Monday, July 21, 2014

Evolution of Door Handles

Everybody knows about the evolution of dance, but the less well-known evolution of the door handle is nearly as impressive. In the ever more competitive automotive industry design is playing a bigger and bigger role even in previously mundane segments. Likewise, it's not enough anymore to simply to have a great profile to have a striking design, individual design elements such as head lights, tail lights, grilles and even door handles play a role. Even as one of the most functional and simple parts on a car, it is surprising to see the evolution of door handle design over the past couple decades and the way the industry quickly switches from one design to another as it gains popularity. Once just an afterthought, handles have become quite stylish in the last couple of years.

The 1990s were dominated by the "flap" door handles on nearly every make and model. Made of simple black plastic on cheaper models they also came in body color on slightly more upscale models. Mounted fairly flush to the door it can be said that whatever style they brought to the table was definitely offset by a fairly poor ergonomic design. Over time the "flap" door handle were phased out by nearly every manufacturer in favor of the "grab and pull" type. In fact, only a couple of models still have these handles. Since the early 2000s the grab handles became the standard, bringing easier access to the mundane task of opening doors. However with all of their benefits the grab handles do tend to stick out from the door making for an unsightly visual. Enter the retractable flush mounted door handle seen previously on Aston Martins, the Nissan GT-R and a few others. Featuring a slightly different design, the Tesla Model S has certainly brought the hidden door handle design mainstream. Not only do they bring in a clean and unique look, but it could certainly be said that there are some aerodynamic benefits as well to hidden door handles. It's not hard to see more models joining the hidden handle movement and a few years from now this is likely to be the dominant type.


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