My sister has the Monopoly game my parents bought back in 1955. Back then the tokens were solid-cast and very heavy. Even the money was made of heavy tag (or book grade) paper.
My favorite was the race car.
That family Monopoly game sure got a lot of use. I always lost because I never really understood what constituted winning. Most of the fun of Monopoly was because no one seemed to understand the point of it all. In the absence of a complete understanding, Monopoly can be a lot of fun.
I don't see why they felt the need to change anything in the classic game. There's so many versions of Monopoly that if someone wanted a different game experience, all they had to do was purchase another version. I think the diamond ring would have fit in best as the other pieces seem out of place with the current pieces.
You're definitely right about that. I don't even think most will even notice the change. I always picked the car, and rarely was in a game with more than 4 people so I couldn't even recall all the tokens anyways.