Ever take a close look at the door handles on your car – or anyone else’s, for that matter? Unless you are a professional locksmith or car thief, probably not. A trip to the hot rod or classic car show will be a good opportunity to start your studies.
The door is necessary to let you in or out ( Unless you own a fibreglass T-bucket and are young enough to vault over the side…) and just as important is some way to open and close it. And lock it too, if you live in one of he outer suburbs.
The original makers provided rather elegant handles for this – they are reminiscent of the latches and pulls on furniture and building doors. The advantage they have is that they stand well out from the bodywork and are unashamedly meant to provide a twist with considerable power. Even if the bolt is ill-fitting or rusty, you can get enough leverage with one of these to shift it. They’re sealed too – no water or dust in through a body opening.
Some rodders have sleeked the side of their cars by removing chrome strips, badges, and machine-gun pintles. To reflect this streamlining they fit flush handles that either pull up in the modern manner or out in a slightly older style. The pull-out design needs more opening for the actuator and means it never really seals the door.
Even sleeker is no handle at all – just an actuator button or a metal lock. This is visually appealing but leaves you with the dilemma of having to shove your fingers into the door crack and pull – paintwork suffers. If you are incautious, your fingers suffer.
I’m happy to report that the modern daily drivers are all pretty well served by the door handle design bureau. The green Suzuki handle has survived 5 years without looking mankey and the grip well in the door makes it easy to get your hand in there even if you are wearing welding gloves. The plastic Toyota grip plate is sleeker, but the colour breaks up the appearance of the door.
I envy some of the Dodge and Chrysler drivers – they seem to have gotten chrome and boot lid handles. Chrome is good.