You’ve come a long way baby. A new video from Ford shows off the view drivers have had in their vehicles, from the Model T to the 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E. Levers, knobs, and buttons all make their way in and out of the frame, but there’s been one constant over the last century – the steering wheel.
As the video shows, the view from the driver’s seat has gone from simple to sophisticated to simple and sophisticated. Technology in, on, and around the steering wheel has gone from simple to ever more complex over the years.
The first windscreens were made of the same material as household windows. Now they’re a complex multi-layered glass meant not just to protect and shield from the elements but also provide structural support and prevent road and engine noise from permeating the cabin.
The 2003 Ford Mustang Mach 1 had all the gauges a buyer would have expected.
Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company
In 1927, the Ford Model A cost $540. To add a car radio, buyers had to fork over $130 extra. It wasn’t until the Model Y showed up in the 1930s that the rearview mirror became commonplace. In the years following World War II, Ford’s dashboard design was influenced by airplane cockpits.
As the Swinging 60s rolled around, Ford’s cockpits become more extravagant. Softer materials made their presence known and dashboards began showing more character. The muscle cars of the 70s had their beefy designs translated from the exterior to the interior.
The rise in the popularity in video games led to controls being added to the steering wheel of Ford cars. Then came airbags.
As computers gained relevance in the workplace, they began to be inserted into vehicles. As personal computers gained prominence, buyers demanded that the evolution come to cars as well. Not only were high-tech features developed, but personalization and customization of computer-based features became a thing.
Materials continued to evolve making interiors more durable and customers began demanding more premium features.
For the 2021 Mustang Mach-E, Ford has taken a reductive approach to the cockpit. The Ford design team is committed to continuing reductive design as the company works toward releasing more electric vehicles to the public.
Take a watch:
The evolution of the driver’s view
Mercedes recently showed off the evolution of its steering wheel design over the last century. While Ford has been reductive with its approach, the German automaker is adding screens that span the width of the vehicle. Jeep has taken a similar approach with the new Grand Wagoneer.