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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I've always been fascinated by electronic displays. The first one I saw used in the instrument panel of a car was on a field trip; one of the driving parents had a new Lincoln Town Car (I have no idea exactly what year it was but roughly 1981-82). It looked simple even at that time and even to a kid, but the mere fact that electronics were at work and being displayed digitally made it feel like I was peering through a window into the future.

Today's electronic displays are incredible but, in some random searching, I started to come across an interesting collection of early digital instrument display pictures and thought I would share. There were some really wild ones from the '80s by other manufacturers, mostly foreign, but I've only included GM displays here.

I did it quickly and just for fun so it is by no means an exhaustive presentation (or even quality, in some cases). Also, if anyone sees an error in the dates or model descriptions, please correct me.

Some came from an interesting web site (which includes some of the wild ones I referred to) called Double You Digital here: http://www.doubleyoudigital.nl/~cars_digital dashboards.php

On to the pictures...


1978 Cadillac Seville


1984 Chevrolet Camaro Berlinetta


1984 Chevrolet Corvette


1985 Cadillac El Dorado


1986 Buick Riviera


1986 Cadillac Cimarron


1986 Cadillac DeVille


1986 Chevrolet Cavalier Z24


1986 Oldsmobile Toronado


1987 Buick Grand National


1987 Cadillac Allante


1987 Pontiac 6000


1987 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am


1988 Buick Regal


1988 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme


1988 Pontiac Grand Prix


1989 Buick Reatta


1989 Cadillac Seville


1989 Chevrolet S10


1990 Buick Reatta


1990 Cadillac El Dorado


1990 Chevrolet Corvette


1991 Cadillac DeVille


1991 Chevrolet Caprice


1992 Cadillac Fleetwood


1993 Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham


1993 Oldsmobile Delta 88


1996 GM EV1


It seems strange that the vibrant colors and ambitiously busy, technical look of the '80s lead into an oversimplified, generally boring monochromatic look in the early '90s.

With that said, I think my underwhelming boyhood glimps into the future (gleened in the early 1980s from a Town Car's archaic digital dash) has finally come to fruition in CUE...

 

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Thanks for posting that. Some of those 80s interior shots took me back to my teenage years. Still think the 1984 Corvette and 1987 Trans Am are cool looking. The 1990 Reatta's monochrome is at least the right shade of blue green to preserve peripheral night vision light a military aircraft ****pit.
 

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you need the digital ones the Chevy trucks had lolz
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
My pleasure Hitman1970! They certainly took me back to my teen years as well. And I agree about the '84 Corvette and '87 Trans Am's still being cool, the latter's in particular. From the eighties on, Pontiac seemed to be skilled with interior and button/control lighting. In high school I had an '85 Trans Am, not with the digital dash but it was the year they updated the interior and added lots of red backlighting. Dang, I loved that car.

MCGARRETT, I remember reading about the Riviera's touch-screen display in Motor Trend at the time. It was the first of its kind (according to Wiki... used only for casual discussions) and had a 9-inch CRT display! CRT for cryin out loud!! Neat stuff.


In the '80s, it seems the domestics had a jump on colorful and interactive digital displays ahead of the Japanese makes, interestingly enough. Although, some Japanese manufacturers made some neat displays as well.

The '85 300ZX had a really cool display...


same thing with their 1986 200SX...


Subaru's 1986 XT Turbo's(?) dash was a bit underwhelming but did look kind of 3d-ish...


Here's a fun one. Actually, it's a mess (why does EVERYTHING have to be accessible from the steering wheel?). Looks like a stage prop from Judge Dredd or Demolition Man. I believe it is a 1982 Lancia Orca (ItalDesign)...
 

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wicked!!!!! i love them. my 83 imperial has a good digital vfd dash
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Holden Calais dash circa 1985
Nice! I like how the designers provided the words "ELECTRONIC" (printed in classic '80s futuristic font). I suppose in the hair-raising event the driver forgot, it's tactically positioned. Looks like there's an information center at the top right in red LCD. It really seems like, relative to those from the early '90s, the earlier attempts not only provided more information but arguably looked more sophisticated, or at least were striving to.

As commented previously, Pontiac had some real cutting edge ideas but even Chevy was pulling off some impressive stuff. The '84 Corvette's standard instrument panel appears entirely ahead of it's time. Unfortunately, the image of the '84 Camaro Berlinetta's interior looked so much nicer than it actually was in person. My friend's older sister had one and, as anxious as I was to try it, after my first hands-on experience, I'd seen enough. Not only did it suffer from the common '80s-era quality issues, it was very cumbersome. Although visually appealing at first, everything didn't seem thought out. The rickety, pivoting HVAC/radio/tape player tower always made me wonder how long until it was going to snap and dangle by wires at the passenger's feet. That never happened but certain functions were sometimes reluctant to work. Great peice of history though.
 

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All the digital gauges shown are interesting, but the CUE beats the rest by a wide margin. To me, the best combination is analog and digital instrumentation, especially on standard instrumentation, such as speed, oil pressure, coolant temp, trans temp, fuel gauge, etc.
 

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If it's the one available on the late 80s to early 90s models you mean, it's there. :)

That's another one I remember staring at in the brochure (for hours) dreaming about...

1989 Chevrolet S10
naw this one:

 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
naw this one:
Oh yeah! On the '87+ C/Ks. Although I think the only digital display on those was on the stereo face. I think the guage dials were some kind platic discs that rotated behind the panel, appearing to fill up the black space. In some ways the discs made more sense than needle guages (more comprehensible at a glance it seemed). They only lasted a couple/few years on the C/Ks, if I remember correctly, and were replaced by traditional needles. Thanks for the memory!
 

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As someone else pointed out, the 1988 C/K dash was not digital but more of an updated version of the old redline speedometer, its more of a thermometer/steam gauge than a digital display. GM did that for a while in the 80's too, there was the "almost" digital display, like the on the base S-series truck and the Astro/Safari, early FWD Grand Am;s also had it too.

The cool thing about some of the digital display cars from the 80's is that they were sort of the first cars with a "handshake/greeting" when you started them, today its not unusual for all the displays to swing over to max and back and for the manufacturers logo to flash across the DIC, but for 1986, that was pretty new tech for the E/K-body cars, the Rvieras GCC would display the Riviera logo and the Eldorado/Seville would have a good/morning/afternoon/evening on the information center, kinda cool stuff for that era.
 
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