Starting up a Porsche – Why is the ignition key on the left?

For those who have had the chance to sit in a Porsche, a characteristic that likely surprised you was the placement of the ignition key. Whereas other manufacturers place the ignition key slot on the right of the steering wheel, Porsche has theirs on the dashboard panel left of the steering wheel.

Why would that be?

The answer lies in the brand’s motorsport history – in the quest to gain every split second possible on the racetrack.

Porsche race cars on display

When Motorsport heritage defines design

The Porsche brand has some of the most sought-after sports cars on the planet and boasts a worldwide community of loyal owners and fans. This is thanks to not only the quality sports cars the brand has produced, but also their legendary heritage – and continued success – in the world of motorsport.

With 19 wins, Porsche holds the record for the most race victories at Le Mans. This record is a testament to the brand’s ability to develop tremendous race cars both in terms of speed and reliability, but also to how Porsche engineers can think “outside of the box” to gain precious seconds on the track.

In this case, the racetrack is the Circuit de la Sarthe, home to the 24 hours of Le Mans, held there since 1923. This endurance race, along with the Indianapolis 500 and the Monaco Grand Prix, forms the ‘Triple Crown’ of the three most prestigious motor races in the world.

Historically, races at Le Mans were started on foot – meaning drivers had to run to their cars, start the engine and race away. Porsche engineers figured out that by having the ignition key slot on the left, precious time could be saved at the start, as drivers could use their left hand to start their engine while their right hand was simultaneously engaging first gear.

A crowd gathers around vintage Porsche race cars at the Porsche Rennsport reunion

Tradition geared towards innovation

Porsche is always looking at the road ahead in terms of technology while remaining true to their heritage and brand values, and the location of the ignition key is a fitting way to exemplify this. It’s an homage to the brand’s history while at the same time being a symbol of ingenuity and forward thinking.

This commitment to success and attention to detail is what draws so many to love the Porsche brand, and our team at the Wyant Group is excited to see how Porsche will continue to produce fantastic sports cars that are both in touch with tradition and geared towards innovation.

Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car