These Are The Old Car Features That Should Make A Comeback


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Image: National Automotive History Collection, Detroit Public Library

Big, wide rectangular speedometers that take up the whole gauge cluster like American cars used to have in the 60’s to early 80’s.

These died out. I blame John Davis and his obsession with full instrumentation. Suddenly, every car had a tachometer a few smaller gauges for oil pressure, temp, etc.This was great for entry level manual cars. But now sticks are dead, and it’s pointless. My wife’s CR-V has a tach taking up the entire left side of the cluster and a CVT. Why!? It’s providing no useful info any longer. Give me back my giant speedo!

Now that clusters are screens ancillary gauges like oil pressure, etc. can appear on demand or pop up if something is out of it’s normal range. But giving space to a tachometer by default is just silly nowadays.

It’s not just the rectangles we’re missing today. Looking through history, gauge design used to be far more experimental and ornate than it’s been since the 1990s. The Plymouth Fury above is an example. You’d think automakers would’ve taken advantage of digital displays to make up for that, as modern screens are infinitely shapable with zero moving parts. Instead, we get ugly, rectangular slabs shoved behind dashboard plastic like an afterthought. This isn’t the future we were promised.

Suggested by: Marion Cobretti


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Jaime E. Love

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