Here Are 11 Craziest Car Steering Wheels In Automotive History

Round steering wheel? Boring.

Cover image via Classic Driver & Morio

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Sony recently gave people a shock by using a video game controller to drive a car

While showing off its new AFEELA electric car at CES 2024, Sony made the presentation interesting by remotely controlling the car using a PlayStation 5 DualSense controller. The concept electric vehicle (EV) is a collaboration between Honda and Sony.

Check out the AFEELA in the video below:

It's crazy to see a car being driven using a video game controller

However, believe it or not, that is not the craziest steering input by a long shot. Over the years, car manufacturers have made wacky steering designs that are completely out of this world. From joysticks to outright eyebrow-raisers, we have compiled a list of the craziest steering inputs in automotive history.

Here are some of the craziest steering wheel designs in history:

1. Lancia Orca — All your switches are on the wheel

The Lancia Orca, a prototype car created by Italian manufacturer Lancia, was developed by Italdesign Giugaro and featured mechanics derived from the Lancia Delta Integrale. Unveiled at the Turin Motor Show in 1982, this five-door hatchback boasted compact dimensions and a sleek design with a drag coefficient of 0.245, courtesy of Giugiaro's smooth edges and glass surface.

The Orca's steering wheel was laden with buttons and inputs such as the lights, wipers, air-conditioning, heater, and more. During its era, this wacky steering wheel was considered to be futuristic, especially with its sci-fi intrument cluster flanking the wheel. In retrospect, the overly-complicated steering wheel is better left in its era. 

2. Maserati Boomerang — Everything is in the middle

Image via Car Revs Daily

The Maserati Boomerang, showcased briefly at the 1971 Turin Motor Show, existed as a singular prototype, later officially presented at the Swiss show in 1972 as a fully functional registered vehicle. Utilising a Maserati Bora as its foundation, the Boomerang, designed by Italdesign, featured a centrally positioned eight-cylinder rear engine with a 90° layout, boasting a displacement of 4,719cc. With a power output of 310hp, it could achieve an impressive top speed of nearly 300km/h. The rear-wheel drive was paired with a five-speed gearbox.

The Boomerang's steering wheel sports a uniquely mounted wheel. Instead of a centre-mounted wheel like a conventional car, the Boomerang's wheel is mounted in a circular fashion, with the centre of the wheel being populated by the switches and the instrument cluster.

Image via Maserati

3. Aston Martin Lagonda — Unique single-spoke design

Image via Matsuda/Flickr

In October 1976, Aston Martin introduced an impressive new model designed by William Towns — a revolutionary four-door Lagonda featuring cutting-edge solid-state digital instrumentation, a groundbreaking concept for its time. The Lagonda garnered significant attention, generating substantial publicity for Aston Martin, and orders poured in swiftly, particularly from the Middle East market.

While the Lagonda's steering wheel looks absolutely sublime in that colour combination, its shape and one-spoked design screamed for the driver's attention, which is not bad given that the driver will be staring at a seamless and smooth dashboard, and a futuristic instrument cluster.

Image via Aston Martin

4. Citroën Karin — There's a telephone on the steering wheel

Unveiled at the 1980 Paris Motor Show, the Karin concept was a hastily conceived idea by Citroën. Facing a lack of showcase material for the event, the company approached designer Trevor Fiore to create a visually striking vehicle on short notice. The Karin made a bold entrance, capturing attention and sparking curiosity.

The distinctive truncated pyramid design, featuring flush glass panels, was the standout feature that drew considerable attention, despite its partial resemblance to the 1978 Lancia Sibilo.

The wacky design did not end there. The 'A' shaped steering wheel houses a telephone in the middle of the wheel. Yes, you read that right, an actual telephone.

5. Lamborghini Athon — The steering wheel looks like it's 'floating'

Image via Design Boom

At the 58th Turin Motor Show in April 1980, Bertone revealed a new concept car built on a Lamborghini chassis — a somewhat unconventional choice given Lamborghini's precarious financial situation at the time. The press release from the Turin coachbuilder explicitly expressed Bertone's desire to support the struggling company.

A distinctive feature of the car worth highlighting is its unique steering wheel and touch screen panels. The steering wheel stands out with a design featuring a single spoke. Notably, there is a pod positioned to the left of the steering wheel, serving as a designated space for secondary controls. This arrangement adds to the ergonomic and functional aspects of the vehicle's interior.

If you look close and long enough, you'll also notice that the gear selector looks like a steak knife.

Image via Sothesbys

6. Honda EV-STER — Fighter jet controls are so cool

Image via Morio

The EV-STER is an innovative electric two-seater convertible sports car with rear-wheel drive, offering a distinctive experience in the realm of electromotive mobility. Utilising carbon materials has played a key role in minimising the vehicle's weight, thereby enhancing its driving performance and providing an impressive range of around 160 kilometres. To ensure a delightful driving experience, the EV-STER featured an easily manoeuvrable twin-lever steering system.

If you want to feel like you're in a fighter jet, then this is exactly the car you should be driving. The sci-fi setup is not only for looks — each of the panels are functional and serves as the instrument cluster, providing the pilot/driver with essential information as they speed along.

Image via Honda

7. Mazda MX-03 — Another fighter jet inspired car

Image via Motor 1

The MX-03 2+2 coupé from Mazda existed purely as a concept, boasting a theoretical top speed of 290km/h. This was made possible by its 1,962cc tri-rotor turbo rotary engine, churning out 315hp, and its aerodynamic body style achieving a drag coefficient of 0.25. With features like a single mirror and an integrated rear wing, the MX-03 could accelerate from 0 to 100km/h in just 4.7 seconds.

Another fighter jet inspired driver's cockpit, the steering 'wheel' looks like it was taken directly from a fighter jet and installed into the car. The LCD screen also lended the car its modern feel.

Image via Story Cars

8. Subaru XT — Weirdly shaped like an inverted 'L'

Image via u/camus_absurd

The Subaru XT, a wedge-shaped coupe from the 1980s, was offered in both front-wheel and all-wheel-drive configurations.

Renowned for its exceptional aerodynamics, it sported an aircraft-inspired cockpit, complete with a joystick shifter that facilitated on-demand four-wheel drive activation. One distinctive feature was the asymmetrical steering wheel, characterised by inverted 'L' centre spokes and a notable thumb rest, designed for an optimal quarter-to-three driving grip. However, its successor, the SVX, returned to a more conventional steering wheel design.

Image via CarBuzz

9. Citroën DS — A single-spoke steering wheel for 'safety'

Image via Citroenvie

The innovative design of the DS extended to every detail, including its unique steering wheel. A single spoke connected the rim to the dashboard, providing an unobstructed view of the dials. This design was not only aesthetically distinctive but also aimed to improve safety in the event of a crash, particularly in an era predating the widespread use of airbags.

Image via Citroenvie

10. Oldsmobile Incas — The 'wheel' looks like it was taken straight out of Star Wars

Image via The Drive

Among all of the fighter jet inspired steering 'wheels', this one takes the cake. In fact, the entire Oldsmobile concept car exhibits a profile that evokes the design of a fighter jet cockpit. This resemblance is characterised by a prominent glass bubble enveloping the occupants and the positioning of the mid-rear engine.

Image via Auto Evolution

11. Lancia Stratos Sibilo — We have no idea what that is...

Image via Classic Driver

In Italian, the term 'sibilo' refers to the hissing sound produced by an object moving swiftly through the air. This name proved fitting for another avant-garde concept car by Bertone in 1978, this time derived from a road-worthy version of the Lancia Stratos, which had achieved success in the World Rally Championship.

We have no idea what that... thing is supposed to be. It doesn't look like a conventional steering wheel, yet it's described to be a steering wheel. The center of the 'wheel' houses the input buttons for the other functions such as the lights and so on. Motor1 describes the steering wheel to be 'ergonomic' and it makes the driver 'feel like they're touching a person's palm'.

We're not really sure that we want to feel that way while driving. 

Image via Classic Driver

Which steering input do you think is the wackiest?

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