Let's face it: Many of us will never get to actually see car keys of luxury brands, let alone own them. Which is another way of saying many of us are probably unaware of the kind of technologies that these high-end car keys pack these days. In fact, we're not even sure whether to still call these little implements "keys," because this might already be a misnomer. When you hear the term "keyless entry," that's exactly what it means: keyless. Which literally means the absence of a key.
As you know, most cars today are so high-tech you no longer need to insert a key into a lock to open the door. Remote controls now do it for you--some so advanced they have a "proximity" sensor that allows you to open the door without even pushing a button on the key. When the car's sensor detects that the vehicle's key is within a set range, it automatically unlocks the door once you grab the handle. You don't even need to take the "key" out of your pocket.
And then, of course, there is now the keyless engine start/stop button, which even subcompact cars already have. Paired with the aforementioned proximity sensor, you can now enter your car, start it and then drive away without ever having to touch some sort of a key (as long as it's on your person). Amazing.
Today, the automotive business is so cutthroat that carmakers are seriously slugging it out for even the tiniest of edges. So much so that even the previously neglected car key is now also a focus of R&D resources. Remember when car keys used to be so inconsequential that they all looked the same? They all had a generic-looking bow and an equally generic-looking blade. Precisely why we bought gaudy keychains to attach them to, just so we wouldn't mistake them for those of the next guy.
Now, car companies exert no small amount of effort to make their car keys look distinct. It is not uncommon these days to see car keys that seem to have been designed to be a conversation piece. Car keys are now a source of entertainment by themselves. I remember when I first saw a key with a blade that flicked out with the soft push of a button. I think it was from Volvo. I was so amazed I must have flicked the blade more than a dozen times before hitting the road. And the level of craftsmanship was amazing. The impression I got from that encounter was this: If Volvo had pulled out all the stops in making a fabulous key, it must have also left no stone unturned in ensuring the high quality of the car itself.
Today, car keys--especially those from luxury brands--look so pretty and elegant that USB sticks are fashioned after them. They have become chic accessories that we love to flash before our ogling friends. If the sight of the simple-looking key tickled you in the past when you took delivery of a newly purchased car, modern "keys" will now surely make you swoon.
Still, the fact remains that many--perhaps even most--of us will never get to see and hold a key to a luxury car--never mind a supercar. Premium car keys are such works of art that they could cost you a thousand dollars if you lost them. I shudder to guess how much losing a Lexus LFA key (shown below) would set you back. For one, it's made of carbon fiber. For another, I doubt even the best counterfeiters in China can duplicate it.
The Porsche Panamera key (shown below) is shaped like a scale model of the car. I think it can stop the whining of a toddler during a long drive. And the Aston Martin DBS key (shown below) looks James Bond-fancy. I think all your opponents across the poker table will fold their cards if you lay this thing on top of yours.
Of course, there will always be the Ferrari key, the very symbol of simplicity and even manliness. Its lack of artificial sophistication is a loud statement that says real drivers don't need ornaments. The 458 Italia key (shown below), believe it or not, consists of just the traditional bow and blade. Just like my Honda Jazz key, except mine won't seduce women into flirting with me.
Car keys today do a lot more things than just simply opening the door and turning on the ignition. They can also trigger the alarm or even immobilize the car if somebody manages to pry it from you. But more important, I think, is their role as eye candies. They give their beholder something to aspire to. They also add fun to motoring. They make the simple task of walking up to the car quite an event. Indeed, modern and stylish car keys help to make us feel good about the car purchase, especially when the wife won't stop haranguing you for getting a coupe instead of a sedan.
Many, if not most, of us will never get to see or touch a luxury or supercar key. Here they are in all their two-dimensional glory. May their images inspire you to do better in life. Then maybe--just maybe--somewhere in the future you can make me fold my pocket jacks when you go all in while fiddling with a Lamborghini key.