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Door handles may seem the most mundane thing on a car, but the enormous changes in designs over the years are down to more than just fashion.
Before the 1970s, handles were similar to those found on doors in buildings or simple push-button affairs. Then came the Australian Design Rules (ADR), which required door latches to have features that prevent the doors from bursting open in the event of a crash. This led to more elaborate mechanisms using rods and levers, usually actuated by flip handles, and these were common for decades.
It was another safety push that coincided with the rise of programs such as ANCAP that led us to the pull-type grab handles we have now. As well as being ergonomically superior and less likely to break fingernails, these handles are designed to reduce the risk of the door opening in a crash, particularly rollovers and side impacts. They’re also favoured by emergency services when it is necessary to extract a vehicle’s occupants.