What Might Have Been – Ford’s Experimental “Wrist-Twist???

In 1964, Ford tested an experimental “Wrist-Twist” steering system that just might have replaced the steering wheel.

E3 Spark Plugs loves finding vintage car tidbits, and this one is a doozy. In 1965, Ford tested a concept car that just might have fundamentally changed driving forever.  Designed by a former missile engineer, the experimental Mercury Park Lane replaced the boring ol’ steering wheel with two five-inch metallic rings mounted on a two-pronged stick.

Dubbed the Wrist-Twist Steering Control, the system promised improved steering, better visibility and comfort features like armrests for each of the rings, making sitting in the driver’s seat feel a lot more like sitting in “your favorite easy chair.”

In a promotional video promoting the Wrist-Twist, the experimental convertible was tested by “a driver who promises to be about as non-technical as they come,” says the narrator.

We’re not sure whether he was was alluding the fact that the test driver was a woman, or that she was a cute blonde woman. Touche, indeed. We’re having flashbacks of Mad Men episodes.

Anyway, in addition to being a time-capsuled statement on manufacturer’s attitudes toward women, including assumption that “most women agree that parking is the most taxing part of driving,” the video is thought-provoking. What if the Wrist-Twist had caught on? Does it look like something you’d drive? And what might have been the next major fundamental change? After all, “you can never tell what surprises automakers have just around the corner,” the narrator says.

Take a look at the video and post your thoughts on the E3 Spark Plugs fan page.