Geek Trivia

Which Component of Modern Cars Owes Its Name To Horses?

The Dashboard
The Speedometer
The Chassis
The Windshield
Alexander Graham Bell Believed Which Of These To Be His Greatest Invention?
Black and white drawing of a carriage's dashboard
Pearson Scott Foresman/Wikimedia

Answer: The Dashboard

In modern automobiles, the dashboard is a flat surface inside the car, beneath the windshield, that seems to exist solely for the purpose of creating space so that your face isn’t pressed against the glass of the windshield (and to give bohemian passengers a place to throw up their boots).

Historically, however, the dashboard wasn’t a flat surface for tossing newspapers and parking tickets on; it was a vertical barrier at the front of a carriage between the driver and the horses. Whatever the horses’ hoofs dashed up from the road—mud, sticks, or manure—was deflected away from the driver by the dashboard.

The dashboard isn’t the only component leftover from the days of carriages. Once upon a time, the boot (trunk) wasn’t a distinct storage compartment, but a built-in compartment originally used as a seat for the coachman and later for storage.