A man is holding an oversized key with a Volkswagen symbol in his hands. The key was part of a symbolic exchange.
We celebrate diversity here at Jalopnik, since diversity brings innovation, excitement, and titillating new flavors. Something that seems as dull as a car key can be reshaped, reinvented, and reimagined into something beautiful. This list celebrates that diversity and innovation in the widely varied world of automotive keys.
Tesla Model X’s Tesla-Model-X-Shaped Key Fob
I chose to include the Tesla Model X’s autological key fob because of its unique button arrangement. The key looks like a Model X, and to open either of the rear falcon doors, users just click the corresponding side of the little toy car and the doors open. This design is unique and very user-friendly.
(GERMANY OUT) Miniaturauto, VW Kaefer Cabrio, und eine Hand mit Autoschluessel, a midget-car, VW Beetle cabriolet and a hand holding the car key
I absolutely love these classic Volkswagen mkeys that incorporate the brands’ roundel into the keys bow, or the handle part of the key. It’s a design that is simple, elegant, distinctive and effective.
BMW’s Massive Display Key
BMW’s Display key debuted in 2016 and took inspiration from smartphones with a sizable LCD touchscreen to bring more functions to the traditional car key. This key allowed users to set climate controls from up to 1000 feet away, and it allowed cars to be parked remotely. Thankfully this massive key was replaced by smartphone apps.
Jaguar’s Tibbe Key
I remember seeing this key as a kid and being perplexed by it. Its cylindrical shaft is truly unique when compared to other modern keys, and it actually resembles a skeleton key more than other car keys. This style of key was introduced on the Merkur Scorpio and was later brought to other Ford products and even Lotus.
Hyundai’s H Logo Key
Hyundai’s recent key fob stands out as an effective way of incorporating the brand’s logo into the key without inhibiting usability. Aside from the effective integration of the logo, the ice blue buttons look very premium when paired with the brushed aluminum-look plastic of the fob.
Bugatti’s Top Speed Key
Bugatti’s Chiron Super Sport cars are very special, but without this special key they will not achieve their top speed of 273 miles per hour (or 300, if it’s a Super Sport 300+), instead they’re only able to reach an embarrassingly slow 236 miles per hour. When this special key is put into the Chiron Super Sport’s slot next to the driver’s seat, the car lowers itself, closes the diffuser flaps, and places the spoiler in the necessary position to achieve its mind-boggling top speed.
Dodge’s Red Hellcat Key
Similar to the Bugatti’s key, the 797-horsepower Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat was sold with two keys. The black key limits this beast’s horsepower output to a measly 500 hp and 4000 rpm. Given the volatility of that amount of horsepower going to the rear wheels, it’s probably smart that there’s an option to limit the chaos.
Lotus Eletre Pebble Key
Lotus is a company that’s undergoing a lot of change, and the Eletre is its first SUV. While the Eletre comes with this little pebble fob that has a single button, most owners will use their phone as a key, as with many other new EVs.
Pagani Huayra RBC Key
Another key that’s shaped like the car it unlocks, this $6,000 key fob has a special home in the center console inside the car. It also obscures an older Mercedes-Benz key under the stylish exterior to allow access when the car’s battery dies.
This aluminum Koenigsegg shield allows access to the breathtaking car that is the CCXR. It has a single rubber button to arm and disarm the car, and it might be the coolest key on this list.
Kia Stinger’s Detonator Key
Kia’s detonator key is not the most groundbreaking key on this list, but it has one of the coolest functions. Unlike most car keys, this key design forces users to hold it differently than most other keys, with a big fat lock button that’s primed for an epic thumb-press-and-walk-away scene in which you pretending you’re in an action movie.
Aston Martin Emotional Control Unit
Aston Martin is never a brand to shy away from something a bit flashy. Used on cars like the 2000s V8 Vantage and DB9, the “Emotional Control Unit” incorporates a fat slab of crystal with a laser-etched Aston Martin emblem that must be inserted into a prominent slot at the top of the dashboard to start the car. This placement and design show a true celebration of all that is Aston Martin.
Mercedes-Benz’s Switchblade Key
I always loved stealing peoples’ Volkswagen keys in high school to fidget with the switchblade key function, but this technology was introduced by Mercedes-Benz way back in 1990. Though this design didn’t last long for Mercedes-Benz, Volkswagen took it and ran, still offering some cars with this style of key today.
Tesla Model 3’s Phone As Key
The Tesla logo can be seen on a smartphone against a red background.
Tesla, unsurprisingly, reinvented how we all perceive car keys. With the option of using a credit-card-like “key” to access and drive your Model 3, most owners employ Phone As Key technology to effectively eliminate the function of a traditional key. When you walk up to your car with your phone in your pocket, the car unlocks. To drive, press the brake and shift into drive and you’re on your way. The future is now, and it’s not unlocked by some old fashioned key.
More from Jalopnik