Car enthusiasts spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about windscreen wipers. Find a single wiper, and a car nut will be swiping left faster than you can say “Fancy a play with my Monoblade, baby?”
Headlight wipers are an illuminating spectacle. Then there's dual rear wipers, which are enough to make a car fan look back in wonder. Put simply, windscreen wipers, er... wipe the floor with other car parts.
Not that everyone is a fan. In this 1992 review of the Toyota Camry wagon, MotorWeek described the dual rear wipers as “a first of modest value”. There was no mention of the fact that images of the dual rear wipers would be winning social media points nearly three decades later.
The thing is, the Toyota Camry wasn't the first car to be graced with a pair of rear wipers. It wasn't even the first Toyota, as the Cressida X70 wagon sported dual rear wipers in the mid 80s. The knowledge that Toyota changed the rear wiper design just one year into production of the Mk3 Cressida will propel you to the top of every dinner party guest list.
Longer wiper arms were required to account for the introduction of a CHMSL. That's Central High Mount Spot Lamp. Prepare for dinner party guests to gravitate towards you like a moth to a flashlight.
Crazy World of Wipers
Start exploring the Crazy World of Wipers (capitalised because it should be a blog), and you'll enter a rabbit hole of epic proportions. The triple windscreen wipers of the Toyota FJ Cruiser. The headlight wipers of the Saab 99. Mirror wipers. Side wipers.
As this article on Road & Track explains, the theoretical number of wipers could add up to 9 or 10. To think that non-car people don't give wipers a second thought. Not until they come up as an advisory on an MOT certificate.
It's not as though Toyota got there first with the crazy dual rear wipers thing. The Lancia Flaminia Berlina featured dual rear wipers, INSIDE AND OUT.
The exterior wipers sorted the rain and spray, leaving the interior wipers to clear the condensation. This 1959 example sold at auction in 2016 for €19,000. A small price to pay for the kudos of owning a car with FOUR rear wipers.
Unfortunately, the idea of dual rear wipers never caught on. This is despite Datsun doing its best for the cause by adding a pair of wipers to the wide rear window of the 280C wagon. Earlier, a pair of wipers appeared on the Pininfarina 300B of 1955.
Maybe MotorWeek was right about them offering little more than ‘modest value’. However, you'd think that in the age of the SUV, the idea of a pair of rear wipers would seem like a good idea. A traditional and conventional accompaniment to the reversing camera and parking sensors.
Common sense? It'll never catch on.
Lancia image © Tom Wood/RM Sotheby's