Science behind not having 3 seats in first lane

in #car6 years ago

Most American cars used to. Originally, manual cars had a gear shifter behind the steering wheel which featured this:

Here is the 1951 Chevrolet Dash:

You can see the gear shifter behind the steering wheel.

This started phasing out in the 1970s in cars however, and in the 1980s in trucks.

In the mid 1970s, manufacturers started realising it was easier to put a gear lever in the middle of the front for both automatic and manual cars:

This is not only easier to use, but it makes a car chassis ambidextrous. Unfortunately, it also made it awkward to shift over anyone sitting in the middle.

In the 1960s, manufacturers really wanted to easily make cars with both steering wheels on the left and right for exports, without having to change much other than the steering wheel. One way to do this, was to put the gear shifter in the middle.

Additionally, the seat belt made it very difficult to accommodate a third passenger in the front. In the 1970s, the shoulder seat belt was new technology, and rope seatbelts weren’t that safe.

After the 1990s, it was still possible to find American cars with bench seats in the front. Namely, the Chevy Impala continued having a bench seat option until 2014:

In Japan, most Kei Cars have a bench seat in the front, albeit with only two seats instead of 3 (by law, Kei Cars cannot be more than 1.5 metres wide, so it is impossible to accommodate 3 in either the front or back). My brother and I rented a Daihatsu Move, and the bench seat in the front was like this, with a shifter sort of next to the steering wheel:

It is automatic though, so not that hard to deal with. I couldn’t imagine driving a manual version of that, if it even existed. In Japan, like in the UK, Jamaica, or Australia, they drive on the left so the steering wheel is on the right.

Also, the parking brake was sort of where the clutch would otherwise be, so I don’t know if a manual version would be even possible.

If you ever decide to drive in Japan, I do recommend the Daihatsu Move as a rental or for purchase (you can find used ones often for ¥80,000 (about $800 US)) and new ones run for as low as ¥1,500,000 ($15,000)), unless you need room for more than four people. They are a unique experience.

Zero to 100 kph (63mph) in as little as 45 seconds, getting passed as you enter the freeway...


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