To "Start" do you always turn the key in the clockwise direction?

The reason I ask is because I was watching that TV science show “Cosmos” that originally aired on commercial TV in 2014, I was watching it on DVD to avoid the commercials. One episode is in part about the subject of tetraethyl lead and the scientist back in the 1960’s who investigated whether or not it was introducing lead into the environment. Anyway, there’s a short cartoon segment in which the scientist gets into his car, then turns the key counterclockwise to start the engine. This seemed sort of weird to me, probably just a mistake during editing. But then I got to wondering if there are indeed cars in which the key has to be turned counterclockwise to start?

Are there any cars – past or present – in which you turn the key in the counterclockwise direction to start the car? And any speculations why most cars use the clockwise direction?

There may well be a car that needs ccw turn though I do not know of one. Different manufactures have been doing reverse things forever. In the days of single sided keys, gm points on the key went down, chrysler went up. crank windows clockwise for own in gm, counter clockwise in dodge etc, I think it even applies to electric windows, some pull up to lower the window, others push down.

I feel confident that someone designed a CCW ignition cylinder at some time in the past.
After all, if Chrysler designed CCW threads on their wheel studs on one side (and they did), nothing is too dumb!

Don’t bother with the technical explanation guys, I already know it. It was dumb anyway.

Chrysler Corp. was not the only automaker to use left hand threads on the drivers side. It was an engineering decision. With left hand threads on the left side , loose lug nuts have less tendency to come off.

I am not familiar with the art in drawing a cartoon cel, but I wonder if it was drawn clockwise and in the process of transferring to film if it got turned around. Like looking in a mirror.

They always thought that Billy the Kid was left handed because of an old photo. Someone finally noticed that the Winchester rifle he was holding …the loading gate was on the wrong side.

I’m sure photographers have a term for the reversal of images like that.


As far as I can remember they all go CW except for the ones that had the starter on the floor. I suppose someone sometime might have but that engineer is long dead by now. I’ve been through Disney’s animation studio and you have to remember that these folks are artists. Not necessarily mechanically inclined but it could have gotten reversed too.

While I have driven some vehicles with starter switches that would not be recognized by many and likely no one younger than 40 would know what to do to crank the engine on quite a few models but I have never seen a CCW crank position. Not to say there wasn’t one. I have faith that if there was someone here will post a picture.

They do, Yosemite, it’s called “reversing the image”…
Sorry. Couldn’t resist. {:smiley:

I deserved that one!!!


OK, you got me thinking now about reversed images. I don’t remember the guys name but the Sheriff on Jaws always had his badge on the RIGHT side of his shirt instead of the LEFT over his heart. It always drove me nuts. No law enforcement officer would ever do that and I always wondered WHY?

Yosemite Reversed cells in the animation was the first thing I thought of. The “left handed gun” Billy the kid photo was the first example I thought of. All model 1873 Winchesters in fact all lever action Winchesters except the model 1895 and model 88 which had box magazines had the loading gate on the right side. Henry rifles did not have a loading gate and were not Winchesters though they looked like one.
Rod Knox I have driven vehicles with the starter switch on the floor. My Austin Healey Sprite MK1 had a button on the dash. The turn signal switch was a 3 way toggle next to it. I’m sure most of the youngsters think the starter buttons on some modern cars is a new invention. Was it Buicks that had the starter switch under the accelerator pedal?

Yes Buicks had it under the gas pedal, and Studebakers had it under the clutch pedal. And it was real common to have a big push pedal over the gas, through the firewall, until right after WWII. A 52 Hillman Minx had a pull knob on the dash. Fords had the key slot on the left side of the dash in the 50’s and 60’s. You could turn the key to OFF and pull it out, and then turn the car on and off without the key on GM cars around 1960 or so. You had to turn it to LOCK to really lock up the ignition.

Bing, there might be another reason. I saw an interview in TV once where they said that the city they were filming in required that they wear their badges on the wrong side (in order to get their permits) to prevent the citizenry from mistaking the actors for real cops.

That’s interesting and would certainly explain it. It really looked goofy though with the badge on the right.

My hazy memory seesm to recall some older cars that had a CCW ignition switch but I simply can’t coax a brain cell into remembering for certain.

Ford trucks in the 50s/60s (???) maybe with a dashboard mounted switch to the left of the steering column? I’m probably beyond dead wrong; just throwing it out there.
I also do not remember for sure if those switches were CCW or “normal”.

Another fuzzy thought of which I’m not certain is the ignition switch on a BMW motorcycle I had.
I vaguely remember that switch as being CCW but after so many years I’m just not sure.

My Ford van had the ignition to the left of the steering wheel. I’ve never seen a vehicle where you turn the ignition CCW though. Maybe in Europe?

Other oddball things–my dad’s 1966 Toronado had the heater controls on the left of the wheel, and all Chrysler vehicles I’ve owned with mechanical odometers, the numbers “roll in” from the top, towards you as the miles click away, not from bottom to top, like most vehicles.

Yes sgtrock21…my 1958 Buick Century had the starter switch under the accelerator pedal. I remember it well. The ignition switch was on the dash.

I thought the neutral safety switch on the 1948 Pontiac with the Hydramatic automatic transmission was interesting. The starter was activated by a pedal on the floor above the accelerator. Stepping on the pedal also pushed down on the accelerator, pushed the starter pinion gear into the flywheel and then closed the switch sending power to the starter motor. On the Hydramatic equipped models, a lever from the starter pedal,put the selector in neutral. The shift sequence was,N D L R. There was no park position. The car was parked with the selector in reverse. Stepping on the starter moved the selector into N. This was,a great system–no starter solenoid to give problems–no neutral safety switch to act up. The 1949 Pontiac had a pushbutton on the dashboard to actvate the starter solenoid,and there was an electrical neutral safety switch. However, for one year, GM got it right in the 1948 Pontiac. By the way,_1948 was the first year for an automatic transmission in the Pontiac.

I guess we are a bunch of “senior citizens”?