The evolution of car keys you need to know

Since the inception of the modern cars, keys have always played an integral part that brings your car to life. But with the advent of new technologies, they may soon become obsolete to the future generation. With that in mind, here we would like to share with you some highlights of its evolution.



In 1949, Chrysler introduced the modern key that starts the car with a turn of the ignition tumbler.


In 1965, Ford brought out its double-sided key that is still used today in many modern cars. It has cuts on both sides, allowing it to be inserted into the tumbler in either orientation.


In 1986, Chevrolet added a coded resistor to the key that is needed to start the Corvette. This Car Anti-Theft System trickled down to most GM cars by the 1990s.


One of the early adopters of the factory-installed remote entry capable of locking and unlocking the doors came about in 1987. At the time, it was used by the Cadillac Allanté.


The Tibbe key made its first appearance in the 1989 Merkur Scorpio before being widely used by Jaguar in the 1990s and made its way into many Ford products.


The Lexus LS400 is one of the first to use the laser-cut key in 1990. This design provides an additional layer of security, mainly because it is difficult to replicate.


In the same year, the Mercedes SL introduced a ‘switchblade’ key that flips out of an integrated remote-locking fob. The design would be widely copied and continues to be used in most modern Volkswagens.


In 1993, GM experimented with proximity-key technology in the Chevrolet Corvette. The Passive Keyless Entry system could automatically lock and unlock the doors simply by detecting the fob close by.


The first fully functional proximity key design is short-lived. Made for the 2003 model year to fit in a wallet like a credit card, Mercedes’ Smart Card lacks durability. A year later, Mercedes-Benz adapts the technology to work in a more robust fob.


Remote start has been available in the aftermarket world for years, but in 2004, GM is the first carmaker to offer the technology direct from the factory for its Chevrolet Malibu, which forever changed the way we warm and cool our cars.


BMW’s modern Display key makes its debut on the 7-series in 2016 and attempts to mimic a smartphone by adding an LCD touchscreen. Check it out HERE.


Last year, BMW has teamed up with Montblanc, Bowers & Wilkins and Moleskin to create a range of new lifestyle accessories for 2017 BMW 5 Series owners. They get a wristband key! Have you seen it yet? Click HERE!


You may never receive your Model 3, but you might already have the key. This year (2018), Tesla’s smartphone app makes BMW’s Display key as obsolete and frivolous as a pair of Google glasses.


Using Bluetooth low energy, the app is always running in the background, mimicking a proximity key. A credit-card-style key bails you out when your phone battery inevitably dies.


*This article is adapted from HERE.

*Photos are courtesy of Google Image Search

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