Even after American Motors created a car with a simple switch to select between two-wheel-drive and four-wheel-drive, back in the dark ages of 1980, many drivers still felt confused about when you wanted to send engine power to just two wheels or all of the wheels. Even when Audi began selling the Quattro system the next year, you still had to decide whether you wanted to lock the differentials. Lock the what? So, no-driver-input-required four-wheel-drive systems— what we’d call all-wheel-drive today— began to show up later in the decade. Here’s a magazine advertisement for the 1988 Honda Civic Wagon, equipped with Real Time 4WD.
American Honda Motor Company’s marketers did a great job picking out images of some of the confusing controls used to select drive mode and/or manage differentials. You’ve got the AMC Eagle, Ford Ranger, a couple of Subarus, and other Civic Wagon competitors shown here in all their glory— the kind of controls that, in the words of this ad copy, force you to suppress the urge to panic. Real Time 4WD just knows which wheels need power at any given moment and makes the decisions without the driver needing to identify the difference between dry pavement and slippery surfaces.
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