Continuity is a valuable asset in design. Sometimes the great minds behind car design forget this concept. They start with the best of intentions, but then someone gives them too much control with the design pen.
The steering wheel of a car should be a simple reflection of the interior, which should quietly reflect the exterior. That’s a whole lotta should-in’ going on.
Here are five piles of should that made it way too far in the design process.
Maserati Boomerang – 1972
If there are elements of the Boomerang that remind you of the DeLorean, there’s a good reason. The designer, Giorgetto Giugiaro designed them both.
The goal with the steering wheel of the Boomerang concept was that all the instruments would sit inside the steering wheel.
Cars today emulate a version of this idea, although not so thoroughly. Giugiaro crammed everything into that wheel.
The concept debuted at the March 1972 Geneva Salon as an operational vehicle, with a 4.7 liter, V8 engine.
Citroen Xenia – 1981
If Apple Computers designed a car in the 80s, it would have been the Xenia.
As it turns out, Citroen did it instead, but only in a scaled down version. They never built a full-sized version after that.
Looking at that complicated mess of buttons, one can see why. Imagine reaching through the wheel to plug in a set of number combinations or laboring to see a particular button, then reaching for it only as another car forces you into an evasive maneuver?
Um, no thanks. This writer would rather deal with the Maserati Boomerang.
BTW: I take back what I said about Apple. They would never have designed something so clunky.
Lancia Orca – 1982
That’s Orca, as in whale. Someone actually built this car. From the outside, it looks something like a 1980s Saab and a Toyota Carolla from the same year mated.
The lines of the Orca were clean, not unlike the aforementioned DeLorean, but less gull-wingy.
The Orca was a four door concept. It was the steering wheel center that made the Orca unique.
Like a deranged predecessor to our modern steering wheels, the Orca offered a number of controls, but arranged like a bad cash register interface.
The buttons forced the horn of the Orca into two spacebar-like buttons, exactly what one wants to search for in an emergency.
Pontiac Banshee IV – 1988
When Pontiac first made the Banshee, they broke the mold. That was in 1964. Then made more of them, new models, with crazier concepts.
The Banshee became the place holder for Pontiac’s development projects. They only ever build two drivable Banshees, one of which was the 1988 version.
From the outside it looked pretty slick, but the inside was too much.
Despite that awful steering wheel, it was the Corvette which killed the Banshee. Execs at Gm felt that it would cannibalize their existing Corvette market.
Pagani Huayra – 2012
The only car on this list to ever see the light of day from a production standpoint, was the Pagani Huayra. It was a mid-engined Italian sports car, priced way outside most buyers range.
The exterior styling was hot, like a compact Ferrari, but better. It packed a twin-turbo, 6.0 liter V12, developed by Mercedes Benz.
Everything about this car said class: simple lines, powerful engine, and then there’s the steering wheel. Stare at this image long enough, and you’ll swear you smell something in the air like a hirsute man wearing too much cologne just walked by.
It looks like someone hit the Liberace estate sale on the way to the design table. This steering wheel doesn’t know if it’s modern, with the carbon fiber wheel, or if it’s steam punk design on peyote.
You’ll pay at least $1-million if you like this combo.
Like most fresh ideas in cars, one feels the urge to pick and choose from the best parts as if building a custom car. For the lot here, the designers can keep every one of these steering wheels.
I’ll take my Huayra in the driverless version, thank you very much.