What Ever Became of…Floor Switches?


There used to be this old joke I liked, you ask someone “Did you hear that the state is changing the law and making car companies move the dimmer switch from a column lever back to being a floor switch?”  Invariably, your mark will say no, and then: “Yeah, because too many Aggies were getting their feet stuck in the steering wheel trying to work the switch.”

Sort of lame, maybe, but also sort of believable back in the day on the set-up, because Texas tended to propose a lot of silly laws during the biennial legislative session.  But I say the joke used to be one I liked, because for one thing, nobody tells Aggie jokes any more, and for another thing, less and less people remember when the dimmer switch was on the floor and worked with your foot.  I have always preferred those old floor switches; I always found them quicker and easier to flip the high beams on and off when driving against an irregular traffic flow.  This might be because that’s the sort of thing I got used to driving older cars back when I first started driving, or it could be because my feet move faster than my hands, whatever that means.

Either way, there is certainly less and less to do with your feet in cars these days. I suppose once Google gets the Google Car+ going, we won’t have much to do with our hands either.  Until then, keep your hands at ten and two, firmly on the wheel, and consider—what ever happened to floor mounted hi-beam dimmer switches?

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  • My mom's '65 Lincoln had a floor switch that moved the radio station to your next pre-set. That made a hell of a lot more sense than having the choke cable terminate at a knob in the fold down ash tray. What ever happened to choke pulls?

    Back in the manual spark advance days, the starter motor was actuated by a foot switch. Start buttons are coming back into vogue, but not on the floor. What ever happened to spark advance levers?

    My IH Scout had an air bladder on the left side of the floorboard that pressurized the windshield washer. The Hi-Lo switch was there, too. And it had a clutch. What ever happened to my '63 Scout?

    I've had too much coffee. Wheeeee!

  • I always liked those too, until I had my F150 with a 5 speed and floor dimmer switch. There were a few times that I needed the clutch in and needed to dim the lights at the same time.

    • The Professor

      Learn to heel and toe, dammit!

      /hmmm, or maybe a clown shoe on your left foot….

  • The Professor

    I miss stomp switches in my vehicles. I wouldn't mind having a floor mounted starter switch again, the things help to keep you awake on long drives when you step on them by accident when stretching your legs.

  • OA5599
  • cruisintime

    Those floor switches were trouble , all the ice and slush.

    • B72

      Ice and slush wasn't too much of a problem unless the heater actually worked.

      • cruisintime

        You had a heater?

        • B72

          How else would you prevent the engine from overheating in the summer?

  • BlackIce_GTS

    Paddle shifted transmissions use almost the same gesture as highhead stalk switch beaming. Switch beam… high…

    Anyway, since they also remove the clutch pedal, it only makes sense to put the high beam switch back down there.

    I've never driven a paddle-shifted car, I wonder if it makes turn signal operation more of a reach. I tend to micromanage my turn signals.

  • sawermassey

    I don't have any experience (or knowledge) of foot switches. The only ones that I have come across are two adjacent foot switches which control the turn signals on city buses.

  • I mentioned this on Hooniverse a while ago, but what the heck, this isn't Hooniverse:

    My first car, a '59 Ford Custom 300, had for the left foot: a parking brake, a windshield washer squeeze bulb (which, if depressed far enough, also turned on the vacuum wipers for a single pass), a dimmer switch, and a clutch pedal. For the right foot: a brake pedal, an accelerator pedal, and a button under the accelerator pedal for kicking down the overdrive while passing. Five functions for the left foot and three for the right. Try telling that to kids these days….

    • cruisintime

      Get off my lawn…

    • No option to change the radio station? My '67 Imperial had a sort of seek button on the floor.

      • Ford didn't offer that in '59, just Town and Country signal-seeking buttons on the radio itself (which mine didn't have).

  • adev

    stupid americans…