These days, cars have become super customizable from the factory. Most people spend hours on online configurators combining colours, wheels, interior materials and even pedantic stuff like the stitching on the leather. In your grandpa’s day, there were probably 3 trim options and that was about it. Items that were once considered luxurious and the height of fashion are now considered old fashioned, but to your grandpa, these are still extremely desirable. That said, let’s get started.

Boring Colors

With dozens of colours on offer, car buyers are often overwhelmed when the time comes to choosing the right shade for their new vehicle. Metallic, pearl or even matte finishes are common, and manufacturers are keen to offer a wide variety of choices. Whilst many of us might go for blue, gun metal grey or red, a surefire way of knowing that your car is grandpa spec is that it’s in a dull and non-descriptive silver, white or beige. These colours are usually no-cost options on most cars and although they might make your vehicle look like a cheap rental, most grandpas have probably grown out of the wacky colours of their youth. Sensible is the name of the game here, so if your car is one of these colours, it might be a sign.

Engine Choice

If your grandpa was to buy a new car, what engine would he choose? A 5-litre V8, a high-compression turbocharged unit or a modern diesel with loads of torque? Not likely. Unless your grandpa is a retired racing driver, chances are he will choose something sensible. Not too big or powerful to be fast, but not too slow either, like a wannabe boy racer buying the cheapest 1.4 Audi their first paycheck will afford!

Of course, since your grandpa might be stuck in the `70s, diesel engines are out of the question. In his day, diesel was only made for tractors. Also, turbochargers are considered almost witchcraft; highly unreliable and potentially dangerous! A good-old naturally aspirated 1.6, 1.8 or 2-litre petrol engine with modest output is a sure sign of grandpa spec. To some senior citizens, hybrid technology can be tempting, only because it comes with a mandatory automatic transmission and the promise of excellent fuel economy.

Base Model Specification

Since all modern cars come with decent standard equipment like power windows, basic infotainment, climate control and so on, this will be more than enough for your Grandpa. In his day, having an airbag and a radio was considered a luxury! No sports packages, lowered ride height, aggressive spoilers or carbon trim allowed. If your car is a regular middle or low-spec version with all the other features of this list, it might be Grandpa spec!

Manual or regular automatic

If you’re thinking like your grandpa, your car won’t have a DCT auto box. Too complicated, too advanced and not smooth enough for him. No, your Grandpa is much more likely to choose a good old manual or classic four or 5-speed automatic if available. Why bother with DTC, paddle shifters or 8-speed units when you can have a regular manual or automatic free of charge? Since you’ve already got an economy-spec four-cylinder engine, it makes no sense optioning for a more advanced automatic.

Small wheels

Your grandpa learned to drive on cars with 13 or 14-inch wheels which were actually a “normal” size for that generation. In fact, if your granddad owned a Mini which a lot of people did, especially in Britain, he would have had 10-inch wheels; I’ve seen shopping trolleys with wheels larger than that! 19 and 20-inch wheels are just out of this world to most grandpas, so 15 or 16-inch wheels will be more than enough! Whilst smaller wheels can negatively affect handling and driving feel, it does increase ride comfort tremendously. Even more so, does your car have basic steel wheels with plastic wheel hubcaps? If so, it might be Grandpa spec.

Personalized License Plates

In the UK and America, personalized license plates are a big deal. The combination of letters and numbers with a specific meaning is considered prestigious and valuable, with some even selling for millions. That said, there’s nothing that says “retirement gift to me” quite like a brand-new car with a personalized license plate.

Usually, retirement plates aren’t the ones that go for millions, with the far more affordable initials-based plates being most common. In the UK, license plates are private property and can be transferred between vehicles or sold, which leads to the situation of cool combinations being worth serious money, but the majority of plates loosely spell someone’s name or initials. These go for a few hundred pounds. That said, on some rare occasions, the license plate is worth more than the car!

Cloth interior

Although cloth was once considered more luxurious than leather (in old Rolls Royce’s, leather was for the driver, cloth was for the back seat passengers), most manufacturers have abandoned cloth on all but their most basic models. Even though leather nowadays is pretty much available on every model and the majority of modern cars seem to have it as standard, cloth seats are a sure sign your car is “grandpa spec”. That said, other signs on the interior include beige dashboards, beige headlining, beige leather seats and most importantly walnut trim. All of these items were once considered the height of luxury, but have fallen out of favor amongst the modern crowd.