NSU Kettenkrad Homepage
Hand-cranking a motor vehicle
This is the correct way to grab the handle of the crank to avoid injury. The thumb under the crank handle. This picture is taken from a driver's handbook from 1927.
This picture shows the hand crank of the Kettenkrad. Note that the crank is on the rear side of the vehicle.
From the 1930s on most vehicles had electric starters. When the electric starters became more and more reliable, the factories left off the hand crank.
Only the army wanted the hand crank until the 1970s (VOLKSWAGEN 181). The most impostant use of the hand crank was not to start the engine. It was used to turn the cold engine one or two times, to "break it loose", before the electric starter was engaged. This was important at really low temperatures. It helped to save battery power and to preserve the starter motor.
Only for emergencies (low battery etc.) you should start the engine with the hand crank.