Hooniverse Asks- What Car has the Best Looking Gauge Cluster?

It’s the part of your car that you look at probably more often than any other – aside from maybe the seat cushion to check for skid marks after a particularly frightening maneuver – it’s your dash. And as you and it need to be on so familiar of terms, you’re probably well versed in the nuances of dash and  instrument cluster design. So which one’s the best? Oh and on a related but totally irrelevant note, in what car does the above IP reside?
Gauge clusters originally were un-clustered featuring only a dial to tell you how long you had before your one-lung buckboard spat its meager oil supply onto the ground. But as cars became more complicated, the amount of information needed to be conveyed grew by leaps and bounds. And then, a watershed moment occurred in the history of IP design – the idiot light was invented. That made gauges unnecessary, and for a long period of time, the only thing you got was a thin ribbon speedo, and a gas gauge that seemed to take for ever to get down to a quarter tank, only to go through that last fourth seemingly in seconds. Today we enjoy everything from simple analog gauges to florescent floating needle displays, and of course, the TV screen digital jobs that are always way too bright at night.
But which IP do you like the best? One of my favorites was the Isuzu Piazza, with its adjustable binnacles containing chicklet-sized buttons and switches. Maybe you prefer your gauges old school- perhaps set in a sturdy plank of wood. Or maybe you like the baroque ornateness of the fifties American dashes – laboring under enough curves and chrome that it was hard to tell exactly what the instruments were reading. You stare at it every time you drive, which one is the best?
 
Image source: [brian.mix]

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78 responses to “Hooniverse Asks- What Car has the Best Looking Gauge Cluster?”

  1. kestrel131 Avatar
    kestrel131

    Hey, looking at just the gauge cluster, I have to say the Volvo V70R was great looking…my parents have a XC70, and the gauges are nice, but the changes for the V70R were great looking. (EDIT: found pic)
    <img src="http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4007/4640518488_745d8a6026.jpg&quot; width="500" height="333" alt="Volvo V70R Dash" />
    I think my S2000 has one of the worst…it is kinda functional…reading a number for the speed is tougher than knowing roughly where a needle is pointing…I end up judging speed by the gear I'm in and how much of the tach is lit up/the sound

  2. Marco Avatar
    Marco

    Not flashy, but simple and easy to read.
    <img src="http://farm1.static.flickr.com/136/380964216_ce32fda783.jpg&quot; />

  3. OA5599 Avatar
    OA5599

    I always liked the sometimes-optional Rallye cluster on Mopar E-bodies. It always brings me joy to notice that the 150 MPH speedometer has 150 individual lines on it, so you can tell the difference between, say, 142 and 143 at a glance.
    <img src="http://www.performancecargraphics.com/images/Dash_Stuff/Restoration/Instrument_Panels/E-body_Rallye.jpg&quot; width=500>
    Silk purse out of a sow's ear award goes to the Shelby GLHS. Don't want to go to the trouble to upgrade the speedometer? Add a sticker!
    <img src="http://www.dempseybowling.com/sheldodg/87ovrlay.jpg"&gt;

    1. Lotte Avatar
      Lotte

      Someone remarked that that old Challenger dash looked "like a floorboard". And the two pieces don't even match! I call it "charming". Gaudy, but charming.

    2. Vyk Avatar
      Vyk

      And then there's the Merkur XR4Ti, where they solved the opposite problem. Got a perfectly good 250kph speedometer, but you want to have it only go to 85mph? Just leave off the numbers above that and paint the tickmarks red!

    3. GTXEliminator Avatar
      GTXEliminator

      IIRC the sticker was to get around the law saying that cars could only have an 85 mph speedometer.

  4. Lotte Avatar
    Lotte

    <img src="http://i1228.photobucket.com/albums/ee456/HoonaLotte/lancia_Integrale_cluster.jpg&quot; width="500">
    I really like the ones on the Lancia Delta Integrale. So many gauges! So airplane-like! And geometric! And cross-hairs!

    1. Jeff Glucker Avatar
      Jeff Glucker

      +1,000,000
      It looks like a bunch of Bell & Ross watch faces…

    2. fede6882 Avatar
      fede6882

      it's great how the tach starts form the middle right, going down and then up again… the world needs more lancia.

      1. tonyola Avatar
        tonyola

        But that's not the best way to align the tach. In older aircraft practice, the gauges were set up so that under optimal cruising conditions, all the pointers would be close to straight up. It made a quick glance at the gauges easier and brought attention if something was amiss. If the needle on this tach heads toward vertical, you've destroyed the engine.

        1. fede6882 Avatar
          fede6882

          if you turn it 45º to the right, leaving the 9 where the 0 is now, you'd have it right on.
          but it wouldn't be lancia.

    3. OA5599 Avatar
      OA5599

      The bezel reminds me a little too much of this one.
      <img src="http://i296.photobucket.com/albums/mm176/andlf/ScannedImage-37-1.jpg&quot; width=500>

  5. SSurfer321 Avatar
    SSurfer321

    Subaru has a nice feature when starting the vehicle. The gauges light up and the needles sweep. It makes a pretty good time lapse photo [see avatar photo]
    I've always been impressed by Spyker's aviation themed dashes/IP
    <img src="http://image.europeancarweb.com/f/9350769/0608_EC_09Z+Spyker_C8_Spyder+Interior_Dash.jpg"&gt;
    IMG from EuropeanCarWeb.com

    1. muthalovin Avatar

      I agree, and was going to say that the STi has some pretty cool gauges, but Spyker takes the cake. Look at that!

  6. muthalovin Avatar

    I was mulling over saying NSX, but I have been browsing their gauge clusters, and it all sucks. Honda makes some very plain, very lame gauge clusters.
    By far, the best gauge cluster will go to 11, and have a boost gauge.

  7. tonyola Avatar
    tonyola

    Too many choices – I could spend hours trying to find a "best" one. I'll just put in a '68 Dodge Charger dashboard – so unmistakably American in form and yet so serious business.
    <img src="http://static.howstuffworks.com/gif/1968-dodge-charger-r-t-hemi-4.jpg&quot; width=500>

  8. OA5599 Avatar
    OA5599

    If we're not limited to cars that actually went into production…
    <img src="http://fastcache.gawkerassets.com/assets/images/12/2010/12/lights.jpg&quot; width=500>

  9. Matt Avatar
    Matt

    I definitely prefer the crazy 50's and early 60's dashes.
    The 62 Chrysler with this globe
    <img src="http://www.gearslutz.com/board/attachments/electronic-music-instruments-electronic-music-production/102923d1228791738-manley-massive-passive-62-dash.jpg&quot; width="500">
    The 61 Buick where you only see a reflection of the actual speedo via an adjustable mirror
    <img src="http://image53.webshots.com/153/4/18/47/489441847yDQnuo_fs.jpg&quot; width="500">
    The 58 Edsel, the pod rotates behind the stationary needle painted on the lens
    <img src="http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1427/1394287086_0d0a9998a2.jpg&quot; width="500">
    And the 65 Thunderbird, which is just so space age
    <img src="http://www.classicautoair.com/images/MS-TBird6466Dash2L.jpg&quot; width="500">

  10. dwegmull Avatar
    dwegmull

    It is quite a dilema: do you let fellow hoons guess which gauge cluster is in the picture, while being rude to the photographer by not linking to his site or do provide a link that gives away the answer…
    Back on topic, I like analog gauges, for the same reason I prefer analog clock over digital ones: a quick glance is all it takes to get some idea of what's going on. With digital displays, you have to read and interpet what you see before you know what is happening.
    As the owner of a V70R, I side with kestrel131's earlier comment.

  11. Jeff Glucker Avatar
    Jeff Glucker

    This will probably get poo-poo'd… but I like the look of the LFA gauges…
    [youtube 3wdce21IRKc http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3wdce21IRKc youtube]

    1. dragon951 Avatar
      dragon951

      Nah, all that glass is hard on my tract. It'll probably take me a day or two to work it through.

  12. Beer_Rover Avatar
    Beer_Rover

    The photo is from a Lotus Europa dash (Mystery Car?).
    I've always liked the gauges from a Mk 1 Esprit. They are a unique green color.
    Bonus points for the tartan interior fabric.

    1. Beer_Rover Avatar
      Beer_Rover

      I found a good photo of a Mk1 Esprit edit:
      <img src="http://www.toddsclassiccars.com/images/lotus/int.jpg&quot; width="400/">

      1. kestrel131 Avatar
        kestrel131

        amongst my friends we just call that "awefullsome"

      2. facelvega Avatar
        facelvega

        Does it say something weird about me that I just think it's straight up awesome?

  13. Jennings R. Scroggs, Jr. Avatar
    Jennings R. Scroggs, Jr.
    1. facelvega Avatar
      facelvega

      Wow, I see that pistonheads argued out this very question a few months ago, with LongLiveTazio making your point with I think a slightly inferior photo at the same angle of a different fv.

      1. Jennings R. Scroggs, Jr. Avatar
        Jennings R. Scroggs, Jr.

        LLT's photo is from a HK500. This photo is from the earlier FVS. I like those aircraft throttle style controls in front of the gear lever (though I haven't the slightest idea what they're for).

        1. facelvega Avatar
          facelvega

          Wow, even as a person whose moniker is Facel Vega, I never really looked at the two side by side before. Previously I've always leaned toward the HK500 as my favorite of breed, but you have a strong point with those aircraft-style levers.

  14. mr. mzs zsm msz esq Avatar
    mr. mzs zsm msz esq

    Only a thin ribbon for speed, some lights, and a gas gauge that goes down the last 1/4 very rapidly, well now that sound very familiar…
    <img src="http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1013/1395643482_3323ac5b6b.jpg&quot; width="500" height="334" alt="Speeding" />
    To be fair I do like the single double ended arrow light for the turn signals and the red ribbon for speed is really neat as well. The owner's manual even says that the color is red deliberately to convey a sense of increased danger as more red appears at speed. Those funny Swedes 😉

    1. coupeZ600 Avatar
      coupeZ600

      My 145 has the crazy sliding "target" marker that is always at 88mph.
      I have always wondered whether you were actually at the pointy part, the middle, or the trailing edge of the sliding mark……Good on ya for getting up to/near/past 100.

      1. AlexiusG55 Avatar
        AlexiusG55

        I think that gauge reads in km. It's exactly like the one on my 544 (which I was going here to post), but the (US-market) 544's only goes up to 120 (mph).
        I always thought it was the point of the ribbon, as none of it's visible when the car is stationary. On the other hand, given how speedometers overread, the middle or trailing edge may give your actual speed.

      2. mr. mzs zsm msz esq Avatar
        mr. mzs zsm msz esq

        Sliding target? I'm, intrigued. Do you mean the one that is like a triangle that moved left to right? That is not mine in the photo, I did not have a good picture of mine handy. If you click the image, it takes you to flickr. I have no idea really how fast I have taken Astrid. The gearbox is from a PV544 (we think), the tires are the wrong size, and rear end is probably the original. So anyway even though the tip is suppose to show the right speed, it really inaccurate. It was something like 25 means 20 before the gearbox change, they need to put a "your speed is" radar sign somewhere so I can figure it out again 😉 I have driven on the highway, the engine gets very loud at what I am guessing is 75. I would love the overdrive.

    1. Black Steelies Avatar

      From 9 to 20k rpms, just. like. that.

  15. salguod Avatar
    salguod

    &lt;Insert almost any random American car from the 50's or 60s&gt;
    Great examples above already. Here's a '62 Thunderbird:
    <img src="http://californiaclassix.com/images3/c412-dash-remote.jpg&quot; width="500/">
    1961 Corvette:
    <img src="http://image.corvettefever.com/f/9321654/corp_0708_05_z+C6_Z06_LS7_powered_1961_chevrolet_corvette+gauges.jpg&quot; width="500/">

  16. ZomBee Racer Avatar

    Sweet and simple, this is all I need… beautiful to look at even when they do work.
    <img src="http://www.mgexperience.net/article/images/wrinkle-paint/wheel.jpg&quot; />

    1. Thrashy Avatar

      We need to find where Ford Tempo Fanatic has gotten off to, and then arrange a cage match between you and him. May the best least terrible car win!

  17. goingincirclez Avatar

    Always loved the "meta" gauge pods on the '61 Continental – they're shaped like the Lincoln logo, but not offensively so.
    <img src="http://goingincirclez.com/Kaleid/Albums/BON/Verse/61ContiDash.jpg"&gt;

  18. tonyola Avatar
    tonyola

    Continental Mark II – amazingly clean for a 1956 American car, yet it's all there.
    <img src="http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4092/4985342216_2455080440_z.jpg&quot; width=500>

  19. Beer_Rover Avatar
    Beer_Rover

    The Lotus Elan +2 S uses Smith's with the same bezels as Aston. And more wood than Sherwood Forest.
    <img src="http://www.maderaconcepts.com/NewSite/VehiclePages/vehicle_images/lotus/lotus-elan-plus-two-S130_1.jpg"&gt;

  20. Tomsk Avatar

    The 1957 Chevy isn't quite over-the-top yet still unmistakably '50s
    <img src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_AOXixJlerNs/SND7LEmS8HI/AAAAAAAAA5Y/gLkDc1p0OPM/s400/1957-chevy-interior.JPG"&gt;
    Late model Aston Martins with their wristwatch-from-the-future looks and counter-rotating speedo and tach needles are boss
    <img src="http://www.autoblog.nl/images/db9_dashboard.jpg"&gt;
    And who doesn't love drum speedometers? (O.G. Toronado shown)
    <img src="http://www.kingoftheroad.net/toronado/images/quickpics/67toronado-101.jpg&quot; />

    1. tonyola Avatar
      tonyola

      Buick used a drum speedo on the '66-'67 Riviera and they even threw in something Olds didn't have – an oil pressure gauge. For some weird reason, GM used the spelling "gages" for years in their promo material.
      <img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3035/2826890612_79ddbe5952.jpg&quot; width=500>

    2. bboxy Avatar
      bboxy

      DRUM SPEEDO!!!! *drrooooll* oh, those wacky Toronados….

  21. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
    Peter Tanshanomi

    <img src="http://p1.bikepics.com/pics/2009%5C11%5C01%5Cbikepics-1819027-800.jpg&quot; width="500">
    1981-82 Honda CBX

  22. Maxichamp Avatar

    We have to have a post about ugly futuristic 1980s digital gauges!

    1. tonyola Avatar
      tonyola

      You mean like the one Subaru used?
      <img src="http://www.doubleyoudigital.nl/imgsold/digidash_subaruxt2.jpg&quot; width="500/">

      1. JeepyJayhawk Avatar

        How can that be awful? it has a turbo bar!

        1. tonyola Avatar
          tonyola

          Orange on brown? Yucko.

          1. alcology Avatar
            alcology

            I used to play with the mph/kph button while my mom was driving. Instant freakout. Oops.

  23. nitroracer Avatar
    nitroracer

    For a moderately priced modern car I always liked the look of the acura rsx cluster and dash. Sure beats the focus I had before.
    <img src="http://rsx.clubrsx.com/interior/RSXType-SInterior9.jpg&quot; width="600">
    I like the feature some cars have of sweeping the gauges on startup too.

  24. mdharrell Avatar

    "Gauge clusters originally were un-clustered featuring only a dial to tell you how long you had before your one-lung buckboard spat its meager oil supply onto the ground. But as cars became more complicated…."
    <img src="http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5297/5556227829_95760f727b.jpg&quot; width="400">
    Some of us remain wary of any further complexity.

  25. Tomsk Avatar

    Almost forgot about the Lamborghini Reventon
    <img src="http://files.blogter.hu/user_files/132039/bw_08reventon_dash2.jpg&quot; width="500">
    Doesn't it make you feel the need? The need for speed?

    1. jeremy![™] Avatar

      wait what, are you serious?

    2. Alex Kierstein Avatar
      Alex Kierstein

      Whoa, Michael Knight called … he wants KITT's dashboard back.

  26. Mad_Hungarian Avatar
    Mad_Hungarian

    1962 Studebaker GT Hawk. If only the company hadn't already been falling in on itself by the time they finally got the product oh so right . . .
    <img src="http://www.newstalgiamotors.com/images-content/cars/1962Hawk/10.jpg"&gt;

  27. smalleyxb122 Avatar
    smalleyxb122

    Damn.
    I was scrolling through the myriad of comments, with each one getting me closer to being able to post the gauges from a Lexus IS300, but lo and behold, right as I get to the bottom of the page…
    Some good suggestions throughout the post, but there is really something really neat about the Lexus Chronograph-inspired gauge cluster.

  28. BЯдΖǐL-ЯЄРΘЯΤЄЯ Avatar
    BЯдΖǐL-ЯЄРΘЯΤЄЯ

    With this dash the dictator in you will make you feel at home.
    <img src="https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/_jENN4i7WodY/TYvIr-R72vI/AAAAAAAACzM/cikNjJfibuU/MB600Pullman.GIF"&gt;

  29. ptschett Avatar
    ptschett

    '71-'73 Cougar XR7.
    <img src="http://www.autotraderclassics.com/scaler/632/473/images/a/2010/09/18/65688309/0_5_Dashboard.jpg&quot; width="500"/>
    It's hard to tell on the photo, but the two small gages above the radio (ammeter on the left, and oil pressure on the right) are aimed toward the driver's eyes.

  30. ptschett Avatar
    ptschett

    Also I like the '80-'86 Ford pickup cluster.
    <img src="http://i52.tinypic.com/20kadjk.jpg"&gt;

  31. Blaster_Bob Avatar
    Blaster_Bob

    I passed up on a chance to buy a Saab 9000 Aero a couple years back… regretted it ever since.
    <img src="http://www.autonews-trend.info/images/saab-9000cde%20%286%29.jpg&quot; alt="saab 9000 dash" />

  32. Jim-Bob Avatar
    Jim-Bob

    AMC Javelin AMX. I love the asymmetry of it and how it wraps around the driver but leaves all of that space in front of the passenger. it also has a tic-toc-tach and a 140 mph speedo. Not only that, but it had the engine turned inlay that is just pure 70's cool.
    <img src="http://www.allpar.com/photos/meets/Carlisle-2010/amx-dash.jpg"&gt;

  33. AlexiusG55 Avatar
    AlexiusG55

    <img src="http://www.driversfound.com/scirocco/history/bimotor/misc/bm12.jpg&quot; width="500">
    One for the 'strange" category

    1. brandon Avatar
      brandon

      I am guess it comes from a twin-engined vehicle?

    2. Shamal Avatar
      Shamal

      WOW It took me few moments to figure whats "wrong". What's that?

      1. AlexiusG55 Avatar
        AlexiusG55

        It's one of Volkswagen's twin-engined Sciroccos: http://www.driversfound.com/scirocco/history/bimo
        The big digital display in the middle is the speed readout.

  34. Age_of_Aerostar Avatar
    Age_of_Aerostar

    I always liked on the Pontiac GTO how the gage face color depended on the color of the car:
    RED:
    <img src="http://image.gmhightechperformance.com/f/features/8901292+w200/0405htp_gto_07_z.jpg&quot; width="200">
    PURPLE:
    <img src="http://media.ed.edmunds-media.com/pictures/VEHICLE/2004/Pontiac/100369148/2004.pontiac.gto.28335-E.jpg&quot; width="200">
    BLUE:
    <img src="http://ultimategto.com/2005/05_00092_2.jpg&quot; width="200">

  35. Alex Kierstein Avatar
    Alex Kierstein

    It's hard to argue with the Porsche 356:
    <img src="http://cache-02.gawkerassets.com/assets/images/12/2010/10/500x_porsche_356_gaguges.jpg"&gt;

    1. Alex Kierstein Avatar
      Alex Kierstein

      Also have a soft spot for the Honda S600/S800 dashboards.
      <img src="http://image.hondatuningmagazine.com/f/25376714/htup_0910_05+1965_honda_s600_roadster+interior.jpg&quot; width="710">

    2. Alex Kierstein Avatar
      Alex Kierstein

      But I think my favorite is the Gordon-Keeble … so sick:
      <img src="http://hooniverse.info/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/G-K.jpg&quot; width="720">

  36. jjd241 Avatar

    You guys with your fancy gauges. My speedo needle bounces all over the place and says 80 when the watch/mile marker test says I'm doing 60mph. The 710 gauge is pegged at max and the fuel gauge is pegged at E. I drive by ear/smell and the seat of my pants.

  37. JohnW Avatar
    JohnW

    I'm rather fond of the old Firebird dashboards. It feels like you're sitting in an 80s arcade machine.
    [img ]http://www.amcarguide.com/wp-content/gallery/firebird-c3/1984-pontiac-firebird-trans-am-interior.jpg[/img]

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