Automotive Fun Fact: How Cup Holders Arrived in American Autos

March 10, 2024

Rad Air Auto Technicians Look at History of Car Cup Holders.

Snack Tray & Cup Holder available for the Model T in the 1920s.
Snack Tray & Cup Holder available for the Model T in the 1920s.

Can you imagine a world without cup holders?  We quizzed our Facebook followers and asked them to guess the year modern-day cup holders became available in American cars.  It wasn’t until 1983 when the built-in cup holder, capable of holding a variety of cup shapes and sizes, arrived in U.S. vehicles and Chrysler made it all happen. Chrysler created an entire new category of vehicle with the invention of the minivan. A sturdy, 2-cup holder was sunk into the console of the Dodge Caravan and Plymouth Voyager. Cup holders became more commonplace after 1983, but it was not until 1994 when McDonalds famously paid Stella Liebeck a $640,000 settlement after she poured boiling coffee onto her lap while sitting in her car.

Cup holder attachments were available in the 1920s for the Model T through the Sears catalog. It is said there were more automobile gadgets available in the catalog than men’s clothing. Auto owners could purchase kitchenettes, flower pots and snack trays to attach to their vehicle. Many impractical inventions followed throughout the years including the 1957 Cadillac Eldorado Brougham which had a pull-out bar in the glove compartment. The cups were magnetized to the inside of the compartment, but were impractical if the vehicle was moving. In the 1960s and 70s, trays which clipped on the window well became very popular and widely used but consumers who wanted a built-in cup holder had to wait until the 1980s!

Congratulations to our Facebook friend, Teresa Lawson! She answered our Facebook trivia question correctly and was selected to win a $50 Sears gift card!