Why German cars used to have different sized side mirrors

Surely many of those who happened to drive German cars made in the 1980s and 1990s, must have been confronted with such a design solution as asymmetrical mirrors. In some models of foreign passenger cars at that time, the side mirrors could have not only different size, but also shape and angle. From the side such asymmetry looked very strange. What for was it necessary in such case?

Today, asymmetrical mirrors are considered an anachronism. From time to time you can still find them on budget cars of different “local” brands or localized copies of popular foreign models. However, in the 1980s and 1990s, asymmetric mirrors could be seen even on expensive cars. Mostly they were German Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Audi and Opel.

The other one was the passenger side view mirror. It was not only shorter, but also usually a little higher than the driver’s. In some models, the mirror holders had a different tilt, and the mirrors themselves a different convexity. Why was this done? Certainly not to save some glass and plastic. The asymmetric mirrors were made for safety purposes. The fact is that the streets of many European cities are quite small. Not only to park, but also to drive on them can be difficult. This is why the Germans decided to make the mirrors on the passenger side smaller, so the motorist could press against the wall or sidewalk as tightly as possible. At the same time, the risk of mirror damage, including by pedestrians, was noticeably reduced.

It’s worth adding that the idea itself was by no means new. A decade before in Europe they tried to make cars with only one side mirror from the driver’s side! But the need for such “refinements” disappeared in the early 2000s. That was when a relatively cheap electric drive for mirrors was created. Now it was possible to open or fold the observation instrument by pushing a button. And after a short time such an accessory became generally available.

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