Automakers will do anything to add value to their cars, even if that addition doesn't make a lot of sense. And as for the aftermarket, forget it; any weirdo who sees any sort of unfulfilled niche will create something – anything, really, – to fill that gap. Take, for example, these four ridiculous extras. Some make sense, some are questionable, but they're all pretty crazy.
#1) Fiat's Cappucino Machine
Leave it to the Italians, who love their coffee, to come up with the idea of installing a cappuccino maker into one of their cars. It's not quite the machine you see at your local Starbucks, fortunately, since that involves using two hands. This uses coffee pods, not unlike those you find in a Keurig, and is intended to be used by the passenger. On the other hand, it still involves scalding water near a driver, which just seems like a bad idea, and we've got to question how something steaming and fuzzing doesn't contribute to distracted driving (auto insurance companies beware!) Obviously designed for the Italian market, it's unlikely that this will ever come to the US. But it'll be all over Europe by the end of 2013.
#2) The Highway Hi-Fi
As hard as it is to believe, the Highway Hi-Fi was not only real, but for a while it was widely considered the new wave in portable music. But its problems ultimately sunk it. Of course you couldn't just jam any record in there: you had to buy special ones. And, needless to say, something as fragile as a record player was hard to keep up in the midst of a car's typical daily grind. It didn't help that these hi-fis were specially engineered with counterweights and other spare parts that broke easily and both scratched records and made repairing them a chore. Although the record players were popular, Chrysler got sick of fixing them while they were under warranty, and the Highway Hi-Fi had to hit the road.
#3) Alpine's Overkill
Alpine is an electronics manufacturer, in case you hadn't guessed. And yes, it was expensive: this Honda Civic cost $250,000 to reengineer into this... does "eyesore" sound judgmental? Good, because we're trying to be.
And this aftermarket add-on, amidst all the craziness, needs to be singled out because you might notice that there's not actually any gauges for the driver to read. All of that is handled instead by those five screens you see in front of the driver. One of them is a GPS, which seems handy enough. Others fill in for other gadgets and gauges. The one for playing the Nintendo GameCube, on the other hand, seems just a wee bit excessive.
#4) The Car Message Sign
Thankfully an aftermarket accessory, this does at least have a noble purpose. It's hard for drivers to clearly communicate with each other, and having some form of device to display text or gestures seems like something useful.
That’s only until you stop and consider how many people would program it to make rude gestures, spray profanity across the roadways, and otherwise act like even more of a tool than they already do.