Pg7-1

Toggle Turn-On

From Moss Motoring 1985

Toggle switches turn me on.

There is undoubtedly something pro­foundly Freudian in this attachment to toggles. But there is no way I want to get into that.

Pg7-1Slide switches are disdained. Push but­tons are but tolerated, rockers remind one of the safety fanatics’ fondness for bland switching devices. The Austin America had rocker switches, right? Nuff said.

Give me a row of toggles, and I’m happy.

I think it all goes back to those World War II fighter planes in the movies. The dashing pilot would drop down into the cockpit, buckle up his harness, and begin flipping toggle switches, some of them over his head even!

The P-38’s engines would snarl into action as the toggle switches were snapped, and it would soon be too bad for the Axis.

Donald Healey ceased production of the Austin-Healey when British Leyland insisted on using rockers instead of toggle switches. (How’s that for revi­sionist history?)

Oh, how many times have I thrilled a passenger by deftly throwing the over­drive switch with my thumb as I ac­celerate out of a back country curve?

Of course this backhand bravado has too often resulted in the windscreen wipers coming on in bright sunshine, but ignore that.

A fascia full of toggle switches denotes the true macho motorist. Give me enough toggle switches and a place to sit, and I will move the world!

Think about it. Didn’t everything on this planet start to go downhill right after toggle switches were abandoned? Toggle switches and Burma-Shave signs. Nothing’s been the same since.

By John C. LaMonte


'Toggle Turn-On' have 6 comments

  1. July 10, 2013 @ 4:33 pm Joe Borghese

    John,
    Agreed! The Hazard rocker switch in my MGB just cracked and now I have a good reason to disassemble the dash and replace all the rockers with toggles. I’ll add a few more like one to control the electric fan (who needs a thermostat, I can read the temp gauge). I have another marque that I rescued (let’s just say it is from a country on the other side during the Great War) where it was necessary to bypass many of the black boxes with a neat row of toggle switches in the center console. Only a select few (who I instruct) know which controls what (fuel pump, starting valve, radiator fan, heater valve, AC compressor) so working the car requires attention to what is going on working the swithches like a pipe organ soloist. I believe it is the positive “click”, the visual feedback of its position and the ease of moving it that make the toggle switch so satisfying. I think for me it was looking inside the Mercury and Gemini capsules as a kid and seeing the rows of gaurded toggle switches used to control a spacecraft…I wanted my own spacecraft, so my MG will have to suffice.

    Reply

  2. July 26, 2013 @ 7:14 am Brian Dubin

    John,
    Remined me of a friend’s XKE with whole row of unlabeled toggle switches. I asked how he knew which one control what and he replied it didn’t matter because nothing worked.

    Reply

  3. July 26, 2013 @ 7:20 am Larry

    I also have had a life long love affair with the toggle switch. Mine came about my junior year in high school. There were 4 of us, all good close friends. One was given a 1955 Chevy and we decided to restore it. We each took an area of ”expertise” (as expert as a 16-17 yr old can be) and mine ended up being the electrical system.

    We decided to make the cockpit look like a airplane and so everything was controlled by toggles. I can’t remember exactly how many we ended up with but when you control each turn signal, brake light, radio, dash lights (you get the idea) with a separate toggle, we ended up with several rows and columns. In fact I (we) figured out a way to set it up so the car wouldn’t start unless the proper switches were flipped before, yes, you got it, the toggle for the starter motor was activated.

    I’m about to start the wiring restore on my ’63 Mk1 and have already started looking forward to replacing all the switches with, of course, toggle switches. (Fortunately the Mk1 came with mostly toggles which is probably the reason I fell in love with it in the beginning)

    Reply

  4. July 26, 2013 @ 12:31 pm JOHN WOOLRIDGE JR

    I HAD THE OPERTUNITY LAST SATURDAY FOR A ROAD TRIP IN A FRIENDS TR-6. IT WAS ONE OF THE LAST ONES WITH ALL THE SAFETY ROCKER SWITCHES. I THANKED HIM FOR A GREAT BRITISH AUTO EXPERIENCE AND TOLD HIM WE SHOULD REPLACE ALL THE SWITCHES WITH MGB TOGGLES. THANK YOU.
    JACK

    Reply

  5. July 26, 2013 @ 3:11 pm Peter Tilbury

    John,
    I love toggles too. I have 6 fitted to the dash on our MGA Coupe, and three push buttons. The toggles have a modern touch – the ends of the switch have an LED in them so they show red when turned on. Of course, down is on, not the NA convention.
    The Coupe is a replica rally car from the 50s/60s, so the switches are labelled with Dymo tape. Do you remember that invention?
    Peter.

    Reply

  6. July 27, 2013 @ 11:04 am Charles Shnkwiler

    Why did MGB remove the light toggle and replace with the push washer pump?

    Reply


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