By on July 3, 2017

windshield wipers, Image: Sashkin/Bigstock

Look, with the best word in the world, we’re all pretty odd around here. Writers, readers, editors (past and future), we’re a community of pedantic gearheads with an affinity for the peculiar. How else to explain Panther Love or Sajeev’s Bitter Tears?

I’m no different, which is why I like it here. One of the things I enjoy — which no one in my immediate family can seem to explain — are cars and trucks with a weird number of wipers. Two wipers? Pah! How pedestrian. The discerning TTACer requires – nay, demands! – their ride of choice to be equipped with rain-clearing devices of the oddest configuration!

Ahem. Yes. Let’s look at a few, shall we?


Toyota FJ Cruiser, Image": Toyota Motor Corporation

Toyota’s FJ Cruiser boasts seemingly non-existent depreciation and a trio of wipers with which to clear its windscreen. T’would would appear the house of Akido discovered two wipers would clear the FJ’s mail-slot forward glass with the effectiveness of a worn-out Regina Electrikbroom, and decided to give it three of the things. I think it was a fabulous decision.


1997_fiat_panda (public domain)

Single wipers are a hoot, too. Some were deployed by their penny-pinching manufacturers in a bid to save a few simoleons, such as on the old Fiat Panda and Renault Twingo. Come replacement time, cheapskate owners of these hatchbacks could bask in their half-price wiper fees.


94-95_mercedes-benz_e-class_sedan (public domain)

On the other end of the single-wiper spectrum is the Monoblade system developed by Mercedes and found on the W124 cars. In what is definitely one of the best solo blade systems on the planet, the Benzo’s arm manages to extend outwards during its sweep, clearing more of the glass than it would otherwise — a full 86 percent, according to M-B propaganda.

1992 Camry Wagon

If one is good, two are better, right? That edict might not hold true for headaches, lawsuits, or bouts of the dropsy, but from 1992-1996 Toyota saw fit to endow the Camry wagon with a brace of wipers on its rear hatch. The twin rear wiper setup cleared the vast expanse of glass in a jiffy, leading me to think some manufacturers would do well to adopt this idea today, especially when I’m trying valiantly to see out the pitiful mailslot that’s been cleared by the single rear wiper on [choose just about any modern crossover].

What’s your favourite odd windshield wiper setup? Don’t be shy; we’re all odd around here … perhaps even odder than the wiper solution on the EleMMent Palazzo.

[Image: Sashkin/Bigstock, Toyota]

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56 Comments on “QOTD: What’s Your Favorite Ride With Odd Windshield Wipers?...”

  • avatar

    Colani truck. I win.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    The MGB had a 3-wiper setup – remarkable for such a small car:

    • 0 avatar

      I always thought the 3-wiper setup on the B roadsters was a nice quirk to have. Too bad my 71 MGBGT has a normal 2-blade setup.

    • 0 avatar

      My 73 MG Midget also has 3 wipers. They are also backwards, meaning they are setup for right hand drive so don’t clear the top corner of the windshield on the left hand side.

  • avatar

    Countach. 1 big wiper for 1 big windshield.

    • 0 avatar

      It’s actually one-and-a-half wipers.

      There is a smaller blade mounted on the same arm. It has a slightly different joint to cover the lower corner that the large main wiper blade can’t reach.

      This is my favourite, too, and the Diablo uses a similar system.

  • avatar

    I noticed the new C-class uses two wipers but they also extend out to the corners of the windshield in a manner similar to the old E-class.

  • avatar
    Bill Wade

    Old Army Jeeps with the unsynchronized wipers flopping back and forth, that is if you were lucky and had one without the hand cranks to turn them.

  • avatar

    My least favourite wipers are on the old GM minivans – we had one and after several years they had a problem returning to the proper park position. It seems to be a common problem as I still often see these vans with the wipers parked in an elevated position – my kids have a game of yelling “WIPY!” every time they see one.

    Toyota needs to introduce a car with 3 wipers on the front, and 2 in the back. And perhaps 2 more for the headlights.

  • avatar

    My much loved Dodge Magnum. It’s rear wiper was a special size ONLY available at your local Mopar dealer!

    I knew of a few people that would cut wipers to fit.

    • 0 avatar

      The most annoying thing is if you have the old frame-style wiper and the original frame has started to rust.

      Then even a cut blade would be useless.

  • avatar

    My single wiper setup on my 1985 Isuzu Impulse. Giorgetto Giugiaro is a fan of the single front wiper in his designs.

  • avatar

    The double center-mounted wipers on my 993 were quirky and neat.

  • avatar

    Not really a physically strange wiper set up, but I have to say my 1962 Lincoln Continental I owned in high school. The wipers didn’t run off a motor, but off hydraulics run off the power steering pump.

  • avatar

    My old 91 Jeep Wrangler the wipers parked in the middle of the windshield, not at the bottom like most cars.

  • avatar

    My DD, a 50’s Ford Tudor, has its original vacuum operated wipers. Wiper speed is infinitely variable but they stall out under acceleration as air fills the vacuum in the intake. This phenomenon is a bit counterintuitive to me.

    • 0 avatar

      Interesting solution indeed!

      About stalling: just think who creates the vacuum: it’s the engine trying to breathe against the resistance caused to the flow from the upstream throttle. When you floor the pedal, the throttle opens and allows the engine to breathe at full atmospheric pressure, thus eliminating the vacuum.

  • avatar

    My ’07 Honda Fit has 1 big wiper and 1 small wiper up front

    • 0 avatar

      Most Hondas going back to at least the ’90s have a larger wiper on the driver’s side.

      The top pic in the article looks like the OEM wipers on the 9th-Gen Accord. Not the best ones ever made — they’re a little noisy, and sometimes miss parts of the driver’s side at the end of the travel.

  • avatar

    I’m going with the W124 having the coolest wiper system EVER. Check this motion. Beautiful.

  • avatar

    Toyota seems to have had a thing for dual rear window wipers, sometimes creepily modified as on this Crown wagon:

  • avatar

    Not exactly the wipers, but the washers on my ’65 Corvair are timed to miss the wipers as they move, and shut off after several sprays.

  • avatar

    The trick with vacuum-powered wipers was to time your shifts so that the wild flapping between gears would give you a clear screen until the next shift point. A turbocharger just exacerbated the problem — my ’84 Volvo Turbo had enough reserve capacity in the vacuum tank to last through its gear changes, but not for extended uphill power needs. With an auto tranny it was necessary to ease off the throttle for a moment to achieve the same result. Electric wipers were a godsend.

    • 0 avatar

      Vacuum wipers into the ’80s on a Volvo, where safety is first and foremost — wow!

      • 0 avatar

        No, they were electric. I have a 1983 Volvo 240 and the wipers are definitely electric. They are slow, but they are electric. Four years ago I had to replace the intermittent wiper relay in order for the intermittent timing to work again. By the 1980s, Volvo’s wipers had been electric for decades. Safety was first with Volvo, and the only vacuum operated things were the deflectors in the air ducts for the climate control. Those 240s also had electric door locks. They had boxy styling, but they weren’t behind on technology. Heated seats, heated power mirrors, dual temperature climate control, those were all features available on the 240s.

  • avatar

    Lincolns in the 60s had wipers driven by the power steering pump. There was a slider on the dash that let you control the speed (not delay, but actual speed) of the wipers by controlling how much pressure was sent to the wiper motor.

  • avatar

    My mom’s 1990 Jaguar XJ6 Sovereign (XJ40) had a single wiper that wiped a good amount of the windshield area.

  • avatar

    I liked the dual wipers of the Camry wagon. And the Mercedes monoblade. Honorable mention: The wipers for the headlights on Mercedes and other Euro cars. I know that headlight cleaning set-ups are common across the pond, but the first time 10 year old me saw these on an E-class around 1988, it was SO cool.

    The rear wiper for my Mazda 5 is also only available at the Mazda dealer. The parts store stuff fits, but doesn’t clear as well for some reason and I’ve tried multiple brands.

    I have a love/hate relationship with the rear wiper on our new Sienna SE. I like how Toyota gave it a spot to hide in the rear “spoiler”, as it cleans up the back-end styling and makes it easier to clean the rear end. I don’t like how it only clears an odd 120 degree arc compared to the 180 degree sweep of a bottom mounted set-up.

    It also is hard to get all the water out of the rear spoiler area without compressed air or just letting it dry. Just when you think it’s clean, drips show up. This is an issue with all hatchbacks, but the hiding place for the wiper makes it worse.

  • avatar

    The Mark I Scirocco from 1976 through 1981 had a mono wiper as wee as the first two years of the Mark II

  • avatar

    Port powered; starboard manual.

    My parent’s post war 27 foot Elco sport cruiser (2 piece windshield – the 30 footers had a 3 piece windshield) had a Bosch windshield motor in front of the port helm but the starboard windshield wiper had a manually powered handle.

    The Bosch had no park feature so my father was practiced at timing the off switch to park the blade at the extreme of the starboard pointing arch. My brother and I powered the manual side and we were told to always park the blade at the end of its port pointing swing.

    Just like his Packard.

    If rough weather bow spray lasted too long on the sunny glass the residual salt would crust up on the glass and could damage the blade, so one of us was usually on starboard wiper duty in rough but sunny weather.

    When I first started driving I was very impressed with the auto-park feature of the car’s wipers. And the fact both were powered. And that the water was fresh and not brine.

  • avatar
    jose carlos

    I think the MB single wiper was the coolest. I had in a 190E and a W210 (I think the last model with the system) and it was a mechanical marvel. Such small details made part of the alure and uniqueness of driving a MB.

  • avatar

    Seat Leon, where the wipers park against the A-pillars.

  • avatar

    My old 2006 audi a6 avant had two odd things. First the service mode setting for the wipers. Because otherwise you’d scratch the hood as you opened it as it scrapped against the housings for the wipers. Why they didn’t just always go to service position when they were off beffudles me to this day. The other odd thing was the rear wiper. Since the us only got a few thousand 06 and up avants, apparently no one thought it was necessary to have the rear wiper in Stock. I literally went to the audi dealership and was told the part is not available in north America. Had to have it ordered and shipped from Europe. So stupid. I will say though, that rear wiper did a remarkable job of clearing the black Glass area. Like 80%+ cleared.

  • avatar

    For three-wiper glory, I have to go with the Series 1 Jaguar E-Type.

    My personal preference is for the roadsters, but the FHC in the photo did the best job of showing all three wipers.

    Runner-up (but only just): the Morgan Plus 8.

  • avatar

    I’m sort of an engineering nerd so little intracacies like windshield wipers interest me.

    Mercedes had some really peculiar wiper setups through the years. If you watch closely on the right wiper arm of post-monowiper mechanisms you will notice a pivoting mechanism which extends the wiper arm horizontally as it approaches the corner, and detracts it as it clears the corner. They took the design from the monowiper days and adapted it to a two-wiper setup. I’ve also noticed a wide sweeping motion, as in the left arm is halfway through the sweep; the right (passenger) arm is a quarter way through.
    I think BMW copied this mechanism as I’ve seen older 5-series with an MB-esque setup.

  • avatar
    Ashy Larry

    Classic Saab 900’s have two wipers but they move across the windshield at different rates, one faster and covering more ground than the other.

    The Citroen CX had the single wiper.

    I also appreciate cars like the current Ford Escape where the wipers fold together like two arms across the chest.

    • 0 avatar

      Which was essentially the setup for most American makes in the postwar ’50s and ’60s. I wonder why this was so (limitations of vacuum systems, maybe), what prompted the change to the more common layouts we see today, and why some vehicles have gone back to the “old” way (the GM minivans, 8th-Gen Civics, Ford Fusion, et. al.)?

  • avatar

    Japanese put wipers everywhere. Toyota Chaser: side windows. Nissan Cima: side mirrors. Hey, afterall they put ass-cleaning water jets on toilets, so no surprise here.

  • avatar

    My ’83 VW Scirocco had a single wiper. I was always jealous of the ’84 owners who got two.

  • avatar

    I owned a 67 Nissan Patrol. It had a seperate motor for each wiper blade the was operated by a switch
    on the motor. Nissan also placed the battery under the driver’s seat and it had to be the last vehicle made
    That you could hand crank.

  • avatar

    I was always fascinated by the articulated wipers on ’70s cars like the GM A-bodies, Ford Granada and Dodge Diplomat. No more pesky unwiped triangle on the driver’s side glass near the A-pillar.

  • avatar

    The current Passats use a ridiculous top lock wiper system that’s completely incompatible with older Volkswagens and also incompatible with the wipers for newer Golfs and Jettas. They’re both top locks but the Passat uses a slightly differently sized one.

    You’re literally forced to buy the OEM wipers-Bosch manufacturers the blades but you’re going to be buying the OEM set made by them, because the individual blades are only available in Mexico.

    Hilariously ridiculous.

  • avatar

    Although, I also like the R107 and W116 Mercedes with the two wipers piled on top of one another.

  • avatar

    Honda Fit: it has a big daddy wiper and a wittle baby wiper lol!

  • avatar

    How about oddball wiper connectors?

    The 4-th gen 93-97 F-body had these weird reverse J-hook connectors and you had to buy the specific Anco reverse J-hook wipers or you wouldn’t be able to hook them up. They also had little plastic spoilers on the arms so you could drive over 100 MPH and still use your wipers at the same time.

    I wouldn’t recommend the latter, though.

    • 0 avatar

      Most cars have the little plastic spoilers to keep them pressing down at speed these days. Just replaced a set on my wife’s Infiniti Q60 the other day.

      Somewhat related… anyone remember the trend back in the 80s with double wiper blades? Apparently retro rules as these things are back in style since Pep Boys is loaded up with them in every color under the rainbow including chrome and fake carbon fiber!

      • 0 avatar

        Well, little is relative I guess. The plastic spoilers covered the entire 24 inch wiper and were integrated into the arm itself. The 98-02 cars had a new (regular) hook design and eliminated the wiper arm spoilers. I spent money to change to the new arm style so I could actually get wipers easily. for a look.

        I can’t see how double wipers can be back in style. Modern monoframe design is extremely good, having a second blade on that can’t be adding much. Those duals look awful.

  • avatar

    Not mentioned: The Ford Falcon/Mustang/Maverick wipers that had different points, right arm to left, at the end of their swing. Reason being, the motor crank was offset with two rods working each wiper, and the top point was different relative to the two pivots. It was really annoying, to have first the one wiper stop, than the other as the first wiper took off in the reverse direction.

    Single wiper: The current generation Toyota Yaris. Say what you want about that McCar, but the single wiper, with its articulation arm (shades of 1970s GM!) does in fact clear more of the glass, and more effectively, than most sets of two wipers on most cars.

  • avatar

    I like the wipers on the R107, w116, and w126 Mercedes. There are two wipers, but both rest on top of each other. One wiper swipes completely to the other side, and the other one goes halfway. It works very well, and it is very neat to see in action. On the w126 the wipers rested below the hood, they were out of sight until needed. And they were very quick on the fastest setting. That system came before the Monoblade system that was introduced on the w124 chassis.

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