Finally, Here’s A Guide To Those Buttons On Speed Racer’s Mach 5 Steering Wheel

Finally, Here’s A Guide To Those Buttons On Speed Racer’s Mach 5 Steering Wheel

Like many kids, I grew up watching episodes of Speed Racer, marvelling at the Mach 5’s impressive technology and being horrified and baffled by the shocking similarities in behaviour between that kid and that monkey that always used to gorge on candy and stow away, dangerously, in the race car’s trunk. I also recall that most of the Mach 5’s gadgetry was actuated via lettered buttons on the hub of the steering wheel. I can’t say I ever really remembered what each of them was supposed to do, which is why I’m relieved that a video exists explaining it all.

The placement of these crucial features in the centre of the steering wheel always struck me as a sort of poor choice, in the same way I always thought the Ford Edsel’s steering wheel-based shift controls were a sort of poor choice.

Photo: Ford

At least on an Edsel the letters actually stood for what the button’s function was, and if you picked the wrong one no one got hacked to death by sawblades, something I can’t say about the Mach 5.

Still, that’s how the engineers over at Mifune Motors designed things, and there’s not much I can do about it now, so I guess the sensible thing would be to just familiarise myself with everything, on the off chance I find myself behind the wheel of the Mach 5 one day.

This should help:

And, in case you’re in a real hurry — perhaps reading this on your phone as you sprint to the Mach 5 — here’s each button’s function broken down:

Screenshot: YouTube

OK, so, button A looks to be used mostly for maintenance, as it deploys jacks that, really, act as a sort of integrated lift to service the car. Seems like a lot of weight and hardware for a racecar to carry, but I can’t deny it would make servicing easy.

Screenshot: YouTube

Button B somehow makes the tires deploy some manner of high-traction tread and distributes an insane 5,000 horsepower to all four wheels; I guess it breaks down to about 1,250 per wheel, unless there’s like a rearward bias or something? That’s like over three Bugatti Chirons, so I’m guessing go easy on the throttle.

Screenshot: YouTube

Button C seems to me to be a pretty niche sort of feature for inclusion right on that wheel, but what do I know? It deploys a pair of spinning circular saws to cut down trees in heavily wooded areas? I think you’d still have to slow down a lot for this to be effective, and if you deploy it at the wrong time or place, you’re looking at an absolute bloodbath. This one should have at least a little flip-up cover over it, or something.

Imagine accidentally hitting this while waiting for a herd of sheep to cross a road? Oh god.

Screenshot: YouTube

Essentially, button D is the roof. Instead of a canvas top, the Mach 5 has some manner of highly durable clear material. Maybe it’s some kind of plexi? I’m not sure. It’s all clear, so it may get hot in there in the summer. I’t’s not clear if this deploys automatically in the event of a rollover.

Screenshot: YouTube

E is the headlights, but not ordinary headlights — they seem to offer some sort of scanning-beam infra-red option. Conventional lights may have their own controls.

Screenshot: YouTube

Button F appears to transform the car into a sort of sub, enclosing the cabin, deploying a periscope, and displaying a camera feed on the dash. Again, this feels like a niche feature that just adds weight and complexity to the car, and I’d be surprised if it comes up all that often in racing contexts, really, but, again, I’m not the engineer here.

Screenshot: YouTube

The biggest, centre-placed button, G, releases what the video calls a “homing robot” but we would know this as a drone. In fact, it’s basically exactly like the drone seen on the futuristic Peugeot from 2017’s Blade Runner 2049. Well, except it’s shaped like an actual bird.

Still, this is perhaps the most plausible of all the Mach 5’s features, and the one you’d be most able to duplicate on your own car, should you be so inclined.

I really hope this helps; there’s nothing more embarrassing than leaping into the Mach 5 and hideously maiming people by cutting off their shins when you just wanted to put the top up. So maybe print this out and keep it in your wallet.