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High Beams

I learned to drive on an early-80’s, forest green Ford Thunderbird. To turn the high beams on or off, there was a little button on the floor that I clicked with my left foot. My dad’s next car was a gigantic Chrysler Town and Country with the same mechanism.

Who’s the idiot that came up with the idea to do away with the little clicker and make it necessary to pull the lever on the steering column?

Who’s the idiot that came up with the idea to do away with the little clicker
and make it necessary to pull the lever on the steering column?

How does one answer a question like that?

In my unscientific small sample size, the “idiot” was you and me - the consumer.

I remember when the Japanese imports began shipping cars with the high beam lever on the steering column - and many I knew loved it, including me. Domestic automakers simply responded to customer interest.

I suspect there’s more to it, but customer interest had to be a large component.

It was always difficult to fit the floor mat around the dimmer button. When cars went to carpets from rubber on the floor, people started using floor mats to save the carpets.

Also, where I live we have severe winters and pushing that little button while wearing big overboots is awkward. I agree that the column mounted dimmer is a step forward. Europeans like it because it allows them to flicker the highs by partially engaging it for passing and warning other drivers. That would be imposible with a floor mounted dimmer.

Yeah! And lets bring back the starter button next to the gas pedal, too! Who was the idiot that removed that one?

Kinda hard to work a floor-mounted dimmer button and the clutch at the same time, isn’t it?

I don’t miss the starter button or the headlight dimmer on the floor. The accelerator pedal starter on my old 58’ Buick was nice however. I used to turn my key on, put my hands on the steering wheel and my friends were amazed that the engine would start without turning the key. The new starter buttons on the dash take away any chances of fooling any of your passengers today.

Oh no! Heaven forbid!!!

Who do these engineers and designers think they are, anyway? When will they learn to leave the engineering and designing to people like you? Ford could save all kinds of money by replacing all of their engineers and designers with one curmudgeon.

It’s the same idiot who can’t decide which stick mounted function to put where on different vehicles !

Even on my two Fords , 06 Escape hybrid & 08 Expedition, The functions are located differently. The Escape has two handles, right and left. The Expedition just has one. My wife anf I drive just one vehicle each most of the time, so on the rare occasion we drive the other one it’s confusing to find the wipers, headlights and stuff on the “wrong” side.
– Then , once or twice a year we hop into the 1979 Chevy pickup and guess what ?
The dimmer switch is on the floor…WHERE IT BELONGS !

When I added fog lights to my 92 Explorer I bought a floor dimmer switch to be the fog light switch. Worked perfectly unless loaning to someone unfamiliar with the truck.

It had to be people with small feet or people wearing big boots. One thing we all (geezers) remember is hitting the switch by accident. I remember replacing a few of them that rusted out. Then the floor used to rust through because of water getting to the floor through the little hole.

I used to want to rest my foot where the switch was. Now, where the switch was, isn’t even there any more. Bumpy floors with no space seem to be the norm now that only a Crown Vic is like a Crown Vic.

Since it can’t be there for a manual transmission, I’d rather it not be there for an automatic transmission either.

Those switches also were very loud, which could be annoying for someone sleeping in the car on a long trip. I’d imagine they could come up with a quieter switch, although they never did back then.

When cars went to carpets from rubber on the floor, people started using floor mats to save the carpets. Then they put carpet over the floor matts.

Do I detect a note of sarcasm?

I guess I’m one of the few that actually preferred turning on the high beams with my foot!

I just think, in the overall scheme of things, there are more important aspects of old cars that I miss. I learned to drive in a 20 year old 1969 Dodge Dart, and what I miss most about it are the bench seat, so my girlfriend could sit in the middle with my arm around her, and the triangular vent windows. That high beam switch could have been relocated, and I wouldn’t have cared. I didn’t even care that it had the OEM AM radio in it. In that car, it was apropos that the only station worth listening to played classic rock, oldies, and on weekend mornings, classic R & B, like Al Green.

In hindsight, who ever thought of putting a switch for that function on the floor in the first place? I always thought it was awkward myself. That, and growing up where they used copious amounts of salt on the roads in winter, you can guess how well an electrical switch fares when constantly subjected to a boot covered in salt and slush.

How do you turn on the headlights in this car? You merely clench up your left butt cheek and viola! a switch in the seat activates the lights. Makes almost as much sense…

It may have been a good place for you but not for every one. Here in the frozen north, the little switch was always a target for grit and grime. If you haven’t noticed, not much protrudes through the floor anyway for that reason. Plus, it’s a universal fit size wise for all drivers to be on the column. But,I would like to see the major players get together and standardize a few more controls.

My wife once suffered with a broken left foot. We would often go visit our son who was in college about 50 miles away. When my wife would be driving back at night and I would almost be asleep, I would hear this “tappa-tappa-tappa click click” and a few seconds later another “tappa-tappa-tappa click click”. My wife was operating the dimmer switch with her crutch. To make matters worse, we had a gearshift car. She couldn’t get the clutch down with one crutch, so she used both crutches. This is an example of “double crutching”.
I don’t understand moving every possible control to the steering column. I had a 1954 Buick with a “Selectronic” radio. There was a floor button between the clutch and brake pedals that I could step on and advance the radio to the next station. I liked that much better than the controls on the steering wheel of my Sienna to control the radio. I’ve hit these buttons by accident while trying to honk the horn. My 1947 Pontiac had a starter pedal on the floor. I didn’t view this as any inconvenience, but the starter switches somehow got combined with the ignition switch.
An organist has to use his/her feet on the organ pedals to supplement using his/her hands on the console keyboards. Why shouldn’t automobile drivers use their feet as well?

While we are thinking about controls that were on the floor, my 1965 Rambler had a floor mounted pedal for the windshield washer. The system consisted of a bellows and a check valve–no electrical parts to wear out.