Cars With Hidden Secrets

You've always wanted to live in a house with a secret room hidden behind a revolving bookshelf. You know you have. But alas, houses with secret rooms really aren't that common, which means home builders clearly don't understand their market. What you can get, though, is a car that has a secret compartment. You can also get cars with handy little things stashed away inside those secret compartments, and with cute drawings in hidden places. Heck, forget all that other stuff, you can even get cars with James Bond features.

Yes, the auto industry has evidently become so competitive now that manufacturers aren't just doing battle on things like safety, interior sound quality, and 0-to-60-ness, they're also adding fun little gimmicks that may not really add much to the actual value of the car but that will add a whole lot to its conversation value. So if you're having a tough time deciding which car to put in your driveway, well, maybe one of these hidden secrets will help tip the scales for you. You're welcome.

It goes to 11

In the cult classic This is Spinal Tap, guitarist Nigel Tufnel shows his "very, very special" amplifier off to the cameras. "If you can see," he says as the camera zooms in, "the numbers all go to 11." When asked if that means the amp is louder than the typical only-goes-to-10 amp, he says, "Well, it's 1 louder, isn't it?"

Elon Musk, being the dedicated student of 1980s fringe culture that he is, decided to make the Tesla Model X volume control also go up to 11 because the only people who will actually be able to afford this car are the ones who actually remember This is Spinal Tap and spent most of their retirement savings at the Tesla dealership.

With a starting price roughly equal to the cost of an average home in Toledo, Ohio, Tesla's "family SUV" is really only for certain families, but if you can afford it and also if you are somehow able to encase your children in impenetrable bubbles so they don't spill things all over the inside of your costs-as-much-as-a-modest-home "family SUV," you'll own a car with loads of cool hidden features besides just the 11-point volume setting — according to the Guardian, you can also set up the autodrive display so it looks like Mario Kart's Rainbow Road, and you can switch the accelerator from "sport" function to "ludicrous." Sheesh, that's worth the cost of a modest home all by itself. Right?

Just in case what you actually wanted was James Bond's Lotus Esprit

The cool hidden features on the Model X aren't Elon Musk's first nod to popular culture. He also put a secret James Bond feature on the Model S, just in case what you really wanted was a James Bond Lotus Esprit submarine/car combo but you had to settle for a boring old Tesla instead.

Fun fact: According to Popular Science, Elon Musk actually owns the Esprit used in the Bond film The Spy Who Loved Me — he bought it at auction back in 2013. Perhaps he didn't want his customers to feel left out, though, so he had engineers add a function to the entertainment system of the Model S. If you hold down the "T" button, you'll get prompted for an access code. Type in "007" (of course) and go to the "Controls" section. The display will show a picture of the Lotus Esprit, instead of the Tesla you're actually sitting in, along with a drop-down menu that will let you select a depth up to 20,000 leagues. Presumably, most Tesla customers are smart enough to know that this is all just for fun, as we've been unable to locate reports of anyone actually trying to drive their Model S off a pier.

What does a Vauxhall Corsa have to do with a shark?

What do a shark and a Vauxhall Corse have in common? Nothing, really. But for some reason, there is a shark hidden on the inside of some Vauxhall Corsas. Not a real, actual shark, obviously, although that would be a super-cool hidden secret, provided the feeding and care instructions were included in the manual. This shark is actually a more low-maintenance kind, and it was placed there not under the direction of company executives but because interior designers wanted to see if they could get away with it. Or so the unsubstantiated rumors say.

The shark is printed on the side of one glove box hinge, and is only visible when you open up the glove box, and since you only do that like once a year to shove your new registration card inside, you might not even notice it. It also isn't on every model, either, just the 2004 version.

Apparently hiding sharks in car interiors is actually a thing — according to Car Keys, the Zafira Tourer MPV has three sharks, and the ADAM city car has a shark along with a couple of fish, you know, so the shark has something to eat for dinner.

The 2003 Ford GT has something hidden in a headlight

When Ford turned 100 years old in 2003, everyone was all, "hooray," because the 100-year birthday of a car company in a world of Suzukis, Saabs, Hummers, Pontiacs, and Saturns is really something to celebrate. We're sure there were loads of rowdy office parties (with designated drivers of course) to help ring in the next century of carmaking, but Ford also celebrated in other ways, too — most notably by designing an entire new car in honor of the centennial.

According to the San Diego Air & Space Museum, the Ford GT is based on the original Ford GT40 from the 1960s, although it's both wider and taller than its predecessor. Other than appearance, though, the two cars don't have a lot in common. The GT is super high-tech, with a whole lot of features that probably don't mean anything to you unless you're an ultra car-nerd, like a friction stir welded center tunnel, a "ship-in-a-bottle" gas tank, and an all-aluminum mid-mounted engine with Lysholm twin screw-type supercharger. For the rest of us, the GT also has a cool Easter egg — the left headlight cluster reads "100," just so no one forgets that the car is basically a very expensive birthday gift Ford gave itself.

This map is cool but don't try to use it

The Jeep Renegade is full of all sorts of fun Easter eggs — in fact according to Miami Lakes Auto Mall, there are more than 30 of them, which does feel like overkill quite frankly, but hey, Americans totally need extra reasons to buy off-road vehicles that they will never actually take off road.

One of the Jeep Renegade's hidden features might actually even address the problem of Americans never taking their off-road cars off road, or maybe it's just a minor way of guilting drivers into thinking to themselves, "I really ought to take this thing off road." Anyway, in the little tray where you toss your pens, change, and all the stupid little bits of Lego your kids leave all over the floorboards, there is a hidden relief map of the desert just outside of Moab, Utah. It's not a useful map or anything, so definitely don't try use it to navigate yourself through the Utah desert. Instead, mostly just avert your eyes whenever you're tossing your change or pens into that tray, lest it make you feel guilty about never doing anything more exciting than writing things down and picking Legos up off the floor.

Who cares about all that other stuff when you can have a secret compartment

Okay, so what about the secret compartments? Yes, you totally read this because you were promised secret compartments. Well, here you go: The 2013 Dodge Dart has a stash box under the passenger's seat, where you can hide whatever you think is worth hiding inside your Dodge Dart, like maybe your dignity.

So first we'll let you take a minute to process the part where Dodge actually resurrected the Dart, because what? If you haven't noticed the new Dart, it's because it looks nothing like it's older, humbler predecessor. It's a compact sedan, and it's really more of a new Neon than a classic Dart. Also, it's not exactly a well-reviewed car or anything — Motortrend called it "unrefined and thirsty." But again, it has a secret compartment under the passenger seat, so...

The cool thing about the Dodge Dart's secret compartment is that you don't have to get out of the car and walk around to the passenger side in order to rifle around in it. It's under the seat cushion, so you can just flip it open and dig, provided of course that no one is actually sitting in the seat at the time.

How about a hidden secret that's actually useful?

All these cute little visual Easter eggs are fun and all, but they don't seem to be especially useful other than as a way to strike up five minutes of conversation on an otherwise mind-numbing road trip. But there are some cars that actually have practical hidden Easter eggs. How revolutionary!

For example, you've probably had to scrape ice off your windshield with a credit card because you have no idea what the heck you did with the ice scraper that you're pretty sure was in your garage at some point before mid-spring of last year. Wouldn't it be handy if your car had its own ice scraper? Well, according to Skoda, the Octavia does — it's stashed in the fuel door. The very first time you use it you're probably going to be really pleased by the convenience and thoughtful design. The second time you use it, though, you're going to be all, "Crap, where the heck did I put the stupid ice scraper after I was done using it the first time?" And then you'll have to use a credit card again. So more of a one-shot use, but still, super-thoughtful.

How about sort of experiencing the thrill of Viking conquest, but not really?

So ethically and morally speaking, you can't exactly set sail in a Viking longboat anymore, unless you're not planning on slaughtering a bunch of medieval monks in an oceanside monastery. But then Volvo unveiled its S60 concept car, which was clearly designed to recapture some of the glory of Viking slaughter. Yes, we said "Volvo." As far as we know, the Volvo S60 concept car is about as close as any car will ever get to being a floating, wooden massacre-machine full of smelly bearded men with battle axes. That's because it has a couple of Viking longboats on board, though granted they are just images in its headlights.

According to the New York Times, the longboats were placed there because they're Scandinavian. "The concept car is dazzled with the adrenaline of modern Scandinavian design," Steve Mattin, Volvo's senior vice president of design, explained. "In the headlights, images of two miniature Viking longboats sail side by side."

Sadly, the longboats don't appear to have made it from concept to production, so if you really had your heart set on setting sail with smelly Vikings, you might have to build a longboat of your own and ask your friends to not bathe for a couple weeks.

Because you never really know when it's going to rain, no matter what Alexa tells you

An umbrella is the sort of thing you never really think about until you're standing in a torrential downpour. You probably don't keep one stashed in their car, and it's not like you pay that much attention to Alexa when she says it's going to rain today because that lady has no idea what she's talking about. So you probably get caught out in the rain on occasion, and if that's true you'll appreciate the Skoda Superb, which has an umbrella stashed in the rear passenger door. According to DriveSpark, the compartment that holds the umbrella is even cleverly designed to drain away all that water after you've folded up your wet umbrella and returned it to its place.

It is true that there are other cars with an umbrella compartment — the Rolls-Royce Phantom has one, and so does the Bentley Mulsanne. What makes the Skoda Superb unique is that you don't have to spend half a million to get a stupid little built-in umbrella.

Because who doesn't love spiders?

Also in the Jeep Renegade, there's a relief drawing of a spider on the inside of the fuel door. Its purpose is either to make you jump several feet into the air while covering yourself and others with flammable liquid the first time you see the stupid thing hiding right where your hand just was, or it's possibly alluding to the idea that the Jeep Renegade gets unnaturally awesome gas mileage. Because, you know, you have to refuel it so infrequently that spiders will build webs in there. We'll pause while you snort uncontrollably from all the hilarity.

Maybe that would be cute and clever and all if the thing actually did get awesome gas mileage, but according to the U.S. Department of Energy, the most recent incarnation of the Jeep Renegade gets around 24 mpg, which is pretty good compared to a Hummer from 1994 or something? But really, if you're looking for fuel economy in an off-road car that you're most definitely not going to take off road, you probably want to go with a hybrid SUV instead. Or you can spend as much as it costs to buy a modest house in Ohio, and go for full electric with the Tesla Model X because it totally has that weird Mario Kart thing that it does.

The 2014 Chevy Impala has a hidden gadget compartment

So a secret compartment under the seat is cool and all, but what you really want is a secret compartment that opens up when you push a button, because that's super cool and James Bond-y. The 2014 Chevrolet Impala has just such a thing — according to, it's located behind the touchscreen, which slides up to reveal a compartment that's just big enough for the basics, like your sunglasses, wallet, and phone.

That's cool if you want to hide that smaller stuff in your car while you run inside for a Starbucks or something, but not every reviewer thinks the Impala's secret compartment is as awesome as all that. One tester complained that bumping the opener button accidentally causes the navigation system to shut down, which can be really annoying when you know that exit is coming up but you're not sure which one it is. Also, if that happened to James Bond while he was trying to find the exit for Ernst Stavro Blofeld's evil lair, it would be super-embarrassing.

Now you can be a mobile billboard for a car company

If you own a car, you provide free advertising for the company that makes it every single time you get inside and drive from A to B. That's kind of obnoxious when you think about it, but what are you going to do, paint over the logo? Of course not, because if you like your car you probably kind of like the logo, too.

Now, Ford wants you to go even one step further and become a lighted billboard. Hooray? According to Car and Driver, newer model Ford Mustangs come equipped with a "pony projector," which is a light mounted on the mirror that projects the iconic Mustang logo onto the pavement when the doors are unlocked.

Now Ford likes to pretend that the pony projector is a super-helpful feature that altruistically provides you with light so you won't accidentally step in something nasty when you get out of the car, but if that were true it seems like it would just be a much broader spotlight rather than a very obvious advertisement for the Ford Mustang. But for some reason, it never occurs to Ford Mustang drivers that they're totally being used because the thing just looks so. Dang. Cool. Pretty sinister, Ford. Pretty sinister.

There's a spider in this storage compartment

And because car manufacturers don't seem to have figured out that people don't like spiders, the Volvo XC90 has a relief drawing of a spider on the inside of the third row storage compartment. Admittedly, the spider is kind of cute — it even appears to be smiling, and it's also sitting in a cool-looking orb web. But a spider, really? You couldn't have made it like a puppy or Iron Man or something?

According to Jalopnik, the vice president of "Vehicle Line 90" didn't like the way the storage compartment was originally designed, so he came up with the spider idea because everyone knows how much kids like spiders and how much they don't like puppies or Iron Man. Frankly, the better feature this car has isn't the dumb spiders, it's the third row safety features — the XC90 has reinforced seats, fixed headrests, extended curtain airbags, and high-tech seatbelts. But sure, focus on the dumb spiders in the storage compartments instead.