Digital Media Concepts/Porsche Ignition

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When sitting down in and attempting to start a Porsche, one will quickly realize that the ignition is not found on the left of the steering wheel. The ignition key in most all Porsches is located to the left of the steering wheel, an iconic characteristic of the brand's vehicles.

The Porsche Emblem

Le Mans Race[edit]

The 24 Hours of Le Mans is an endurance race held annually near Le Mans, France. This race incoporated a Standing start, where drivers would have to run to their vehicles, get in, start the car, switch it into gear, and drive away.

Le Mans-style start
Le Mans Race Track

Awards[edit]

Porsche has 19 outright wins, the most out of any manufacturer.

Years: 19701971, 19761977, 1979, 19811987, 1994, 19961998, 20152017

Innovation[edit]

These wins are most often attributed to the placement of the ignition. When the race starts and the drivers must run to and start the car, they must use their right hand to start the car, then switch the car into gear. Those who are driving Porsches are able to turn the key and switch the gear at the same time, shaving off a little bit of time. That split-second advantage grew into minutes over the 24 hour period, explaining Porsche's impressive record.

Controversy[edit]

There are different explanations as to why Porsches have the ignition to the left of the steering wheel:

  • Porsche dealers will tell the story about how it pays tribute to racing; "The left hand starts the engine: as early as 1925, the placement of the ignition switch to the left of the steering wheel enabled race drivers to start their engine even while they were still climbing into their car during the start from the pit wall at Le Mans. And when something works well, we keep it that way."
  • Another source claims that "In the early Postwar period, when the company amounted to a mere handful of men hammering and welding in an old sawmill, electrical wire was scarce. Putting the switch on the left 'saved a little bit of wire, a little bit of money,... and maybe 200 grams.'"

Legacy[edit]

While a lot of Porsche owners love to echo the racing story to anyone willing to listen, most people forget that some of Porsche's production models, including different iterations of the

and

that had the ignitions located on the right of the steering wheel.

In more recent years, the placement of the ignition has been consistently on the outside of the wheel, closest to the door.

Whatever story you choose to believe, Porsche is still an impressive brand with a rich history worth exploring.

External Links[edit]

A YouTube video about one of the explanations above. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zy-1XKWjINk

Read more about Porsche's explanation on this incredible innovation. https://www.porsche.com/porschesportscup-germany/en/profile/philosophy/

References[edit]

"The Real Reason Porsche Ignitions Are Left of the Wheel." accessed September 19, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-real-reason-porsche-ignitions-are-left-of-the-wheel-11553866078.

"Philosophy," accessed September 20, 2019, https://www.porsche.com/porschesportscup-germany/en/profile/philosophy/.

"Top 5 Manufacturers at the 24 Hours of Le Mans: The Stories Behind 54 Wins," accessed September 20, 2019, https://www.lemans.org/en/news/top-5-manufacturers-at-the-24-hours-of-le-mans-the-stories-behind-54-wins-video/50126.

"Porsche's Twitter Account Seems to Have Forgotten a Lot of Past Porsches," accessed September 26, 2019, https://www.roadandtrack.com/car-culture/a32353/the-porsche-twitter-account-seems-to-have-forgotten-most-of-its-past-models/.

"List of 24 Hours of Le Mans Winners," accessed September 21, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_24_Hours_of_Le_Mans_winners.