Is it possible to install one of those old foot-operated dimmer switches in a modern car?
I got my first driver's license in New York City in 1942, so I've been driving for a while. In those years, cars were heavy and primitive, but they all had one feature in
common that I miss: a foot-operated dimmer switch to the left of the clutch pedal. I find today's hand-operated dimmer switches a nuisance. You have to take your left
hand from the wheel and fumble for the switch every time you want to dim the lights or activate the high beams. A foot switch is always right there -- instant and easy.
Do you know if I could get one of those foot switches installed in my car now? -- Werner
TOM: Well, you can certainly buy the switch itself. Just go to your auto parts store and ask for a switch for a '42 Buick. Or a '72 Buick, for that matter. They were
widely used until about 20 years ago, and stores still stock them.
RAY: Getting it put in is a little bit more difficult. You'd have to find someone who specializes in automotive electrical systems -- someone who has the wiring diagram
for you car and can actually READ it. He would have to cut the high-beam wires and route them to the floor instead of the stalk.
TOM: It can be done if you're really determined to have a foot switch, but it's a pretty big pain in the neck, Werner.
RAY: I'd recommend against it. I think you're having a little nostalgic flare-up. My brother has these. Because HE was better back in the '50s and '60s, he now imagines
that EVERYTHING was better back in the '50s and '60s. And he's wrong. Cars -- for one thing -- are much better today, as a rule.
TOM: And today's dimmer switches actually don't require that you take your hand off the wheel. You should be able to keep good control of the wheel with your palm
and thumb while activating the dimmer switch on the stalk with your four free fingers. It's really not a bad setup.
RAY: I think it's time to come into the new millennium, Werner. Embrace the dimmer switch on the stalk. Embrace electric windows and heated seats. Break out that
new Christina Aguilera CD and get jiggy. You can do it, Werner. You're younger than you think.