What began as a functional item for preventing unauthorised use of your car has undergone a dramatic revolution in the last 30 years.
Before we all start using smartphone apps to access our cars, we’re taking a look at the coolest car keys ever made.
Long before other manufacturers identified that a cool key was a branding opportunity, VW was stamping its logo in the metal key blade.
Although few drivers knew it, Ford provided MyKey functionality with its Fiesta from 2013 onwards – as well as with Figo Titanium models.
It allowed owners to restrict and limit the top speed and even reduce the maximum volume of the audio system to minimise distractions.
The audio system could also be disabled completely if the passengers were not using safety belts.
The Kia Stinger is a unique car.
Not only does it rival the BMW 440i and Mercedes-AMG C43, the key accompanying the car gives the driver a tactile experience.
With a remote-detonator feel as a lock button at the top corner, this is a pretty cool key.
Since the early 2000s, the Mini has stuck to an unusually shaped key echoing the theme in the rest of the car.
While it might not be the most aesthetically pleasing fob to look at, these sorts of small details make a sometimes-regular car feel rather special.
Despite the move to card and app-based keys, Tesla drivers still get a physical key shaped like the car they’ve bought.
Tapping on the various parts of the vehicle open the corresponding doors or trunks.
And if the driver opts for the car or app-based openers, the original key would not look out of place as a mini-model on a desk or in a cabinet.
In the late 2000s, Aston Martin dropped its rebranded Volvo keys for something more fitting of a supercar – the Emotion Control Unit.
The Emotional Control Unit was made of metal, crystal, and plastic – and had a dedicated slot within the dash which enveloped the key to start the car.
2015 BMW 7-Series and i8
Before apps became the norm, BMW experimented with the connected car key – one that can tell you the car’s status and that allows limited use outside of the vehicle.
They were chunky fellas and a really cool innovation, but most of the functionality has now moved onto “mobility” apps on smartphones.
The original and unmistakable red key fob belongs to Ferrari.
Even if you don’t own a Ferrari, these key fobs have become highly collectable because of their distinctiveness.
Alfa Romeo had a red key fob for the 156 in the late 1990s, which also indicated that the carrier was a bit more discerning than the driver of a 3 Series or C-Class.
Obsessed with lightness, just about everything on a McLaren is made of carbon fibre or composites thereof.
This obsession even translated into the key, as it is made from carbon fibre and super-light.
There are suspected to be three Koenigseggs in South Africa – which makes the work of art used to start the car a sight more rare than the cars themselves.
Like a treasured amulet, the key fob is a sterling silver Koenigsegg crest with a button on the back to lock and unlock the doors.
Placed on a table, the heft and design are definitely going to be a talking point.