Between the seats and the steering wheel, you have a lot of tactile interaction with your car or truck. Your ass gets all the contact with the seat and no one’s interested in what THAT part of your body has to say, but your hands on the other. . . something, well they’re intended to give your feedback through their touch, and that’s why today we want to talk wheels.
The earliest cars didn’t even have steering wheels, offering instead a tiller to effect some vague form of directional guidance. The first production car to sport a steering wheel is generally thought to be the 1898 Panhard et Levassor 4HP. So impressed with the marque was Charles Rolls that he began his automotive career by importing a 6HP Panhard, introducing the steering wheel to Great Britain and establishing a career path for a future Jeremy Clarkson.
Today there’s not a current mass-produced car sold that doesn’t have a steering wheel of some fashion situated in front of the driver’s seat. While wheels of the past have been simple affairs, steel sprung and perhaps rope or leather bound, they didn’t show evidence of the importance imbued in the primary tactile interfaces of today. Some of our steering wheels now have hand-molded humps, or squared-off bottoms, and most have more buttons than were possessed by an entire production run of those 19th century Panhards. Seeing the importance steering wheels possess, which one do you think is the most awesome?