• 14

<a class=Cadillac gauges then and now" src="http://www.weblogsinc.com/common/images/3340358581412236.JPG?0.6519350638871471" align="top" border="0" height="300" hspace="0" vspace="4" width="425" />

The instrument cluster used to be just a few needles and numbers that you had to have to keep aware of your speed and RPMs. Usually nothing too special, sometimes the speedometers were spread across the whole cluster, with a lazy needle slowly making its way to 55, like an old AM radio dial looking for a clear signal. Cadillac kept the big lazy dials up until the early 90's when the face of gauges began to change.

These changes within Cadillac were created with the cooperation of fine watch maker Bvlgari, whose help was enlisted to craft the IP cluster for the 2004 XLR, melding jewelry and style into what drivers look at most inside their cars. While Bvlgari is no longer working with GM, the evolution of the gauge cluster continues within the company.

<a class=Hyundai Accent" src="http://www.weblogsinc.com/common/images/8389732428674842.JPG?0.7600278902909434" align="top" border="0" height="200" hspace="0" vspace="4" width="425" />

While sitting in so many cars last week at the New York International Auto Show, the attention to detail on gauge clusters was astounding; colors, chrome, interesting and retro fonts, even Hyundai has gussied up the gauges for the entry level 2006 Accent, immediately giving the occupant a richer emotion when staring through the steering wheel.

<a class=Volvo S60 R" src="http://www.weblogsinc.com/common/images/1387385638540363.JPG?0.07731690951589548" align="top" border="0" height="188" hspace="0" vspace="4" width="425" /><a class=Mustang Shelby Cobra GT500" src="http://www.weblogsinc.com/common/images/3869866097708411.JPG?0.9151565398258015" align="top" border="0" height="175" hspace="0" vspace="4" width="425" /><a class=Pontiac GTO" src="http://www.weblogsinc.com/common/images/4608484405183684.JPG?0.45384943842684166" align="top" border="0" height="172" hspace="0" vspace="4" width="425" />

We see most of the more daring colors on high-performance cars. The Volvo S60 R gets deep blue gauges, the Mustang Shebly Cobra GT500 uses the MyColor? system that allows the driver to choose up to 125 colors for the gauge display. The Pontiac GTO matches the gauge color to the color of the car and the interior leather accents.

<a class=Dodge Charger SRT8" src="http://www.weblogsinc.com/common/images/2239358592513347.JPG?0.14147668076588932" align="top" border="0" height="158" hspace="0" vspace="4" width="425" /><a class=Chevy Trailblazer SS" src="http://www.weblogsinc.com/common/images/6563571723634457.JPG?0.30179394559774614" align="top" border="0" height="206" hspace="0" vspace="4" width="425" />

White-faced gauges have also become synonymous with performance cars. Ford?s SVT group and Chrysler group?s PVO (Performance Vehicle Operations) marketed them successfully to spawn a huge aftermarket business for replacement gauge packages that feature white faces with black lettering. The 2006 Dodge Charger SRT-8 uses white dials on all gauges, while the 2006 Chevy Trailblazer SS just uses the look for the tachometer.

<a class=Lexus GS 450h" src="http://www.weblogsinc.com/common/images/2994556245611989.JPG?0.04426315677579795" align="top" border="0" height="217" hspace="0" vspace="4" width="425" /><a class=Toyota Prius" src="http://www.weblogsinc.com/common/images/4968754664242743.JPG?0.6916374771265452" align="top" border="0" height="146" hspace="0" vspace="4" width="425" />

The needs of hybrids have also changed the looks of the gauge cluster. Battery charge and kilowatts have added to the infromation needed to be relayed to the driver. The 2007 Lexus GS 450h still looks like a traditional gauge package with a KW dial and a digital battery charge display, while the 2005 Toyota Prius goes digital all the way with a more ?center mounted? approach.

<a class=Scion xB" src="http://www.weblogsinc.com/common/images/2353716403758137.JPG?0.5429082071395661" align="top" border="0" height="138" hspace="0" vspace="4" width="425" /><a class=Nissan Quest" src="http://www.weblogsinc.com/common/images/7435544786608522.JPG?0.16189283064504611" align="top" border="0" height="128" hspace="0" vspace="4" width="425" />

The center mounted displays have been highly contested between automotive press, buyers and automakers. The Scion line-up decided to go center mounted like in the 2005 Scion xB and Nissan tried to shake up the minivan market by going that route in the 2005 Nissan Quest.

<a class=Mazda MX-5" src="http://www.weblogsinc.com/common/images/4349236367067779.JPG?0.20495876036035027" align="top" border="0" height="249" hspace="0" vspace="4" width="425" />BMW 3 seriesMercedes Benz <a class=R-Class" src="http://www.weblogsinc.com/common/images/6685925471414459.JPG?0.8409961000718167" align="top" border="0" height="239" hspace="0" vspace="4" width="425" /><a class=Land Rover Range Rover Sport" src="http://www.weblogsinc.com/common/images/4474704269313459.JPG?0.772611686545597" align="top" border="0" height="232" hspace="0" vspace="4" width="425" />

All this brings us full circle to the new ?standard? look in gauges; easy to read, chrome ringed and classy. These span the whole model spectrum from the 2006 Mazda MX-5, 2006 BMW 3-Series, 2006 Mercedes Benz R-Class and the 2006 Land Rover Range Rover Sport. Much better than many of the gauges of yore.


I'm reporting this comment as:

Reported comments and users are reviewed by Autoblog staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week to determine whether they violate Community Guideline. Accounts are penalized for Community Guidelines violations and serious or repeated violations can lead to account termination.

    • 1 Second Ago
      • 10 Years Ago
      My grandma has a '88 Coupe de Ville with that first dash but with a digital speedometer. Wow is it an unpleasant arrangement. I think in that car you can turn off all the interior displays but the speedometer if you want to, but I'm not sure what the point is. If you're over 85 mph it just blinks "85" at you, even though it can show a higher number (in metric mode it'll blink "137" or something.) As for the individual tick marks for speed that Steve B mentioned, my '05 Dakota has those, on a nice big white-face speedometer which glows indiglo blue at night. http://www.dodge.com/dakota/interior.html
      • 10 Years Ago
      Weirder the better if you ask me - check this out from the Citroen Visa of the late 70's. http://grumlt.citrina.lt/autos/Visa/1980_Citroen_Visa_Super_dash.jpg Utterly bonkers even by Citroen's standards - and they've come up with some right oddball dashboards in the past...
      • 10 Years Ago
      alt tags don't pop up in Firefox.
      • 10 Years Ago
      Interesting article. It's good to see the Shelby break the mould with a customizable color scheme for the instruments--something we expect from our computers but almost never get in our cars. Next, let's be able to adjust the size and font of the numbers! Personally, I'd like to see more head-up displays (like BMW's), so we don't have to take our eyes off the road at all..
      • 10 Years Ago
      i agreee about the automatic conversion between miles and kilometers by the speedometer. when i saw the car recalibrate between the two on fly i had to ask myself, shouldn't all cars do that? the double set of numbers has always bothered me...
      • 10 Years Ago
      Great write-up. Very interesting.
      • 10 Years Ago
      Living in Canada near the US border (like most Canadians) and having occassion to drive in the US, I think the big news in gages is the fact that apparently some will convert between miles and km. Seems to be the case on the new Impala. The double set of numbers doesn't work very well aesthetically or functionally. If you are wearing bifocals, the small numbers can be hard to see.
      • 10 Years Ago
      Wow. K.I.S.S. Of all of those images, the Grandma-style ribbon speedometer is the only one with clear labels for every 10 mph as well as individual tick marks for every mph. Most cars at least have 5 mph tick marks, but some of those have only labels at 20 and tick marks for the 10's in between. That's fine on a sports car, but does a 4 door sedan and/or economy car really need a 140 mph spedometer to guage your speed in a school zone?
      • 10 Years Ago
      I like my Audi's gauge cluster.
      • 10 Years Ago
      This is the kind of article I like. Good job. Also that Citroen has the COOLEST INTERIOR EVER
      • 10 Years Ago
      Don't forget the '05 Legacy GT and Outback XT guages
      • 10 Years Ago
      If you place your mouse cursor over the picture, the popup image name is the actual car. They are in the exact order as written about. I'll see about labeling the individual pictures.
    • Load More Comments