I'm not sure which car to blame, the Honda S2000 or the Bentley Turbo R.
But I'm pretty sure one of those was the first to do away with the oh-so-clever 'old-fashioned' ignition switch - push in the key, one click to the right for ignition, one more for 'run', and one more against a spring-load to work the starter.
If we didn't have that and someone invented it, they'd give him a Nobel Prize.
It has been a short step from there to these damned transponder key systems.
And therein hangs yet another tale...
I did a little TSD (Time Speed Distance) car rally last Sunday, the 'Mini-Monte', organized by three different car clubs. Each started from its own home base, and joined together for the final leg to Pinehurst Conservation Area south of Cambridge.
I drove it in a new Chrysler 300S, a very nice vehicle which has one of these transponder systems.
I parked the car, and for whatever reason (can't remember), tried to re-start it with the door part-way open.
“No Key Detected”.
WHAT? Where the hell is the 'key'?
I had it when we left Georgetown - couldn't have left without it. We never shut the car off between then and here; did it maybe fall out of my pocket as I ran back to get our checkpoint time verified?
In which case, it might be anywhere.
Soon, several people were searching the car. But that was pointless because if it WAS in the car, it would have been detected!
Great. Do I have to get this thing flat-bedded back to Chrysler? Where's my CAA card again?
Then the amazingly awesome (her own description, with which I concur...) Lorraine Sommerfeld, ex of this very newspaper, started rummaging around in the driver's door map pocket.
There it was.
I of course had done a 'man-look' for it in that very spot; it seems it was actually buried underneath something else!
But the question then became - why didn't the car detect it?
Turns out IF the door is open to the first 'detente' - where the door stays open by itself - AND the transponder is either in the cup holder or the very front part of the map pocket (below), it is close enough to one of the five antennae in the car to be recognized.
Two, maybe three cm away (below), and no...
Happy Ending as it turned out, but Major Angst too.
We had a similar problem some years ago when editor Mark Richardson was turning over a Prius to Gerry Malloy. As I recall the story, Mark drove Gerry and himself to his house in Milton, and Gerry took the car on to his house in Orono, half-way to Peterborough.
He shut the car off - but of course couldn't start it again because the transponder was in Mark's pocket in Milton...
Yeah yeah, most cars (now, anyway, if not then...) beep at you if you drive away without the transponder.
But cars beep at you all the time these days - who pays attention to all those beeps?
And I gather that some cars now will allow ONE re-start without the transponder present, but that surely represents a security risk.
Seriously; what was SO wrong about needing to have the key in the friggin' dashboard, so you ALWAYS knew where it was?
I'm all for new technology, but this makes no sense to me. What does this system offer that forcing you to actually put the key somewhere does not?
Comments as always welcome...