Journal: Which Automaker Crafted The Best-Looking Dashboard?

Which Automaker Crafted The Best-Looking Dashboard?

Michael Banovsky By Michael Banovsky
March 18, 2016
74 comments

The freedom designers have long enjoyed when crafting a car’s interior can make or break an entire vehicle stylistically, but in the past, these designers often paid little mind to driver comfort, function, or safety.

I recently tracked down and read Unsafe At Any Speed by Ralph Nader, for no other reason except it’s often referenced by (I think) people who haven’t read it. What I found most interesting is that the Chevrolet Corvair was a sacrificial lamb not necessarily because of its poor crash record—but because it was one of the few vehicles that had been mentioned by name in crash test results and accident reports. More often than not, period police and other investigations paid little mind to the potential for vehicles themselves being, sometimes, a factor in road safety.

All those gleaming, chrome, metallic interior surfaces we hold so dear thanks to the stylists at General Motors? Designers often had no clue polished metal knobs could be dangerous because, at GM at least, through the ’60s had been spending more money on highway safety research than vehicle safety research.

While I appreciate the steampunk-ness of early Pre-War vehicles, the majesty of an Art Deco Voisin, and the overt metallic shine of most pre-’70s interiors, my personal pick has to be from the ’80s. I’m in a car to drive, so chrome embellishments aren’t needed. Porsche 911s always score high marks, especially with such clear gauges, but the car I least wanted to leave was a Lancia Delta Integrale Evo II I drove a few years ago.

Yes, the constant creaking of this particular example’s interior plastic sounded like a sailboat tied to a dock, listing in the wind, and the materials inside were as drab and black as the alley behind your favorite nightclub, but it’s one of the few modern cars that makes you feel as though all of the money was spent on the drivetrain, the seats, the steering wheel, and its chronograph-inspired gauges. The Delta was nice, mind you, but I have a feeling I’d also enjoy the Lancia Trevi dashboard’s array of round cheese grater-like holes…

Which car’s interior is “perfect,” at least to you?

Image sources: pinthiscars.comtumblr.com, Remi Dargegen, and David Marvier

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RMBarnettHans TeijgelerJason LycettEtienne SteenkampThierry Recent comment authors
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RMBarnett
RMBarnett

I’m partial to my current toy, simply because I don’t have my true love, an EType

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Hans Teijgeler
Hans Teijgeler
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Jason Lycett
Jason Lycett

Early lotus espirit( 1975-88)
Amazing looking dashboard

Etienne Steenkamp
Etienne Steenkamp

DS5. & DS 3 (Citroën)… I drive a DS3 and its almost 10 years old and the interior of that car doesnt look 10 years old…well thats my opinion.

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Thierry
Thierry

Maserati Boomerang concept from 1972.

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Peter J Smith
Peter J Smith

Any high end British manufacturer. There is nothing like the sight of Smith’s gauges, set in burled walnut.

impaled nazarene
impaled nazarene

😉

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Craig Palmer

For its time, the renault avantime..just, so much room and a refreshing break from the dull interiors of the time in so many cars. Did I mention the feeling of space? Like taking a drive in your loungeroom

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bobmancini@cox.net
bobmancini@cox.net

I have to agree with the comments about the 70s-80- Trans Ams. I remember the tidy GT steering wheel and the machined instrument nacelle. Totally bad-ass. If the perfectly placed stick would have linked to something other than an automatic it would have made the fantasy better. Sitting in those cars as a pre-teen and then a teenager defined speed for me. For tangible modern machina, I love my 2016 Golf R. It has the seats that were only available in Audi fare a few years ago, perfect. The leather is good. There are thoughtful pieces that lend occasion, like… Read more »

george
george

Porsche 928 and Aston Martin. You can’t go wrong with waterfall interiors. They make the interior of the car look complete when they done well.

Jacob Jenkins

I like an interior that looks absolutely special. For that, it’s hard to beat the Pagani Huayra.

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Alfa Guy
Alfa Guy

Tipo 33

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Eba Normaalne
Eba Normaalne

944 s2 and fc3s rx7

Florian Prinz

2004 Spyker C8 i think

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Jason Fournier

The Alfa Romeo 164

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Carlos Ferreira
Carlos Ferreira

Came here to say it! Beat me to it…

Andreas May

The dashboards of the E9, E28 and Porsche 911 rank towards the top of my list. Simple, clean, yet elegant.
The Koenigsegg dashboards are pretty spectacular too.

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Tiens64
Tiens64

Can’t decide between the Citroen SM and CX.

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Stefan Boodt
Stefan Boodt

One of my modern favourites has to be the Alfa Romeo 159/ brera/ spider dash

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Ad van der Lee

Porsche 928, many years ahead, after 40 years still modern.

gio64
gio64

…. I don’t know… So many, so little time…
I really like the third generation RX7 dash. everything is exactly where it should be, with a couple of exceptions, the gauges are very clear and it’s all business, no stupid and unnecessary stuff. Only problems: no boost gauge and idiotic temp gauge, which in that car is a really bad thing.
I love most Alfa Romeo stuff prior to the mid 80s (special mention to the Alfetta GTV split dash) , I agree with the author, Porsches are awesome, Ferraris depends, although the older ones are absolutely sublime.

Vincent Rivera
Vincent Rivera

1931 Bugatti T51 Dubos Coupe

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Sid
Sid

I’m a big fan of the Volvo P1800S dash. Something about it looks just perfect to me.

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Rick Moreno

I love the 1964 T-bird dash concise with great visibility and loads of style

John McGrath

The current Audi dash style is killer!

Greg Long
Greg Long

Early DS

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Arya
Arya

The Ferrari 308 gauge cluster is definitely the best to me. Don’t know about complete dashboards though.

Arya
Arya

The Ferrari 308 gauge cluster is definitely the best to me. Don’t know about complete dashboards though.

Eduardo Valverde Silva
Eduardo Valverde Silva

Alfa Romeo!!!
A great place to sit and drive, to sit and enjoy the view.

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James Hasler
James Hasler

Saab 900 Turbo or any Saab dashboard for that matter from the 900 onwards. The clarity and ergonomics made more sense and still do compared to anything else I have come across. They were need to know basis only and while to many the black panel feature was ridiculous, actually it was quite brilliant especially on long journeys. The funny thing is I was someone who loved gauges by the shed load. The Jensen Interceptor or the Jaguar E Type are a delight to view but require constant monitoring. The architecture is stunning but in reality require too much distraction.… Read more »

Dan Tucker
Dan Tucker

I have always been partial to the Volvo P1800 dashboard.

Gino Pino
Gino Pino

Fiat Uno Turbo MK2, simply gorgeous.
also the wheel is beautiful…

Luís Rodrigues
Luís Rodrigues

Everything you need, in the front of your eyes. Every sports car should have one like this. Water temperature, oil temperature and pressure, analogic as it should be.

1989 uno turbo i.e.

Gino Pino
Gino Pino

Oh my God, I signed up just to write the same comment. Yes, I think that the Fiat Uno Turbo MK2 is the most beautiful and complete dash that I ever saw in my life. For me, is gorgeous, also the character for the numbers is perfect.

federico
federico

Fiat 500 dashboard Minimalist

Dane Boulton
Dane Boulton

Ferrari 288 GTO was beautiful

sebb427
sebb427

The Lamborghini 400 GT has one of the most beautiful dashboard designs of the sixties. One day I will make a watch with exactly the font that was used in the tachometer and speedometer.

Avinda D. Perera
Avinda D. Perera

I love the classic style of the alfa 156 dash. The finess of the audi a6 dash. And the all day everyday practicality of the land cruiser 70 series.

Vincent Cox
Vincent Cox

1970-73′ Datsun 240-Z dashes and stock steering wheel were a darn good look still even for today. Even the textures were good.

Darren Bell
Darren Bell

2nd gen Pontiac Trans Am. The engine turned facia with the tech that had the red line in the 1:00 position.

Bobby Degenhart
Bobby Degenhart

I keep coming back to the 70’s-era Pontiac Trans Am. It’s just so bad-ass. The ‘Formula’ steering wheel, the engine-turned-dash bezel, no-nonsense gauge layout. Just classic.

Juan Carlos Herrera
Juan Carlos Herrera

It depends on what “best” means. If it means simplicity, nothing is better than original Austin Mini Cooper S dashboard. Really, nothing can be more simple than that! Sometimes, lees is more…

JsT Fartin
JsT Fartin

Another vote for the Volvo P1800/1800S. As my mechanic (for my ’66 1800S) said, it’s what Volvo engineers in the fifties thought the future would look like. Yes, old before its time but lovely.

acceleration
acceleration

Years ago a pal rebuilt a Datsun Fairlady in English white with burgundy upholstery. I remade all the gauges in the same colour with his name on each. You can just make out “Hoover” under MPH on the attached:

Mark Bell
Mark Bell

If it’s ‘crafted’ you’re after then maybe the hand made levers an gauges of an early 60s’ Facel Vega, but for me, I love a facia covered in crackle finish paint with crisply figured chrome dials a la those cheeky Italian Devils of the same era. Remind yourselves of the opening sequence from The Italian Job…

Kevin Lynch
Kevin Lynch

I think the timeless architecture of the Porsche dash is the best. Seven generations of 911, simple common principles, subtle but excellent evolution and improvement. Love the current 991 GT3 RS layout, all the way back to the 3 gauge, green print with silver trim rings, of my 1966 Porsche – it’s the best dash of all time.

André Borges
André Borges

Would have to be a P80 platform Volvo or a 70’s/80’s Citroen DS/CX.

Tim Scott
Tim Scott

Alpine A110. Simple, clear gauges, well arranged. Beautiful.

ronaldo eduardo
ronaldo eduardo

I like the C1 corvette dashboard and the whole interior as well.
An deserves to mention on the list the jaguar xk 120 dash too.

moosesport
moosesport

It’s hard to beat the 80’s Porsches. The 944S, the 928S and the 911 are great.

Benjamin Shahrabani
Benjamin Shahrabani

60’s through mid 90’s 911. Simple but timeless!

Frank Anigbo
Frank Anigbo

Volvo 1800/P1800 S. Surely one of the coolest dashboards ever.

Sid
Sid

Yes! The P1800 S is my pic as well.