James Winner, who came up with the famous, ubiquitous steering-wheel lock that’s known simply as “The Club,” died earlier this week in a car accident. He was 81 years old.
The original Club, which is still sold, is a long steel bar that extends and locks across your steering wheel. The idea is “If you can’t steer it, you can’t steal it,” which is the Club’s trademarked slogan. In many cases, The Club was enough deterrence for a potential car thief. There are many other wheel locks available, but with 95% brand awareness, according to Winner International, The Club is probably one of the first ideas that pop into car owners’ heads when considering auto theft deterrence.
According to company lore, Winner started marketing The Club after his Cadillac with a factory-installed alarm was stolen. The concept was reportedly derived from Winner’s experiences in the Army during the Korean War when he would secure an Army vehicle’s steering wheel with a chain to prevent it from being stolen.
Today, Winner International has sold more than 10 million Clubs since the unit went on sale, according to The Washington Post.
Nowadays, with smart key immobilizers, GPS tracking and overall better perimeter security systems, you might not see as many Clubs in parking lots.
James Winner dies at 81; marketed the Club steering wheel lock (Washington Post)