My first car was a 1999 SAAB 9 5, silver with black leather interior. It was actually on loan to me from my brother (as pretty much everything I "owned" at 17 was) while he was overseas. He had bought it from a SAAB enthusiasts, so it came as a single owner car, meaning pretty much everything was working and intact. When I first got in it, I was totally fascinated by the intricate system that was the dashboard and center counsel. It just so happens that SAAB actually started out as SAAB AB, an aerospace company that in 1945 began producing cars. This was one of the facts my brother had pointed out when we would talk about the interior and its unique layout, and we both agreed this car was ahead of it's time when it first came out.
So much of car design is in the details, and these details can shape so much of our behavior, for example something as simple as closing and opening the windows. One of the interesting features on the SAAB was the placement of the window buttons. Along with the key ignition, all four lived in the what I would say is the center of the car, the space between the stick shift, and the center compartment. Being that I was used to American cars, it took some time for me to get used to this little change, but after some time I also noticed some nice perks to it being there.
I can only assume that when the designers at SAAB put these things here, they did it with the intention of organizing a behavior that happens routinely. A person gets in, places the key in the ignition, pulls the break down, then turns the car on and then opens the windows. By placing these functions together, the driver never has to take his hand away from the gear shift and it reduces time in something that happens over and over again. Something about this decision always stuck with me, it was just so simple, and made sense. Although it took me a couple weeks to completely break from my habit of looking to the drivers door and under the steering wheel when doing this routine, once I had it, it stuck.
When it came time to close the windows, anyone in the car had the ability to reach to the center of the car to do so. Yes, this is a really simple detail, but why should doing these simple things be any more complex than they have to be.
How about when you need to open the trunk or the gas lid. Ever have that moment.... you know, the one where you spend 20 minutes trying to find where the two levers, hinges, or buttons have gone. Then you have to figure out how they operate as well. Well no worries, because the SAAB designers solved this problem back in the 90s. Two large buttons, right where you exit out of the car.
Life was so simple back then.