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Key on the right?

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Old 03-14-2015, 09:30 AM   #1
Adk46
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Default Key on the right?

Many years ago, I replaced my '82 Saab 900 Turbo with an '86 Saab 9000 Turbo. I might have hesitated had they moved the key from their traditional center position to the conventional right side.

The development of the 928 did not pay much respect to the public's perception of proper Porsche tradition. We like the result, but many did not. There was substantial marketing risk.

With this said, why did Porsche put the ignition key on the right? Wouldn't it have been smart to make a small nod to tradition by keeping the key on the left? It seems gratuitous, an unnecessary poke in the eye. It was the first thing I noticed when I first got into a 928, that it would handicap me for my Le Mans starts.

I've done much reading on the history of the 928, but have not seen this mentioned.
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Old 03-14-2015, 10:02 AM   #2
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Wonder that myself, always a few seconds of guessing when I jump in the 996 or vice versa. My guess is Porsche was trying to capture MB or BMW owners with there fresh sheet grand touring car and a key location the left would be totally foreign to that demographic.
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Old 03-14-2015, 12:18 PM   #3
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There are quirks/idiosyncracies to many car things, and key placement has been one of them. The theory that 911 key is on the left to facilitate LeMans starts falls into that category, even though the earlier cars had key on the right. Seems the majority of the world's drivers are right-handed, except LeMans racers.

Saab's key-on-the-floor strategy is documented as part of their safety program. My early 900 Turbo came with a book that detailed all the quirky features on the car, from the upright seating and windshield angle to the keys in the console and the design of the knee pads under the dash. Seems accidents too often involved drivers' knees and impact with the huge wad of keys that many seemed to dangle from conventional ignition locks.

Fast-forward to more esoteric thinking, when steering wheel locks appeared. Some manufacturers came up with cable arrangements to tie the ignition lock to gear shifts and steering columns. American cars had the gear selectors moved to the column, so a local lock for all was simple and effective. Cables still were used to lock console shift mechanisms on auto trans cars. And the majority of the worlds non-LeMans drivers were still right-handed.

Following the theme, most drivers are right-footed, so that even on RHD cars the throttle is the right-most pedal in the cluster. The gear selector is still in the center console so you don't have to climb over it, key still on the right for the non-LeMans drivers.


So-- Do right-hand-drive 911's have the key on the left side of the dash/gauge pack as the LHD cars do?


-----

Proper sports cars like my long-gone MG-TD had the ignition in the center of the car in the dash, easy to reach regardless of which side of the car the steering and pedals happened to land.
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Old 03-14-2015, 01:20 PM   #4
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Ah - I was searching my addled head for the right word: "quirky". My wife's Smartcar is plenty quirky, including having the key on the floor like a Saab. Cayman has it on the left (I'm in the pit for Fiddler on the Roof this month, so I hear the chorus cry out: "Tradition!"). F150, on the right. Prius has no key at all! I look like an idiot when I get into our cars.
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Old 03-14-2015, 01:38 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Adk46 View Post
Many years ago, I replaced my '82 Saab 900 Turbo with an '86 Saab 9000 Turbo. I might have hesitated had they moved the key from their traditional center position to the conventional right side.

The development of the 928 did not pay much respect to the public's perception of proper Porsche tradition. We like the result, but many did not. There was substantial marketing risk.

With this said, why did Porsche put the ignition key on the right? Wouldn't it have been smart to make a small nod to tradition by keeping the key on the left? It seems gratuitous, an unnecessary poke in the eye. It was the first thing I noticed when I first got into a 928, that it would handicap me for my Le Mans starts.

I've done much reading on the history of the 928, but have not seen this mentioned.

Jaguar had start buttons back in the day and got away from those as well in the late '60s until relatively recently when other manufacturers started using the start button they had for all those years. (retro futurism?)

My Cayenne had the key on the left and i remember I liked that when i first noticed it.

IMO, Porsche seemed determined to rid the 928 of any 356/911 details.. even the smallest. They must have been sick and tired of overcoming all of it's inherent design flaws.

There could possible have been a US DOT issue with it as well who knows..
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Old 03-14-2015, 02:54 PM   #6
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Back when keys were not double sided the different brands had a pattern of right side up or upside down ....pretty funny really but helped build brand loyalty.
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Old 03-14-2015, 03:08 PM   #7
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I have an aversion to GM. I have some good reasons (e.g., the Aztec!). I should forgive them now but I can't seem to let go of it. When I look into my soul to understand why, it's the key issue. I believe they were the last company on earth to give up on the one-sided, two-key system. That was taking tradition way too far.
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Old 03-14-2015, 06:17 PM   #8
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Witness the late GM aversion to updating a seventy-eight cent ignition switch, and you get an idea how "the way we've always done it" is economic as well as "a tradition". In GM's case, if there's a way to shave a few cents out of unit cost, they get to reap big total savings. Meanwhile, the botique and specialty car builders can afford the changes. For Porsche and the 911, it probably started out quirky on purpose as a way to separate the brand from the masses. Then loyalty and tradition once it became their standard.

I suspect that having the 928 key in a more "conventional" location actually cost the company many sales from the faithful 911 fanbase. In contrast, it might have been part of their strategy to avoid poaching the 911 purists' market for their new more upscale flagship car.
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Old 03-14-2015, 06:38 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Adk46 View Post
I have an aversion to GM. I have some good reasons (e.g., the Aztec!). I should forgive them now but I can't seem to let go of it. When I look into my soul to understand why, it's the key issue. I believe they were the last company on earth to give up on the one-sided, two-key system. That was taking tradition way too far.
Yes the Aztec was really bad.

Curt, when i was in High School our neighbors left town and asked me to look after their home while away.

They had a very early Saab 900 with hundreds of thousands of miles on it.

They used it as a hauler.

I was to use it to run errands. (I had fun doing that)

Antway, I got in with the key in my hand and just sat looking around for what felt like a solid 5 minutes until finally i noticed the switch.

Even with all the hay in it and those miles on it,

i found it to be a great car.
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Old 03-15-2015, 03:38 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jetson8859 View Post
Wonder that myself, always a few seconds of guessing when I jump in the 996 or vice versa.
Ha, same here. And, off the top of my head and without going out to the garage to check, I'm 99% certain the key in my 951 is on the right. But I wouldn't bet my life on it.
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Old 03-15-2015, 10:09 AM   #11
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I have a SAAB 9-5 and prefer the key placement in the centre, it makes getting in and out, starting so much more fluid as your hand kinda falls in place as you get in.

OMG the Aztec, I worked on the Canadian launch campaign for that tent on wheels. We produced a folding cardboard car for the dealers to use as a sales tool. But the cars were not selling so they just chucked it all to the garbage, 100's of thousands wasted on that print job alone.

Now back to our key position, they should have kept it on the left.
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Old 03-15-2015, 01:23 PM   #12
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The Cayenne is on the left which for a second or 2 does cause a little confusion as I unlock it with the remote in my right and operate the door handle with my left then switch to insert the key in ignition.

Although Ive been to Le Mans many times I never raced there
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Old 03-15-2015, 10:07 PM   #13
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yep, unlock the Boxster with the right hand, switch keys to the left hand. have to look for it in the 928
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Old 03-16-2015, 12:37 AM   #14
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Who cares witch side the key is on? It's the gas filler that's really important! Porsche fills on the right side, my Chevy's on the left, cept the Aero Coupe is in the center behind the plate. Focus is on the right. Packard, and Cord on the right rear. Pantera on the left, behind the drivers side gill.


Really glad the ole lady fills from the lower bottom end.
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Old 03-16-2015, 04:11 AM   #15
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Key nearer to the door on LeMans had small advantage back then when drivers did run into cars. They could start engine even before they were completely in it. Which handed they happen to be makes no difference.
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