Which Automaker Crafted The Best-Looking Dashboard?
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?