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Old 02-26-2015, 06:20 PM
The Arkansas Traveler The Arkansas Traveler is offline
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Default Why the left hand key on fords?

My first Ford was a 1970 F350 Flatbed w/a 370. Still have it. I was surprised by the key being on the left side of the dash. Thought that maybe it was a farm thing. Put it in granny gear and walk along as you toss bales on the bed. Reach in and turn it off if you need. Done in large fields. When we got the bird, my theory was out the window. So why is the ignition key on the left side on the "early" Fords and when did they move to the right? I figure the fact that it is not on the steering column will deter the modern car thief for at least a couple of minutes. Long enough to get a sight and drop a hammer Just curious.
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Old 02-27-2015, 12:02 PM
Harry LePargneux Harry LePargneux is offline
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Another member thought the left key position was to allow you to wiggle the gear shift with your right hand while starting your car. Keep one foot on the brake!
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Old 02-27-2015, 01:04 PM
Joe Johnston Joe Johnston is offline
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I was told in the day it was one of Ford's safety ideas to keep passengers or children from being able to reach and turn off the ignition.
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Old 02-27-2015, 04:06 PM
The Arkansas Traveler The Arkansas Traveler is offline
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Default Left hand key

I have wondered if it was from the "early" days when you were pulling out the choke and pehaps even advancing the spark by hand if you wanted to go back that far. Older models also had the starter motor switch on the floor as well. My wife looked at me like I was crazy when I explaned the button on the floor of the T-Bird was the bright/dim for the headlights. She seems to look at me as though I am crazy most of the time.
Russell Cothren
1960 Thunderbird hardtop
1970 F 350 flatbed
"They are all crazy, we just have our favorites"
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Old 02-27-2015, 04:32 PM
Ca58tbird Ca58tbird is offline
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I maybe recall hearing my father tell me back in my early childhood days during the '60s that the key was over there cause it was out of my reach. That was before seatbelts & child car seats in the back seat.

One of Porche's claims to racing prowess was that their car's keys are on the left and the shift lever is on the right. That way you're able to get in and get going faster on a LeMann's start. Turn the key with the left, shift with your right and steer with your left knee.

I have also heard about the throwback to earler times when the manual choke was on the right and the key was on the left. This causes me to wonder though, cause my '48 Dodge has the key, the shift lever and the manual choke all on the right side. Guess Dodge never made any claim to winning races.

Maybe the real reason that Ford had the keys on the left and all the other car manufactures put the keys on the right was just simply that the Ford engineer in charge of dashboard design and layout had suffered from dyslexia. Or perhap it was that ADHD had not yet been diagnosed as a treatable malady back in the 50s and 60s.
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Old 02-27-2015, 05:00 PM
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jopizz jopizz is online now
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Back then it was way more important to put the cigarette lighter on the right side.

John Pizzi - Squarebirds Administrator
1959 Convertible

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Old 02-27-2015, 06:13 PM
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Early Pontiac Tempest and GTOs had keys on the LH side as well. I had a '66, but here's a picture of a '64:
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Old 02-27-2015, 10:14 PM
Astrowing Astrowing is offline
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My dad also said that he thought it was a safety thing from the days when the front seat was a bench seat and a kid was typically in the center. The keys would have been right in front of them.

I think the best answer is the manual choke. It sure is much more natural to use key with left hand and right hand on choke. I modulate the choke on my 61 F100. Typically it doesn't need full choke.

When they went to auto chokes across the Ford lines in either 1964 or 1965 I believe, keys moved to the right.

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Old 02-28-2015, 08:52 AM
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Dan Leavens Dan Leavens is offline
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Jed thanks for the chuckles on your explanations of the engineer. I am of the belief that " safety " was probably the reason or Ford like others just wanted to be different. Whatever the reason it is unique
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