Journal: What’s On The Inside Always Matters

What’s On The Inside Always Matters

By Michael Banovsky
June 18, 2015
63 comments

Photos by Remi Dargegen and David Marvier

Much—perhaps too much—writing about classic cars focuses on exterior styling. Yes, the Ferrari 250 GTO and Jaguar E-Type are lovely creatures to behold, but as an enthusiastic driver, the inside of a car matters far more to me than what’s on the outside.

And the more modern cars get, well, the less I tend to like its interior!

I grew up with—and now own—a ’73 Porsche 914 2.0-litre, which was fitted with just about the most spartan interior Porsche offered that year. It was a great to experience the car as I grew older, and knowing the things that piqued my interest as a child—chiefly the big red defrost lever between the front seats—has given way to things I appreciate as a driver.

Now, I don’t need much more than a 914’s simple seats with little bolstering, simple black dashboard, clear black gauges, a clear view ahead to really enjoy myself when behind the wheel. Its Momo Prototipo steering doesn’t hurt, either.

For cruising, I’m a sucker for old American cars with interiors that exactly matched its exterior paint—and, of course, pretty much any interior fitted to the Citroën DS and SM models.

What’s your favorite car interior, and why? 

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901Engineering
901Engineering
6 years ago

In my view…..very difficult to beat the Porsche dash – 911’s. This would be from the early 911’s through say the late 80’s. So well thought out…..and that particular VDO design is the best I’ve ever seen. It truly sets the standard. This is particularly true of the 930’s.

Eba Normaalne
Eba Normaalne
6 years ago

Ferrari 288 GTO.
1975 Mazda rx-4/929 a friends car
1989 Porsche 944 s2 a friends car, i really dig the steering wheel, its so good! Gauges also look really nice and simple to look at.
My own 1989 Mazda s5 rx-7 turbo, i like the dashboard design, also installed VDO gauges for oil temp. and pressure + water temp. and a RE-Amemiya 80mm boost gauge. VDO just looks so good in a old car. I know the last two cars aren’t exactly classics but still they’re half a year older than myself.

Martin Olesen
Martin Olesen
6 years ago

The interior in our 400 GT is ,in my opinion, the best!

Glad Nicolae Părău
Glad Nicolae Părău
6 years ago

Ford GT40 or Lancia Delta S4 Stradale, can’t decide which one.

Jon Haynes
Jon Haynes
6 years ago

If I had a favorite it’d be the interior of the 1958 Plymouth Fury, and I love the simplicity of the first gen Minis (British Layland, not BMW’s dark plush design, it’s too busy)

Jon Haynes
Jon Haynes
6 years ago

I love my interior in my 1989 Volvo 240, it’s a bit bland, but it’s got Swedish charm. An air of utilitarian design with little features that give it tons of personality, like heated velour seats and other features that are nowhere near the driver, like the AC controls, lol.

Elad Shraga
Elad Shraga
6 years ago

1955 OSCA mt4 Vignale Coupe

Michael Davidson
Michael Davidson
6 years ago

The interior of my ’67 Ferrari 330 beats everything of the period

jfalguieres
jfalguieres
6 years ago

Every ferrari’s interior beats everything

HendrikO
HendrikO
6 years ago
Jon Naylor
Jon Naylor
7 years ago

For a road car, I don’t know that it’s ever gotten better than the 300SL…..

Pierro
Pierro
7 years ago

Well, to be honest, the picture you chose to illustrate this article is probable one of the best designed interiors to me, good old E30’s ! Everything is designed for the driver, the whole dashboard feels like it’s turning around you, and therefore anybody else who’s sitting in the car at the same moment can feel a little uncomfortable but, who cares, it’s a driver’s car ! Funnily enough, out of all the cars I’ve had the chance to drive, I think the toyota supra mk4 is the one that came the closest to that E30’s feeling…

Christopher Gay
Christopher Gay
7 years ago

I generally like no-nonsense race car interiors, but it just occurred to me what my favorite car interior is (was).

When I was a child I was shuttled around by my parents in a ’69 AMX. I’ll never forget the layout, the feel, the look, the smell, the sounds. It had what was called a (Mark) Donohue dash, of I think only like 10 were made. What a car. Should have kept that one in the family when I had the chance… talk about a beast of a machine. I remember when my mother would pick me up from grade school, I could hear the car rumbling from two blocks away!

Wish I had some pictures… I clearly remember there being a chip out of the wooden steering wheel.

Paul Steel
Paul Steel
7 years ago

Love the simplicity of my 02 interior

Christopher Gay
Christopher Gay
7 years ago
Reply to  Paul Steel

Yeah, I like mine, too. 😉 Only my steering wheel is on the other side.

John Roth
John Roth
7 years ago

Lamborghini Jarama, the horizontally oriented switchgear, while unique, is difficult to read and the console mounted stereo actually faces backwards making it impossible to read from a seated position. On the other hand, the driving position, foot well, shifter position, etc. are outstanding.

The interior represents a time before focus groups, design review committees and safety mandates, when both mistakes and triumphs sometimes found their way to production, and A pillars weren’t 4 inches thick to hold air bag airbag 7 and 8.

Tikhon Osipov
Tikhon Osipov
7 years ago

I love the one in Stratos. Something of an afterthought turned into brilliant resolution.

Louis Emelina
Louis Emelina
7 years ago

I might be biased, but I think Alfa Romeo’s interiors during the 60s and 70s were just about perfect. I’ll talk about the Spider, because it’s the one I know best. The dials shaded by massive tubes, the small gauges, oriented towards the driver, surrounded by chrome, the long shifter, the deepest ever dishes steering wheel, the flat dash … Much like the exterior of the car, it’s a collection of rather normal shapes, nothing terribly radical or particularly beautiful. But together they create this ensemble that works in unison with the lines of the car. I think this is one of the most important aspect of a car: sitting in it. If the interior matches the style of the car, they you feel like you’re sitting inside the car you’ve just been looking at, like you entered it, you now where you are. But it the interior is totally different, you’re just sitting in an interior. It could be any car, but it doesn’t strike you as being the one of which you just opened the door …

HendrikO
HendrikO
7 years ago

Freaky Fiat Multipla dash to suit its funky but very consequent concept: offer living space and good visibility for 6 passengers (3 per row). I hear that the short wheelbase and wide track even offered fairly good handling.

HendrikO
HendrikO
7 years ago

Alfa Romeo’s 164 interior stroke me the other day by being very 80’s with its blocky style (look at that central air vent and the square button tiles below!) but also came in some very plush incarnations. I guess that the glory of old was no more (Alfa 6 was the last “upper class” Alfa) and that they tried to transfer some of that glory to the top spec 164s.

HendrikO
HendrikO
7 years ago

Another striking Lotus interior is found in the Elise Club Racer. Even more stripped down than the interior of the standard Elise it showed a lot of bare metal structure and featured seat shells painted in one of the bold exterior colors with only minimal padding.

Antony Ingram
Antony Ingram
7 years ago
Reply to  HendrikO

Early Elise S1 cabins were even more bare – though by the time the Club Racer arrived, they were merely stripping out luxuries that had found their way in over the years. The S1 interior is appealing though, and the early steering wheels are nicer than the airbag-equipped units they use now.

HendrikO
HendrikO
7 years ago

The interior of the first Lotus Evora was design-wise very ambitious including the wrap-around contrasting band that included the dashboard itself and went all the way around and across the +2 seats in the back. A good place to be even if quality and the operation of some of the flash sitting buttons were flawed. Disappointing to see an aftermarket stereo/navi, too. But hey that’s small scale manufacturer issues for you. Driving position and those great Sportster CS seats were just perfect for – exactly – driving! 🙂

HendrikO
HendrikO
7 years ago

More TVR extravaganza

Interesting: some small scale manufacturers resorted to using interior bits and bobs from mass manufacturer parts bins. TVR reckoned that they are that small they could justify to have each of their bits carved from metal blocks piece by piece.

Tom DesRochers
Tom DesRochers
7 years ago

Why? Simplicity. There were some backseat memories as well. 😉

Highnumbers
Highnumbers
7 years ago

First series E-Type (3.8) – the greatest interior. Bucket seats, big wooden wheel , spun alloy dash and tons of switches and gauges. Because sometimes piloting a sports car really should feel like your’re manning a classic fighter plane.

Robert Hiermeier
Robert Hiermeier
7 years ago

I personally love the interior of way my 1985 Porsche 911 Carrera. All I did was take out the old steering wheel and installed a MOMO Prototipo wheel.
Any time I see a nice sports car I check out the interior, first thing I check and see if it’s a manual transmission. Nothing turns me off more than seeing an automatic in a nice sports car.

Francisco Séguin-Gervais
Francisco Séguin-Gervais
7 years ago

EUNOS COSMO !

https://www.google.ca/search?q=Eunos+Cosmo+interior&es_sm=93&biw=1920&bih=955&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ei=L4iEVchKzuugBNnSuIgH&ved=0CAYQ_AUoAQ#imgrc=XO9pemfHjAnfWM\%253A\%3BwNocBDDRFHb5eM\%3Bhttp\%253A\%252F\%252Fwww.mazdas247.com\%252Fforum\%252Fattachment.php\%253Fattachmentid\%253D202466\%2526d\%253D1368352157\%3Bhttp\%253A\%252F\%252Fwww.mazdas247.com\%252Fforum\%252Fshowthread.php\%253F123829986-My-Eunos-Cosmo-20B-Type-E-1993\%3B2048\%3B1536

Dan Glover
Dan Glover
7 years ago

Older Bugattis may not be the most comfortable of all, but man are they simple, tasteful and pure.
[url=”http://s23.photobucket.com/user/groomi/media/bugatti_57_atlantic_7.jpg.html”]Here’s the interior of a type 57 Atlantic[/url]

Gas Project
Gas Project
7 years ago

Any Pagani for pure theatre and craftsmanship.

Scott Allen
Scott Allen
7 years ago

[b]917[/b]

john tolle
john tolle
7 years ago

Try these, certainly on my top list. The first-the E Type-really, no explanation except can’t get a real fighter jet in my garage. The second, the BMW 3.0CS, because that’s when BMW was the Ultimate Driving Machine 🙂

Antony Ingram
Antony Ingram
7 years ago

I was going to suggest lots of predictable favourites from cars I’ve driven – Alfa Giulia GTV, Datsun 240Z, classic Mini – but then I remembered this shot I took after a few days with a Morgan 3 Wheeler. Not sure whether such an exposed car counts as an “interior” as such, but as far as the look, the sense of occasion and the feel goes, I’ve never sat in a better cabin.

Ian Miles
Ian Miles
7 years ago

I reckon there is no one interior that is perfect, however there are several that fulfill a specific need very well. The Audi RS4 B5 interior is about as practical an interior as I have come across ever. Everything is in the right place, high quality materials and driving at night in that blue / red light is a pleasure. The TVR Sagaris has to be the best pantomime interior. One of several TVR interiors that are outrageous, on the Sag though the exterior matches the interior. Aston Rapide for being cossetted whilst on a long long drive. You sit low and it seems to envelope you and you know you are in a V12 but refined and British. Finally something Italian. Before they went all F1 and daft, the 550 was a pefect blend of the traditional Ferrari layout, drama and a touch of modern.

Simon Potter
Simon Potter
7 years ago

Mitsubishi Starion, its like the interior of the Millennium Falcon 😀

Kalle Purrio
Kalle Purrio
7 years ago
Kalle Purrio
Kalle Purrio
7 years ago
Reply to  Kalle Purrio

sorry Poltrona Frau

Neale Laird
Neale Laird
5 years ago
Reply to  Kalle Purrio

I love the way they covered the dash in the same leather as the seats and the layout was superb the radio cover was a neat touch!

HendrikO
HendrikO
7 years ago

Link to Cerbera interior picture:
http://www.t-e-j.com/tvr/april2012/tvr_cerbera_4.2_rosso_pearl\%20(10).jpg

HendrikO
HendrikO
7 years ago

The interior of a TVR Cerbera must be one of the most striking caves of an automotive interior.

Antoni Mitraszewski
Antoni Mitraszewski
7 years ago

Maserati 5000GT by Carrozzeria Touring. And yes, this is real gold!

Andrew Salt
Andrew Salt
7 years ago

Stunning!

jfalguieres
jfalguieres
6 years ago

Amazing

JB21
JB21
7 years ago

I like a car interior really bare, but I can admire the tactile quality of some newer Audi and stuff, too. But hands down, the best interior to me is Art Deco inspired, dream-of-the-future American cars of old.

tom richardson
tom richardson
7 years ago

I had the pleasure of riding in a Singer Porsche recently, and the interior was just sublime. I’m a sucker for beautiful stitching, perfectly weighted switches, and the pleasure of varying tactile surfaces, and the Singer hit every one of these square on the head. Favorite of all time? Hard to say. But unquestionably a wonderful place to spend time.

Hari Theo
Hari Theo
7 years ago

I personally like minimalistic interiors which are bold enough to stand out but functional enough to use every day.

The 90s Mazda Cosmo interior is one of my favourites; I love the wrap-around design together with the 90s modernity and the subtle strip wood on the dash

Citroen CX is up there as well along with the simple functionality of a Saab 900 interior, a car which I would love to own some day soon :p

Andrew Salt
Andrew Salt
7 years ago

I’d recognise that second to last photo in the main article anywhere…Classic Range Rover. I though it was bland back in the day when I was younger, but I’m with TJ; simple function over form any day. I just didn’t apreciate it at the time. Why oh why are there so many unecessary gizmos on modern cars? I know the answer really, gadgets sell cars, especially to the young. Well, at least they have time on their side figuring them all out. I’d rather just drive…

HendrikO
HendrikO
7 years ago

No matter if old or new I like a proper sport seat as part of the interior. Surely not in every car but in suitably sporty ones.
In my eyes a proper sport seat gives a car (and its owner) a lot of street (or track) credibility and substance. A seat is not superficial, you don’t add it for visual effects but for yourself. For your own driving experience. Inner values so to speak.
If you open the door and are greeted by a proper sport seat it’s like the car says: “Hello there, let’s go for a ride! I’m prepared and will take care of you.”

Peter
Peter
7 years ago

TR4A

Jeremy DeConcini
Jeremy DeConcini
7 years ago

Probably an obvious choice, but the Porsche Speedster dashboard is one of my favorite things in the world.

Svetoslav Stoyadinov
Svetoslav Stoyadinov
7 years ago

Actualy the Audi 80 has a very beautiful interior 😉

Eric Bizek
Eric Bizek
7 years ago

I may be biased here but I think the 1965 Nissan Silvia and 67-72′ Mazda Cosmo sport had a couple of the best interiors of the late 60’s era Japanese sports cars. Much more detail on the gauge faces, bezels and steering wheels back then until they were taken over by plastic in the 70’s.

Frank Anigbo
Frank Anigbo
7 years ago

I’m glad the subject of interior has come up. I have found myself wishing that many of the owner articles on Petro included a picture of the dashboard, which is for me every bit as important as a beautiful exterior. To future contributors, please consider showing us the dash. Thank you.

As for the coolest interiors, I was just reading an article about the Ferrari 250 PF coupe; a beautiful place to be. The Volvo 1800 dash is to die for. The flying buttress front seats of my ’69 GTV delights me always. The dashboard of my Maserati Mexico entertains me to no end with its endless array of gauges and toggle switches. Then there’s that delicate-looking shifter.

The irresistible desire to stop and look back at my car as I walk away from it is a big part of it, but the view of my surroundings once inside I think is an even bigger thrill for me.

Guitar Slinger
Guitar Slinger
7 years ago

Hate to be the odd man out but in all honesty my favorite interior to date is the one in my modern [ 2011 ] daily driver . Simple , clean , very intuitive , everything I need within reach , nothing extra or unnecessary to be found [ no MBrace GPS etc in my car ] Two rather than a bevy of cup holders , zero distractions and more importantly an unobstructed view and nary a blind spot to be found . In comparison to the classics I’ve owned its my current contemporary’s interior I love hands down , bar none .

Now don’t get me wrong . There’s many a finely designed interior to be found out there in classic cars [ of which sorry Mr Lange Ferrari’s as in none of them are among them in my having owned three opinion ] But if push comes to shove .. I’ll stick with the modern thank you very much .

In response to this article in general then I’d have to say it is in my opinion a bit of ‘ waxing nostalgic and a case of trying to over romanticize a past that in reality wasn’t nearly as good as one who hadn’t lived thru it all might chose to believe . Things were … different back then . Not always necessarily better mind you . Just … different . And more often than not …. not really very good at all

Guitar Slinger
Guitar Slinger
7 years ago
Reply to  Guitar Slinger

…. but if push comes to shove and I’m pressed to pick a classic car’s interior . Hands down the Bristol 411 Series 2 . Function over form at its absolute finest

Josh DeHoog
Josh DeHoog
7 years ago

Favorite dashes in order:

1. 3000GT. It’s almost as if it was a modernized Datusn Z car interior.
2. Volvo 242 turbo. I’ve got a thing for dash centered gauges
3. Volvo 1800 before they used the nasty fake wood.

Sid Widmer
Sid Widmer
7 years ago

I have always had a thing for the Volvo P1800s dash. The silver trim with blue centered gages, not the less fortunate wood trim with black plastic trim. Maybe it’s the way all the gages and even the knobs on the radio line up on center across the dash that appeals to my OCD. Maybe it’s the suprise pop of color in the middle of the clocks. There is just something about it that seems perfect.

Frank Anigbo
Frank Anigbo
7 years ago
Reply to  Sid Widmer

I have owned two of these and for me, the art-deco dash of the Volvo 1800 is one of the best there is.

I want another one.

Josh DeHoog
Josh DeHoog
7 years ago
Reply to  Sid Widmer

One of my favorite dash’s too. It makes you feel like you’re driving some sort of exotic.

BrunoC
BrunoC
7 years ago

I would not relate car interior design with age, there are examples of great and bad interior designs from every decade. Of course the increase of gadgets and infotainment makes designing an interior more challenging. The more simpler and cleaner an interior is the more beautiful it looks. Also, steering wheels with airbags and buttons can’t equal classic steering wheels

Having said that I always thought that the E85 BMW Z4 has one of the most striking interiors ever, so clean and simple. Better still is the Z8’s cabin. I also quite like the shapes inside the latest Audi TT.

The thing that I mostly feel sorry the new cars have lost is the toggle switch. To my eyes they are the ultimate detail to make a beautiful interior and that is why, on average, old cars look better inside than new ones.