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Why are suicide knobs called so?

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by alex1954chevy, Jan 1, 2009.

  1. alex1954chevy
    Joined: Apr 13, 2008
    Posts: 252


    just wondering, why they are called suicide knobs? why are they illegal?:confused:
  2. KreaturesCCaustin
    Joined: Sep 3, 2008
    Posts: 1,258

    from Austin, TX

    There are a few reasons: One, they will sometimes grab a shirt sleeve and get snagged up right in the middle of a turn. Two: in the case of bump steer, they'll just about knock your thumb off and shove it down your throat for ya. Three: They've been known to pick the worst possible moment to break off, like right in the middle of a hard turn. None of those scenarios is very pleasant. That said, I've had one on several different vehicles and still like them.
    bsa_bob and lothiandon1940 like this.
  3. My Dad, who was born in 1931 and grew up in Glendale CA, the birthplace of the speed industry always called them "Necker Knobs" when you were with your best girl, or "Brody Knobs" when you were out being a hooligan.
    HunterYJ and lothiandon1940 like this.
  4. 1951bomber
    Joined: Jun 4, 2007
    Posts: 276

    from atwater Ca

    i got one on my car love it, it helps when u don't have power steering. and i don't really know why they are illegal but they are.

    Attached Files:

  5. SquigMachine
    Joined: Dec 6, 2008
    Posts: 184


    i thought they were called brodie knobs?(never heard suicide knob?)
    like KreaturesCCaustin said,people are afraid they will catch on something and throw your vehicle across the street in oncoming traffic or one of the other million reasons people dont trust them.....

    that being said i dont plan on ever driving and talking on a cell phone or doing anything that could distract me from The O' So wonderful feeling of driving so mine is never going to kill me And i Love it,wouldnt feel right without the ol' gal. but there illegal?? o crap:eek: opppsss:cool:
  6. Horrific chest injuries in the event of a crash could be a good reason?
  7. My dad had one on a 57 chev p/u with a hot 301 under the hood, he rolled the truck and that knob left a crushed in spot in his chest. He still has the knob and 35 years later it still fits in that concave hole perfectly.
    lothiandon1940 and Stogy like this.
  8. striper
    Joined: Mar 22, 2005
    Posts: 4,498


    ...or a steering wheel :eek:
    Tim and Kiwi 4d like this.
  9. jc555247
    Joined: Jan 1, 2009
    Posts: 29


    The name says it all. I broke my thumb on one in a 1949 Ford, just befor I rolled it over. But that was before power steering. I think some times the knob would break off and because ther was on power steering the wheel would get away from you on a hard turn. Anothe reason would be because if a driver was using one to take a quick tight turn and let go of it for someting stupid, like I did and went back quickly to grab the wheel, the dam thing would hit you thumb as you grabbed the wheel and the rest was just Shit and History. Today they are proably worse because they are all probably made in China. The one I had was made in Tenn, and it BROKE MY THUMB.
  10. ApeKing
    Joined: Dec 15, 2008
    Posts: 51

    from Atlanta

    We called them Alabama idiot knobs when I was growing up here in GA. I had one on a '72 stepside chevy and it was a blast. Thanks for reminding me of these. I just bought a cool one off of ebay.
    Runnin shine likes this.
  11. Phil1934
    Joined: Jun 24, 2001
    Posts: 2,717


    My dad broke his wrist with one.
  12. ApeKing
    Joined: Dec 15, 2008
    Posts: 51

    from Atlanta

    Ive heard of broken wrists and accidents caused by them but I never experienced any such thing so as my pop used to say, if you're gonna be dumb you gotta be tough!
  13. PRoz
    Joined: Dec 6, 2002
    Posts: 240


    They do however serve a helpful purpose. My ex GF's Mother had limited use of one of her arms due to health reasons and always struggled to turn her minivan steering wheel .
    I bought her one and installed it so she could use her one good arm to steer. It gave her the ability to manuever the van better.
    They are still popular with the truck drivers.
    lothiandon1940 likes this.
  14. They used to be called SPINNER KNOBS and were sold almost everywhere, including most hardware stores, Western Auto, and variety stores.
    Many had snap on clear caps for the purpose of allowing a racy pinup picture to be placed for viewing while driving. You should have seen the variety that were sold at every truck stop.

    They were handy in the days when power steering was not very common.
    When most cars had 6 or 7-1/2 turns lock-to-lock, you wanted something to help spin the steering wheel quickly.

    Todays cars with a very fast 3-1/2 turn lock-to-lock made the spinners less useful.

    I still see them once in a while on machinery such as bucket loaders. That helps them with maneuverability while trying to load as many trucks as possible in short order.

    I agree they could be dangerous in cars where the steering wheels are close to the driver and close to vertical (nearly horizontal steering shaft). You could get hung up, or in an awkward situation.
    But they sure are handy when you have a truck style steering wheel; steering wheel nearly horizontal, and the column nearly vertical. That's where they work best.

    It used to be so funny years ago when you would see old ladies pull into a parking spot in an old Rambler. Or anybody for that matter... pull part way in, stop, crank the wheel furiously for 3 seconds, pull forward two feet, stop, crank furiously forseveral turns or 3-4 seconds, inch backward a few feet, stop, crank furiously for several turns or 3 seconds, then move forward again for a couple feet, stop, crank the wheel furiously.....

    It was near impossible to do any sort of performance driving without a spinner knob or having Superman-speed on the wheel.
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2009
  15. ApeKing
    Joined: Dec 15, 2008
    Posts: 51

    from Atlanta

    They are all over ebay, 5 pages worth. They still sell many that have the plastic cap you described with pin up, beer logos etc. I bought a chrome skull 'cause that just how I roll! HAHAHAHAA!!! :eek:
  16. Yea there dangerous, got my shirt sleeve caught on one in a turn almost had an accident.
    lothiandon1940 likes this.
  17. rodknocker
    Joined: Jan 31, 2006
    Posts: 2,267


    I had got this a while back thinking I was going to use it on my shoebox, but after a little thinking I decided it was too radical and dangerous.

    Attached Files:

    lothiandon1940 likes this.
  18. yoyodyne
    Joined: Nov 26, 2008
    Posts: 856


    John Deere dealers sell a real sturdy one, has the bearings up inside the large knob and it clamps to both the rim and a spoke of the wheel. Not real pretty, but I think it would be easy to make another knob and install it. I use it on my mower.
    lothiandon1940 likes this.
  19. I had one on my forklift. It made steering with one hand much easier as the other worked the lift controls.

    I bought one of those plastic top ones on ebay..they are all over for 10 bucks or so.. What a cheap ass piece of shit. I get what you pay for..Would not trust it to go around the corner. It sits on my desk to remind me not to surf ebay and buy when drunk.
  20. Mr.Gasser
    Joined: Apr 7, 2005
    Posts: 257


    I've also heard that they are illegal, but I've never received a ticket for one and the local schmucks auto parts sells them. Maybe it's the good ol Grandfathered in law.
  21. TagMan
    Joined: Dec 12, 2002
    Posts: 6,089


    I believe that in New York, one can get a medical waiver for installing a suicide knob, if the Doctor approves it.
  22. zorch
    Joined: Dec 7, 2005
    Posts: 217


    My mother calls them "necker's knobs." There's a joke in there. The correct position is low on the left of the wheel when the car's pointed straight, so your right hand is free to hold the doll in the passenger seat.

    From what Mom said, in her 1940s youth, a necker's knob was essential to excute a proper hard right SOS turn. SOS = Slide Over, Sweetie.

    Brody knobs ... well, Brody came from a guy name of Steve Brody, who jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge in the 1880s and lived. He became a New York local hero complete with a manager, sold pix of himself, etc. Never paid for another drink, they say, because of his fame. Brody became a catch phrase for any kind of slide, skid, fall, train wreck, etc. Like Johnny said in The Wild One, "I did a did a big Brody and everything went black." Or something like that. He got hit with the thrown wrench, said he did a big brody, and something ... Brody was a skid when I was a kid in the 50s.

    Suicide knobs is a 90s term, I think, from people who don't know what the hell a Brody is, never mind a necker. I never head it before that. Besides, suicide sounds so cool ... ooooh, danger.
  23. I think there is a box that gets checked off on the NY State driver's licenses. Mine is in my car so I'm not going out to look at 18 degrees.

    I drove an old wrecker that had one. No power anything on that rig and it was essential to be able to navigate a tight driveway or yard with a car on the hook when backing up.

  24. luckystrike
    Joined: Mar 3, 2007
    Posts: 48


    i have one on my car and it is on the same lines as blue dot tail lights. here in PA blue dot tail lights are some what illegal but no one gets tagged for them. if you get introuble for a suicide knob you are most likely doing something worse and the cop just wanted to be dick to you.
  25. Ice man
    Joined: Mar 12, 2008
    Posts: 980

    Ice man

    I had one on a Chevy, that was factory, except it was a large circle with a bar large enough to fit your fist on and it was flat with the wheel. It also had ball bearings for effortless turning. Thats the only one I ever saw for real, but have seen pictures of them.
  26. ol'skool29
    Joined: Feb 15, 2006
    Posts: 1,077


    another reason for calling it a suicide knob was for the chicken races (the "whoever jumps out last before the cliff is chicken" chicken race) and their jacket would get caught on the knob when they tried jumping out, and sending them off the cliff still in the car.
  27. Chevy had that factory spinner option from 40 through 48 I believe. You don't want to know what kind of money one of those wheels in nice shape will bring. I still have a '40 ragtop carcass that has one on it and even that one's worth what I paid for the whole pile.
  28. gnichols
    Joined: Mar 6, 2008
    Posts: 10,915

    from Tampa, FL

    I always thought they were illegal.. not? Gary
  29. Bman416
    Joined: Nov 4, 2007
    Posts: 180


    Love to show you the one my buddy just gave me but the digi no worky! I can't remember where he said he got it but it has a picture of a naked pin-up girl( like one from the '50s) behind the clear plastic. Its goin on the '56 when I get around to it.

  30. They are called suicide knobs because if you have an accident that throws you against the wheel, there's a great chance that the knob will be the cause of your death.

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