I think this is on-topic, based on other questions in the history tag.

So I'm re-watching Back to the Future, and there's the scene where Biff's bozos lock Marty in a car trunk. One of the band members then cuts his hand, while busting open the lock with a screwdriver.

It (only on this watch through 🤦🏻‍♂️) just occurred to me though, couldn't they just pop the trunk from in the cabin? Or was that a feature that was only invented sometime later than 1955?

I tried searching, but all the Google results I could find regarding trunk releases are related to the safety releases IN the trunk for kidnap victims, that have only become standard in the 2000s.

When did they start adding in-cabin release levers for trunks? And when did they become "standard" on new cars?

Specifically, I'm asking about the ones in the passenger cabin, that nowadays are usually under the driver's side of the dash, or sometimes on the driver's side floor, along the door frame.

  • Keep in mind trunk releases are usually optional extras, even after they were invented there were still many cars without them.
    – GdD
    May 17, 2021 at 16:16
  • Huh. I've never seen one without it (speaking of passenger sedans with a trunk anyway). I assume they became "standard" at some point.
    – eidylon
    May 17, 2021 at 16:25

2 Answers 2


FMVSS #401 mandated an interior trunk release for all passenger vehicles sold in the US after September 1, 2001. While some passenger vehicles had interior trunk releases previously (either as standard equipment or as an optional extra), all passenger vehicles were required to be so equipped after the rule's effective date.

  • It is surprising that those really became a thing so late. I'm actually asking about the releases in the cabin though, not the emergency ones in the trunk itself. Often located under the driver's dash or on the driver's floor along the door-frame.
    – eidylon
    May 17, 2021 at 17:37
  • @eidylon Sorry, I didn't get that from my reading of your question, so my answer isn't responsive. I don't know when the first trunk-release-from-the-passenger-cabin was installed, either from the factory or by a customizer. May 17, 2021 at 19:13
  • No worries. I updated my question to try to make that clearer.
    – eidylon
    May 17, 2021 at 19:18
  • FWIW I had a UK Rover 213 registered in 1985/1986 with an in-cabin boot/trunk-release. I also once had stuff stolen from the boot/trunk with no damage to the car, so presumably the thieves used this somehow to open the locked boot/trunk.
    – Paul Lydon
    May 18, 2021 at 10:07

Some cars can have the key remote programmed to open the trunk and that was 2001 on, Jaguar for one.

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