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Removable Steering Wheel

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When I said "Take the Wheel", I didn't mean...

A gag in comedies involving driving has the driver removing the steering wheel (or handlebars) by accidentally or intentionally letting someone Take the Wheel. Often this means the vehicle will go out of control or become inoperable, though there are instances where reinserting the wheel (whether in its original place or otherwise) will allow regained control.

Often happens with The Alleged Car. Compare with Broken Lever of Doom and Detachable Doorknob.


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    Anime & Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • Played seriously in issue 3 of All-New Wolverine. During a high-speed chase, Wolverine jumps into Mooney's HUMVEE, rips out the steering wheel, and jumps out again. The vehicle careens out of control and slams into a tree, allowing the Sisters to escape.
  • A variation happens in Cattivik, with the main character stealing the steering wheel of a space shuttle (?) and causing it to crash on Mars.
  • The Ghost Rider has an incident when he is fighting a thug attacking a circus with a massive earth-mover vehicle and he manages to get into the control compartment. As they fight for the controls, the thug sees the vehicle moving towards some place undesirable and pleads with the demon superhero to give him the wheel. The Rider obliges him by ripping out the entire steering column, but the fainting thug doesn't notice that the Rider was also hitting the brake pedal at the same time to bring the vehicle to a stop.
  • Watchmen: Nite Owl II's transport has a removable steering column; he uses it on the roof of the transport when he and Laurie rescue a bunch of people from a burning building and they run out of room on the inside.

    Films — Animation 
  • In the animated 101 Dalmatians, Horace and Jasper panic and tear the wheel off their truck when they're about to crash into Cruella.
  • Happens in Jonah: A VeggieTales Movie: Mr. Asparagus gets his guitar neck caught in the van's steering wheel and wrenches it off trying to get unstuck. Bob is able to plug it back in just in time to swerve to avoid two accidents — but not before losing all four of their tires to an angry mother porcupine.
  • Wallace & Gromit's van in A Matter of Loaf and Death has a steering wheel that can be removed, and plugged into the passenger's dashboard and used.
  • Wreck-It Ralph: The Sugar Rush racers destroy Vanellope's kart, starting with Taffyta breaking off the steering wheel.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In the W. C. Fields film The Bank Dick (1940), when asked by the thug in the back seat to give him the wheel, Egbert Souse (Fields) matter-of-factly pulled it off the steering column and gave it to him. This sequence paid homage to the Mack Sennett/Keystone Cops and Hal Roach/Our Gang comedies of the 1920s and 1930s. Model T Fords were generally used for these comic chases.
    Souse: We're gonna have an accident if we're not careful...
  • In The Cat in the Hat , the cat and two kids are in the middle of a car chase when not only does the cat literally give one kid the wheel, but also fabricates a new one, so they're driving one car with two separate wheels.
  • French movie Le Gendarme et les Gendarmettes: Gerber berates Cruchot (Louis de Funès) for not driving their Jeep fast enough, and finally commands "Passez-moi le volant." Thus Cruchot pulls out the wheel without stopping first and gives it to Gerber, who plugs it back on his side. And then keeps driving.
  • Variation: in Go West, the Marx Brothers are on a runaway train. Chico yells to Harpo, "Brake! The brake!" So Harpo breaks the brake.
  • A rare non-comedic example in Mad Max: Fury Road: Immortan Joe's vehicles all seem to have these, either as a security feature or to help free a trapped driver (see Real Life below). An early scene shows the War Boys retrieving them from their altar before they head out to pursue Furiosa and the Wives. The one on the War Rig gets lost early on, forcing Furiosa and Max to improvise with a wrench; Max is later able to procure a replacement during his Offscreen Moment of Awesome.
  • In Moonraker, Jaws and some mooks are chasing James Bond in a speedboat when Jaws takes the wheel a little too literally.
  • In The Muppet Movie, Fozzie accidentally pulls the steering wheel off the car when trying to chase down Gonzo, who is floating on a bunch of balloons.
  • In Rush Hour, Jackie Chan's character removes the wheel from Chris Tucker's character's car after being handcuffed to it.
  • The Three Stooges has several examples of this, including one where Curly grasps the wheel-less shaft and twists it with both hands in a lame attempt to steer the car.
  • Taxi: In both the original movie and the US remake, Daniel/Belle's taxi has one, but it's so s/he can change the taxi steering wheel for a professional steering wheel.
  • Wonder Woman 1984: At the start of the fight with Maxwell Lord's security force, Diana takes a truckful of mooks out of the picture by leaping onto the truck's cabin and using her Super-Strength to tear off the steering wheel. She then reminds the astonished driver that the brakes still work.

  • The Yawning Heights by Alexander Zinoviev had one cadet telling the story about another in his academy. The guy was a decent pilot, but afraid to land, and his instructor planned a sneaky move — to remove his stick in flight, so that the student would have to land their plane on his own. But the cadet heard about that and took a spare. And when the instructor shown him his disconnected stick and threw it out, the student also shown him a stick and threw it out.

    Live-Action TV 
  • A go-cart version was enshrined in the opening credits of Eight is Enough.
  • Mr. Bean does this on purpose whenever he parks, so his car won't get stolen. It works: In one episode, we see an actual car thief getting as far as jump-starting the car only to realize that the wheel is missing, then Gilligan Cut to Bean taking the wheel out of his picnic bag.
  • In one "Handyman Corner" segment of The Red Green Show, Red customized a car to have (among other things) an intentionally removable steering wheel (really a collapsible strainer) to be used as part of an anti-theft device. After all, who would steal a car that has no steering wheel?
  • Has happened a number of times on Top Gear, usually when they are messing around with very cheap cars they have acquired for their projects.

  • Our Miss Brooks: In "The Oakhurst Music Festival", while giving driving lessons to Stretch Snodgrass, Miss Brooks asks him to give her the wheel. Snodgrass literally gives Miss Brooks the steering wheel.

  • BIONICLE: in Legends of Metru Nui, Matau accidentally breaks the handlebars off the moto-sled he was riding in the Test Track, resulting in crashing.

    Video Games 
  • Many simulation driving and racing games are starting to add the option to visually remove the steering wheel for those with a steering wheel controller to prevent "double-vision" of seeing two moving steering wheels, especially if the range of rotation doesn't match between the two wheels. This also has the benefit of leaving the dashboard unobstructed.
  • Neighbours From Hell: The sequel's final level involves this as a prank on the grouchy Mr. Rottweiler who is already fiddling around with the wheel in the captain's room on the ship they're on. This ends up causing Rottweiler to accidentally remove the steering wheel and cause the ship to undergo the Titanic's fate.

    Western Animation 
  • In the Dennis the Menace episode, "Trembly Assembly", Dennis plays inside a car that a salesman is trying to sell to his father, Henry. When the salesman tells Dennis to give him the wheel, Dennis pulls it out and gives it to him, much to his horror.
  • Doug once included a fantasy in which Doug and Skeeter were truck drivers. Skeeter's request to take the wheel ends up with Doug giving it to him.
  • DuckTales: In "The Uncrashable Hindentanic", Glomgold tricks kooky captain Farley Foghorn into removing the steering wheel and taking it with him to the zeppelin's dining room.
  • Filmation's Ghostbusters: In "Runaway Choo-Choo," Apparitia sabotages the train's brakes in this way when Jake says, "Bad break for you!"
  • Hare Lift: Yosemite Sam demands that Bugs Bunny "give him the controls" of the large experimental plane they are flying in. Bugs of course rips the control-stick loose and tosses it through a window.
  • Kaeloo: In the episode "Let's Play Driver's License", Quack Quack takes a driving test with Mr. Cat as the driving instructor. After doing random things such as tickling Quack Quack and shining a flashlight in his eyes, Mr. Cat rips out the steering wheel and somehow escapes from the car. Quack Quack winds up driving off a cliff.
  • In one of The New Scooby-Doo Movies, Bobby Joe, the dim Globetrotter, when told to 'turn the wheel around' on a ship, takes the helm off its spot and puts it on the other side.
  • In the "Carnival Calamity" episode of The Perils of Penelope Pitstop, when the heroes are on a roller coaster descending toward the ocean, Dum Dum pulls this gag when Clyde says, "Give me the steering wheel. … On second thought, you can have it back!"
  • T.U.F.F. Puppy: At the start of the episode "Dog Daze," Dudley and Kitty drive after a giant robot piloted by D.O.O.M. Dudley yanks off the Tuffmobile's steering wheel and tells Kitty to "take the wheel." As he ejects his seat to get into the robot, she can only scream as the car crashes.

    Real Life 
  • Most modern racing cars have quick-release removable steering wheels to save space and to aid safety — it's much easier to quickly jump out of, or extricate an injured driver from a cramped racing car without a steering wheel in the way. The racers attach the steering wheel after they get in the car and remove it before they get out.
  • These are available for use in older collectible cars (before locking steering mechanisms became standard) as an anti-theft device.
  • Most modern cars require removing the air bag cover and undoing a large bolt underneath to remove the steering wheel itself. Ripping the wheel off otherwise requires a great deal of force.
  • Most exotic cars, such as the Aston Martin Vulcan, have this feature serving as the key to the vehicle, simply by placing the steering wheel into the slot, then pressing the button to start the engine.


Video Example(s):


Mr. Bean's Steering Wheel

The titular character remove his steering wheel on purpose whenever he parks, so his car won't get stolen. It works since in the episode "The Trouble with Mr. Bean", we see an actual car thief getting as far as jump-starting the car only to realize that the wheel is missing, then we cut to Bean taking the wheel out of his picnic bag.

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Main / RemovableSteeringWheel

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