Mercedes’ Wild F200 Concept Ditched The Steering Wheel Decades Ago And Still Looks Fresh

Joysticks were a common feature on gaming systems in the ’90s, but no one really expected to see one bolted to the center console of their car. Still, in what was perhaps its quirkiest attempt at innovation, Mercedes decided to do it anyway. In 1996, the automaker came up with the Mercedes-Benz F200 Imagination, a concept car that doesn’t have a steering wheel but does have a stick in the middle that you can grab and point towards where you’d like to go. The joysticks control steering, braking, and throttle, so there’s no need for pedals, either.

An archived snap of the Daimer website shows that the joysticks operated through a drive-by-wire design. The car also had an “electro-transparent panoramic glass roof,” gullwing doors, bi-xenon headlights, the world’s first window airbag, cameras instead of mirrors, “active body control,” and the ability to control the driver’s cell phone with their voice. Visually, it’s still a beautiful car; the lines are sleek, the roof is amazing, and to non-trypophobia sufferers, the wheels look pretty cool.

The F200 Imagination, which is valued at around $10 million, was recently spotted being unloaded and driven into position at the London Concours. The driver seemed fairly adept with the unusual controls, although there were one or two movements that seemed a little jerky. Shockingly the concept didn’t catch on. There was no full production run, and you won’t see a joystick-steered car on the roads in 2022.

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