The steering wheel is arguably the centre of attention for every car owner, at least from the driver’s seat perspective. Designers have had to create different steering wheel looks, sizes, and even shapes to match trends in the automotive world and also the consumer’s taste. Over the years, steering wheels have evolved from simple rotating controllers to complex instruments. However, one thing has remained constant – they are the nexus between man and car.
In this article, we look at the weirdest steering wheels ever made by carmakers. Brace yourself to 10 of the quirkiest, most bizarre and most unorthodox steering wheel designs ever used
1. Spyker C8 Spyder
The Dutch-produced sports car Spyker C8 is a thing of beauty for one. The car's steering wheel features a distinct design and layout that looks like an aeroplane propeller with four spokes. These spokes are made from aluminium and join the wheel handle to form the shape of a circle divided into quarters. This steering wheel is one of most bizarre elements of the car's interior, and as you’ve probably guessed, it does not have an airbag.
2. Aston Martin Lagonda
This four-door saloon by British automobile manufacturer Aston Martin was built during a time when the company was facing immense financial pressure. The company had to create something out of the ordinary to get financial aid. The Aston Martin Lagonda did precisely that, as it helped the company stay afloat.
Introduced in the '80s, the car had an unconventional steering wheel complemented with a futuristic and fashionable dashboard. The steering wheel ejected from the dashboard, with only a single broad stroke that looked simple and orderly from the dash. It was enclosed with a slim leather that made it more classy and cool. This, among other reasons, was why the car was loved by many.
3. Maserati Boomerang
One of the craziest features of the Boomerang is its strange dashboard and steering wheel. Even though the design does not exist today, this ‘70s Boomerang steering wheel was the weirdest concept ever put to practice.
This hand wheel was fitted with four spokes that made it hard to steer on the road. It also featured a circular binnacle that housed all gauges, which were difficult to use one at a time as they were all directly fixed at the centre of the wheel. Not only did people find the steering wheel impractical, but also a little bit grotesque.
4. Subaru XT (Alcyone in Japan, Vortex in Australia and NZ)
If you are coming up with a list of cars with quirky steering wheels, best not leave the Subaru XT out. The vehicle had an L-shaped steering wheel that looked like a pistol with turning signals on it, which were distinct and weird simultaneously. The steering was fitted with two spokes where the driver could rest his palm while pressing the buttons on it. Despite having an aircraft-inspired cockpit, this 2-door coupe didn’t achieve success when it hit the market in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s.
5. Citroen DS
Introduced in 1955 at the Paris Motor Show, Citroen DS was one of the most advanced cars in its time. In the ten days of the show, this French-produced car took in 80,000 deposits - a record that was never broken for over 60 years until 2016 when the Tesla Model 3 surpassed it with 180,000 first day deposits.
The DS was equipped with drum brakes and a perfectly fitted steering wheel. Its steering wheel had a single spoke that extended from the dashboard. This design made the wheel appear like it was defying logic and gravity.
6. Mazda MX-03
Debuting in 1985 at the Tokyo Motor Show, the Mazda was an impressive car, not to mention attractive in its overall design. On the interior, the car had a digital dashboard and a two epic handgrip setup for a steering wheel. The setup remotely resembled that of a jet.
7. Lancia Beta Trevi
The four-door notchback saloon Lancia Trevi, sold as Lancia Beta Trevi, was first introduced in 1980 at the Turin Auto Show. Its steering wheel spoke curved downwards similar to the mouth curve of a sad emoji. This feature gave the steering wheel a somewhat frowning appearance. The sad off-centre wheel was also accompanied by an oddly designed dashboard often referred to as the 'Swiss Cheese.'
8. Oldsmobile Incas
Designed by ItalDesign, the Incas concept design took things up a notch. The interior of the car was super cool with a multifunctional steering wheel much advanced than that of a Mazda MX-03. The digital wheel concept was similar to that of fiction spaceships but more practical. The steering wheel had individual handgrips with control buttons mounted to it for tilting. A speedometer was attached at the centre of the wheel.
9. Ford Wrist Twist
When Ford introduced the Wrist Twist technology in 1965, it hoped that the technology would not only have a huge success but also take over the automotive industry. Rather than the big single steering wheel, Ford employed a steering wheel design of two smaller wheels on each side of the spoke.
The concept was comfortable, worked fairly well, and even improved visibility since the two smaller steering wheels were placed slightly lower than the conventional steering wheel. The problem arose when one wanted to perform full-lock manoeuvres or parallel park. This Wrist Twist steering system was twitchy and overly responsive.
10. Lancia Orca
The Lancia Orca steering wheel was designed in 1982 by the ItalDesign. It had a unique view with control buttons mounted to it for operating exterior lights and other specified functions. The steering wheel, though, appeared more like an arcade game or a mobile phone with a multitude of buttons on it for operation.
That’s all for now but feel free to check out our other curated lists in the CarPart website:
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By Sam O.