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why is the key to the left of the steering wheel?

Porsche is the only manufacturer whose ignition key is inserted to the left of the steering wheel to start. We tell you why!

German manufacturers have their little specificities that are out of the ordinary, such as a dial (with questionable ergonomics) to control the headlights, and which is located on the dashboard, to the left of the steering wheel. In addition to this, Porsche is the only manufacturer whose ignition key must be inserted on the left of the steering wheel. We explain why!

Porsche ignition key: a competition story?

The most common explanation you will hear about this relates to the story of Porsche in competition : according to this rumor, the position of the key to the left dates back to the brand’s entry into the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1951. At the time, the drivers were standing by on the other side of the track, and when the the start was given, had to run to their car before setting off on the circuit.

The location of the key to the left of the steering wheel would therefore have made it possible to save a few precious seconds to the driver, allowing him to start the car with his left hand, while manipulating the gear lever with his right hand. This story could have been interesting for the image of the brand, but the real reason is quite different …

Porsche ignition key: valuable savings

Indeed, the placement of the starter key to the left of the steering wheel dates back to the Porsche 356, marketed in 1948, a few years before Porsche entered competition. The history of this model is closely linked to that of the Volkswagen Beetle, and the Second World War. After the conflict, raw materials in both Germany and Austria, where the 356 was designed, were scarce, and any economy was good to go.

This is how Ferdinand Porsche decided to place the ignition key to the left of the steering wheel, in order to save a few centimeters of electrical wiring, and so reduce manufacturing costs. If today, more than 70 years later, Porsche still uses this specificity to distinguish itself from other brands, its origin was purely economic!

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