What ever happened to those little impressed finger-shaped thingies on steering wheels?

See header. I used to love those as a kid, like being strapped in (before straps on cars of course) when my father was away.

I have to say I have no idea what you’re talking about. I thought you were talking about the finger sized contours on the back of the wheel, which my 2008 car has (and many modern cars still have), but your other sentence about being strapped in while your father was away has now completely thrown me.

What do you mean? Because this sounds like when your parents went away for the weekend, instead of hiring a baby sitter they just tied you to your bed.

Uh, I have a GQ.

What are you talking about? What straps on cars? Why did you like being strapped in…to the steering wheel?


:slight_smile: I said “like” those things. You tell me, what does a kid feel like when he’s at a steering wheel of a car or rocket ship using custom-design controls (temporarily, sheesh) and he’s gearing up for trip through town or to the moon?
Now that that’s been cleared up, I haven’t seen those impression thingies for a while.

ETA: Thanks to** JMAN** for his contribution (but thanks to all Dopers, as usual). I see know that I should never have mentioned straps; I meant seat-belts, to say that this was in the days before seat belts. I should never have clouded the issue with extraneous thoughts.

ETAAgain: I don’t know how to drive.

Are you referring to the easy-to-find controls for the horn, which seem to have gone away when they started putting airbags in the steering wheel?

There used to be an actual circular bar just on the inside of the steering wheel, which you could either push or pull in any direction to make the horn blow. Extremely useful in an emergency, which ought to be the main (or only) time that the horn gets blown. But now there is just a couple of horn-shaped icons molded into the plastic that I simply cannot find and press fast enough. (For an example, see this picture, where it is called a “horn ring”)

No, but that’s an interesting historical fact.
This is what I mean: James Stewart’s caras he tools around San Francisco in Hitchcock’s Vertigo (1958).

Got it.

Back in and before the 1970s, steering wheels used to have a hard surface. This was phased out, probably as safety standards were phased in.

The old steering wheels had finger grips molded into the plastic, on the backside of the wheel. This gave the driver something to grip in case the wheel was too slippery or if it was too hard to turn the wheel in a car without power steering. Modern wheels may have these bumps molded into the foam/rubber that coats the steering wheel’s frame, but it’s more of a stylistic decision since virtually all cars have power steering and the soft foam is easier to grip.

Ummm… Yeah!.. What Cornflakes said… :smiley:

IMHO and just an all around WAG, I would have to say that it is due to the way steering wheels are now constructed, as opposed to the 50’s and 60’s. Modern steering wheels are made with a padded (cushioning?) cover. Safety reasons is what I’m thinking.:slight_smile:

My Saturn still has a few here and there but soft plastic/vynal like they use in modern wheels is easier to grip and don’t really need them 360 like the old steel wheels did. I can remember trying to cut hard fast turns in the summer in my 59 Villager and having the steering wheel take off on its own undoing half the hard work (no power steering of course) I had been doing. And why were steering wheels as big around as they were? Try turning without power steering with some dinky diameter modern-style wheel. I have – it isn’t pretty.

Now what I miss are “hugger handles” - these door-like knobs you would clamp on your steering wheel to get a better grip - and cruise with one hand, arm resting on your open window, Camels rolled up in your sleeve, and something from that kid named Elvis on the radio.

OK – that’s it. I have to call the Drifters car club and buy a ratrod now.

I miss the old half moon bar. Every time I’ve needed to honk in an an emergency nothing I hit works. I’ve often thought of installing something that looks like a Stapples Easy Button on the dashboard.

related story. I once needed to honk in a hospital parking lot because a car was backing into me. Of course I didn’t hit the right spot to activate the horn and the elder gentlemen hit my seriously rusted Maverick. Sadly it didn’t make any noise as the rusty quarter panel just folded gently inward. The poor guy was wearing his best 3 piece (read ancient) suit to visit someone. I just shook my head and told him to forget it. My BIL had a great idea to “fix” the car. We pushed the rust back in place and filled the void with foam insulation to keep it’s shape.

“BIL” == ? :confused:

Beloved? Born in Love? Busty Lady?

At first I thought you were talking about the old steering wheel knobs. I think they were also called suicide knobs, although I don’t know why.


you can google an acronym with a comma and the word “acronym” and find them pretty easy if you don’t know them. Heck, usually the letters “acr” will trigger drop-down choices. There are a bunch of acronym finders on the net. FYI, I try to just use the most common ones so as not to confuse people but it doesn’t always work. :slight_smile:

I have one of those in my garage. I believe they are illegal nowadays however, or I’d mount it on the steering wheel of our old truck. :smiley:

Legal if you have a medical reason for one. like being an amputee. At least that’s what the cop told me while I removed mine . . . after he pulled me over. :frowning:

They still make them, I have one on my lawn tractor . . . it’s a massive chrome skull. :smack:

CMC fnord!

They were called suicide knobs because the cheaper ones in particular tended to break, causing you to lose control of the car. They were also good for catching your sleeve and pulling your hand completely off of the wheel in a turn. Also, if you hit a curb or something, the force of the wheel suddenly jerking would cause the knob to either break part of your hand or it would just jerk the knob completely out of your grip, where a steering wheel would just turn a bit and you’d grab it wherever the wheels ended up pointing.

Do you guys drive a different car every day? Or do I just honk a lot?

I have like 9 buttons on my steering wheel. Maybe 20% of the surface of the inside of the steering wheel will honk the horn.