along with some in-dash speaker replacements. I added to that a pair of used JBL 6x9s to the back (cash converters, £15), a pair of 12″ subs in a box, and a 1000w amp from ebay (£40).

    Alright so the subs and amp won’t have been to everybody’s taste, but the point is that for really not very much cash (and about 3 hours work) we had a terrific sounding system more than capable of pumping out whatever dub / hip-hop / reggae / mashups DJ TLK decided to educate us with each day of the rally, all of which was held on a tiny Samsung MP3 player with the sort of capacity you’d have needed to install a Kenwood 200-CD jukebox in your boot to achieve only about ten years ago. In a 25 year old car.

    It proved excellent at drowning out the sound of the knackered gearbox too.

  3. “everybody has some form of mobile music system”….I don’t – apart from the wireless in the car dashboard……

  4. I do believe that the late Sir Alec Issigonis commented that music on the move distracts from the art of driving .
    At for DVD screens , why not tell the kids to look out of the window instead !

  5. The vehicle manufacturers really do know how to charge for accessories, especially combined Radio, TV, DVD and GPS systems.

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