Copart Breaks Down the Evolution of Car Keys

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Technology in cars has drastically evolved in the past 30 years. We’ve gone from AM/FM radios being the “gold standard” to Bluetooth-compatible media systems. But perhaps one of the most interesting developments has occurred in the way we access our vehicles. That’s right—we’re talking about car keys.   

It’s crazy to think that some people have started driving without ever having experienced physically putting their keys in the ignition and turning it. Gone are the days where a manual turn and lock situation was the norm. Now you can use your phone to unlock your vehicle (and maybe even start it up). Since we’ve been talking about technology in cars, let’s examine the evolution of the key.  

Keyless entry in automobiles has only been around for about 30 years, first appearing in the 1980s in vehicles like the Ford Thunderbird, Mercury Cougar, Continental Mark VI, and Lincoln Town Cars as a Keyless Entry System. In its initial debut, keyless entry was a simple keypad on the driver’s side door that would open specific doors depending on what code was entered.  

Fast-forward to the mid-to-late 90s. Smart keys were slowly introduced to the automotive market that allowed people to start their cars without actually placing a key in the ignition (though most smart keys incorporate some sort of backup manual key ignition sequence should the key fob fail). Now all you have to do to start a car is press a button.  

It only makes sense for car key functionality to continue developing as technology gets more and more advanced. We can’t help but wonder what car keys will look like in another 30 years. Will they resemble the keys we currently know?  

Explore a variety of keys and cars at  

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