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It was the junked Samara that saved us by becoming the chassis of Steering Wheel’s simulator. The Samara is a Russian-made family sedan with a reputation for providing good value for the money in the cheapest category of cars. It is technologically very basic, and the design is plain, even clumsy. The junkyard agreed to saw off the engine compartment and the entire rear from the B pillar back. In the spring of 1999 the Samara carcass was delivered to the brand-new high-tech palace in Ruoholahti, Helsinki, where the Research Center had just moved. The original intention was to install the Samara in the usability team’s offices. The mangled metal, however, bristling with protruding wires, did not conform to the style guidelines of the new information society—not even with the special wax job the junkyard threw in for free. After many acrimonious exchanges, a place for the Samara was found in the deepest recesses of the basement where nobody would catch sight of it—not even accidentally.

Samara was not chosen by coincidence. It suited the purpose because of its design and brand. The Samara dashboard has a very open design. The gauges are relatively small, and the dashboard is close to the window, far from the driver. It was easy to build a new, modifiable dashboard made of cardboard over it without having to completely dismantle the old one. The brand also had significance. While this project was under way, the possibility of future cooperation with the automotive industry was an open question, so we had to choose a brand that was neutral and could not imply a commitment to any manufacturer as a future development partner. Better yet, the Samara was ideally suited for the UI design’s rough and dirty prototyping philosophy: using cheap materials to build a deformed but working simulator. With cutting and delivery, the Samara cost EUR 500.