Cassette Player Cupholder Is A Useful But Risky Idea

The cup was invented in 1570 BC. Despite this, infuriatingly, the cupholder didn’t become common in the automotive world until the early 2000s. Cars built in the years PCH (pre-cupholder) typically also had tape decks. Noticing this relationship, [thephatmaster] designed this useful cassette-deck cupholder accessory.

The design is simple, consisting of a 3D printed ring with a tab that neatly slides into an automotive stereo’s cassette slot. The design does require that the tape deck be empty prior to inserting the cup holder. Given that few cassette players from that era still work, this isn’t much of a drawback. Of course, if you really do need tunes, it wouldn’t be too difficult to integrate a Bluetooth cassette adapter into the printed design.

[thephatmaster] uses the cupholder in a Mercedes W202, and has posted a special inclined version to suit this model. The creator also notes that using it on vehicles like the Mercedes W210 can be a risk. The cupholder typically places the beverage directly above the transmission lever, where any spills can damage switches or other important electronics. Also, the cupholder isn’t designed to work with vertical tape decks, though modification for this layout may be possible.

This build may look silly or pointless to some. But if you’ve ever tried to pull a U-turn in an old manual car while precariously cradling a steaming latte between your legs, you’ll clearly see the value here. It only has to save one pair of pants before it’s paid for itself.

We’ve seen some other creative cupholder hacks before too, like this nifty laptop holder. If you’ve whipped up your own nifty car hacks, send them into the tipsline.

36 thoughts on “Cassette Player Cupholder Is A Useful But Risky Idea

  1. Pretty sure the cup was invented long long before 1570 BC, gonna need a citation on that assertion. Heck they were building the great pyramids around 2500BC, and definitely had pottery in the pre-dynastic period 2000 years before that. The cup was probably invented sometime in pre-history and probably started out as a hollowed out dried gourd.

  2. “typically places the beverage directly above the transmission lever, where any spills can damage switches or other important electronics” – that kinds of says it all. There are lots of good ways to add cup holders to old cars. This isn’t one I’d pick.

    1. Here’s an addition to his idea that’d make it more useful: cassette mounting, with a two axis gimbal that the cup sits in. That way no matter how hard you turn, the cup will always be parallel to perceived down. Much less likely to spill.

  3. What you really want (need) is an auxiliary tank to hold your drink inside the glove compartment, with a retractable hose so you can bong beers while texting and driving. Add another tank to hold your urine, and a pee sprayer for defense.

    1. Old cars didn’t have cupholders, they had ashtrays. Mine has an ashtray in the centre console behind the handbrake. Pop out the ashtray insert (they are always removable, for cleaning) and a coffee cup drops straight in. Some ashtray slots may need a 3d printed adapter.

  4. “if you’ve ever tried to pull a U-turn in an old manual car while precariously cradling a steaming latte between your legs”

    Safe driving means keeping both hands on steering wheel…

    “old manual car”

    Yeah right…

  5. @Lewin Day – Where in the world are you? Early 2000s? I vaguely remember in the early part of the 1980s when I was very young having cup holders that had to shut into the car window because the car did not come with them. It seems like just about every car I’ve been in since then came with cupholders starting some time in the 80s up until I experienced my wife’s love of German cars. Her BMW has no cupholder. She told me they aren’t legal in Germany, anyone here from Germany to confirm or deny that? If true does that mean one is not allowed to drink even non-alcoholic drinks while driving? Or just no convenient built in cupholders?

    1. Cupholders became common before the 2000’s.

      It was a running joke in the late 80’s and early 90’s that Chrysler’s main improvement year to year for the Minivan was adding more cup holders. This worked until Honda and Toyota made significant inroads into the market.

      I do remember the cupholders that hooked into the doors. They worked brilliantly in a Ford LTD station wagon… ah memories

      A quick google search to make sure my memory was correct turned up two interesting articles (I’m not sure how to make them links in the comments)

    2. I was gonna mention that style if nobody else did, yeah they had a flat plate hook which went down the side of your door window and often were fold out from there, so you could collapse them flat when not using. I maybe still have one somewhere.

      Another type was a small console box with a floppy rubber mat with spikes underneath “foot” that sat on your transmission tunnel or between seats wherever it would fit, had a cubby for trash or storage and a couple of cupholders. You could also get styles to sit as center armrest/console/cubby in the middle of a front bench seat.

      I think also there were some that hooked in your air vents like modern cellphone holders.

    3. You’re allowed to drink alcohol while driving in Germany as long as you stay under the legal limit and don’t appear drunk.
      Volkswagen has cupholders since quite some time ( around 2000 maybe? ) my friends BMW i523 (2003?) had cupholders but they were non-reliable.
      I always squeezed the drinks between the handbreake is most of my cars. Barely spilled anything there. And if i spilled something it went directly under the seat anyways.
      Much better then having half a litre of milkshake smashing against the windscreen and then flowing in the vents just you drove a bit too competetive.

  6. I’m really missing the days of finding vehicles as described. The “Cash for Clunkers” government buyback program a few years back in the US took most of the old cars out of circulation. It really took a toll on those less well-off, removing the cheapest vehicles, and driving up the prices on what remained. It also prevented those vehicles from ending up in local junkyards, which makes parts harder to find for the DIYer.

    1. The CFC program took less than 700K vehicles total (with poor fuel efficiency profiles) off the roads. Compared to ~15 million new cars being sold every year.

      Saying that “US took most of the old cars out of circulation” would be false, since many old cars didn’t even qualify because they where too fuel efficient.

      The claim that they “prevented those vehicles from ending up in local junkyards” is also false. While the (sad to see) the engines were destructively disabled (basically put sand in them and run them until it turns to glass), the vehicles could go to junkyards and the remaining parts (including other drive train parts like transmission, diffs, axles) could be sold off or salvaged to repair remaining vehicles.

      1. CFC took a large chunk of 88-95 efi obd1 pickup trucks out of circulation quick, too quick for all of my local salvage yards to do anything with them, they all got crushed as fast as they could. They were stacked 6 tall and filled half of my local pick a part all i got that wasn’t destroyed by stacking them was one tailgate. And 100% of them were nicer than the trucks i was driving at the time with lower miles than mine. It only took rich peoples 3rd car that they only used to haul trash to the dump 4 times a year off the road. Killing the $800 100,000 mile used truck that is the staple of my fleet.

  7. I really don’t understand moderm cars and drivers. When you drive a car you’re supposed to look at the road and keep your hands on a steering wheel, not drink hot caffe and watch movies on your in-car entertainment system. Besides, what’s the point of drinking caffe alone in your car? Drinking caffe is a social ritual.

    1. Keep you awake to look at the road ;) . And only one hand on the steering wheel usually.

      We had cup holders back in the 80s, and my ‘oldest’ vehicle is a ’97 pickup with cup-holders.

      1. As a side note on my RAM truck, the two cup holder is high in the middle of the dash (above the radio) which ‘we’ thought was ‘very’ nice convenience. Push the holder into dash when not in use for a clean looking dash. Didn’t have to take eyes off road to pick up cups as fully visible, and not within elbow reach between us. I have not seen that placement since. Other side note, we probably still have some of those clip to the door cup holders you used to buy back when.

    2. I’m guessing that for you work and groceries are both only a bus stop away. It’s not like that everywhere.

      When you have to get up before the sun and drive 1/2 hour or more to work you might want a bit of caffeine to keep you alert. Long weekend or vacation trips are also much more pleasant if you can bring a beverage.

      At least where I am from playing movies where the driver can see them is a very big ticket although you can play them in the back for the kids if you want. So that part just sounds to me like a strawman.

  8. I’m with [Martin] above. Food and drink have no place in an automobile. For driver OR passengers. It’s not just the attention and the hazard, it’s the mess. A spilled latte smells awful after a couple of days, and nearly impossible to really get clean. Filthy humans.

    1. It must be pretty convenient to work from home and get everything delivered by amazon and doordash. The rest of us in the real world do this thing called commuting, often before and after sunset, in inclement weather. If you can’t handle a cup of coffee in a vehicle without autopilot and an infotainment system, I DO NOT want to be on the same road.

      1. My commute is only ~15 minutes, so just drive to work (no drink, no food). But on trips across country that is another matter. That’s where the cup holders come in handy. Only 600 mites to go. There yet, only 300 miles to go, there yet? … Messes can be cleaned up. It happens. Have kids it ‘will’ happen :) . So it goes. Only a vehicle, not a museum.

        1. Yes, car is just a tool, not a museum, but it’s not about mess, it’s about distractions, and it’s about bad habits. On a daily commute you don’t need coffee, and on a long trip bottle is a lot easier to drink from without looking away from the road.
          And when you’re on a cross country trip, you probably have wife/husband/mistress on a seat next to you who can get you a bottle when you need it.
          Finally, when you need a coffee, you can stop in some bar, coffee is not just a drink, it is a social event.

      2. I used to do 3-hour commutes twice a week for years. Never used a cupholder once.
        And in 60 kid-years of schlepping them around for sports and school, they never needed a cupholder either, because they knew how dumb it was to eat or drink in a car. They were raised to be civilized humans.

      3. Yes, for the last five years I work from home, but for two decades before that I used a car or train to get to work, and I still use a car to do weekly shopping, or take a child to school when it rains or snows. If you can’t sit in you car for one hour without constantly sipping a coffee in yourself, you have a problem that won’t be fixed with a cupholder. And if you drive more that one hour to get to work, you have a different problem, that also won’t be fixed with a cupholder. In first case you should think about your habits, and in second you should change your job or house.
        Oh, and if you think that handling a cup of coffee in a vehicle is not a distraction, I DO NOT want to be on the same road.

        1. Well that’s WHY you need cupholders in a convenient place, like in late 90s when you were cruising along eating a breakfast sandwich and sipping coffee while you were checking your pager and holding it straight with your knees, what if you heard your handle over the CB, so had to put the coffee down quick?

  9. When did cup holders begin? In the 70’s McDonald’s etc began the big plastic cup craze with collectable status and holding far more than ice and mealtime allow. Those cups had to get a waist at the bottom to fit in cup holders as they got fatter and so did people. I can remember a time without bottles or containers of water anywhere except at a restaurant and water fountains. School classrooms without etc. On long trips we had a Thermos with water or tea and stopped for a break anyway. Some drive-ins had a cardboard tray-holder that held the whole meal.

    The plastics industry sold us on convenience and excess. Fast food was on a race to market the cheapest item to up-size in the competition for drive-in dollars. What paper products are used now may be treated with those forever chems if not coated in plastic.

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