In the dynamic world of automobiles, innovations come and go, some revolutionary and others forgotten. Yet, every so often, a gem of an idea emerges, leaving a mark on history and making us wonder, “Why didn’t this catch on more?” One such fascinating innovation was introduced by Ford in 1965: the “Wrist Twist” steering system.
What Exactly Was the Wrist Twist Steering System?
Moving away from the traditional steering wheel that we all know and love, Ford’s “Wrist Twist” steering system featured two small, side-by-side circles (or wheels) located where you’d typically find the horn. Instead of the usual hand-over-hand steering method, drivers could maneuver the car using just their wrists. Yes, you read that right. With a gentle turn of one or both circles, you could steer the car.
Why Did Ford Introduce It?
The 1960s were a time of experimentation. The space race was in full swing, rock ‘n’ roll dominated the airwaves, and in the automotive world, engineers and designers were pushing boundaries. The “Wrist Twist” system was part of Ford’s broader push to make cars more user-friendly and accessible. They believed this new system could be a game-changer for women drivers.
The idea was simple: by reducing the physical effort required to steer, Ford hoped to attract more women to the driver’s seat, offering them an easier and more ergonomic driving experience. The “Wrist Twist” system did make parking and tight turns easier, especially because power steering wasn’t as common or refined as it is today.
Reception and Legacy
While the “Wrist Twist” steering garnered attention and curiosity, it didn’t become mainstream. The reasons are many. For one, people are creatures of habit, and a drastic change in something as fundamental as a car’s steering mechanism was a bit much for many to digest. There was also concern about safety. Would the wrist wheels hold up in an accident? Could they be controlled as effectively during high-speed maneuvers?
Despite not becoming a staple in the auto industry, the “Wrist Twist” system is an essential reminder of the spirit of innovation. It exemplifies Ford’s willingness to experiment and challenge conventions.