once status symbols, these 1990s factory car phones will face the crusher
During the 1990s, factory-installed cellular telephones were popular optional equipment in high-end luxury cars. You'd get a bulky transmitter unit in the trunk or under the dash, maybe an external antenna that told the world "High Roller Inside," and a handset that allowed you to make those big deals while driving your 7-Series or LS400 or S-Class. Even though the FCC allowed carriers to switch off their analog cellular service nearly a decade ago, rendering all those 1990s car phones just so much useless e-waste, I still see quite a few of them while making my junkyard rounds.
Once a plutocratic luxury car gets a little frayed around the edges and depreciation eats up most of its value, the fourth or fifth owners tend to fear the process of a backyard telephone amputation -- who knows what could happen to those complex electronics? -- and spending money to have professionals do a phone-ectomy seems like a waste. So these phones stay until the end.
So now these phones collect fast food crumbs and dust, drawing power, taking up center-console space, and broadcasting interference in the 800 mHz band when activated. When the car's time on the asphalt ends, the obsolete phone heads with it to the crusher. There is a sadness in such complete obsolescence.