The steering wheel doesn’t always get the attention it deserves. That’s surprising, because it is arguably the part of the car that drivers spend the most time with. Literally, it’s right in front of them whenever they drive!
But, fortunately, some automakers haven’t overlooked the trusty steering wheel. A few cars have taken this vital component and done amazing things with it. Here are just four steering wheels that stand out.
The Jaguar E-Type’s Steering Wheel Is a Work of Art for Anybody Considering an Auto Career
The Jaguar E-Type is widely considered a work of art—so much so, in fact, that the Museum of Modern Art in New York City has one in its permanent collection. With its sleek silhouette and long front end, the E-Type is the pinnacle of 1960s British sports car design. Appropriately enough for a vehicle that Enzo Ferrari called “the most beautiful car ever made,” no details were overlooked, including the steering wheel. This wooden steering wheel featured three bullet-holed steel spokes. It was as simple, elegant, and edgy as the car it steered.
The Porsche Cayenne Proves That Form and Function Can Work Together
While the steering wheels of vintage cars like the E-Type look great, they have one big problem: they don’t have any room for storing an airbag. As a result, today’s steering wheels tend to be bulkier and less elegant. The addition of numerous buttons and knobs also only adds to that bulk. But some car manufacturers have managed to balance safety and convenience along with a visually striking design. The Porsche Cayenne is a case in point. Porsche managed to pull off a steering wheel that features a host of buttons and knobs, yet feels elegant in a hi-tech sort of way. It’s proof that form doesn’t always have to sacrifice function.
Citroën Osmose Shows What the Steering Wheel of the Future Could Look Like
While Porsche may have perfected the steering wheel of today, French automaker Citroën’s Osmose featured the steering wheel of the future. Debuting in 2000, the Citroën Osmose was a concept car, so you probably won’t come across one in your auto career. Despite being nearly two decades old, the Osmose predicted many things that have since become commonplace, like a zero-emissions engine, sensors to warn drivers of pedestrians, and car-sharing tech.
The Osmose also reinvented the steering wheel, which was a large, disc-shaped device that didn’t physically move. Instead, it was a giant touchscreen. The driver moved their hands along its edge, thus steering the car. In the middle, the screen displayed information like speed, directions, and messages. Considering that the Osmose debuted seven years before the first iPhone made touchscreen technology mainstream, this hi-tech steering wheel was well ahead of its time.
The First Generation Mustang’s Steering Wheel Displays Classic Muscle Car Style
Most of the steering wheels on this list are in European cars, which isn’t surprising given many European automakers’ reputation for crafting vehicles that look fantastic. North American vehicles, on the other hand, tend to be functional and their steering wheels typically reflect that.
Fortunately, there are exceptions, with the American muscle car standing out as a type with its own unique style. The Ford Mustang, of course, is considered an iconic muscle car among many car enthusiasts considering automotive careers. The First Generation Mustang, in particular, which was produced from 1965 to 1973, boasted a big and beautiful three-spoke steering wheel. It showed that American car makers could create a sophisticated and stylish steering wheel just as well as their European counterparts.
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