A good instrument cluster is like a good wristwatch. Sure, there are less extravagant ways to display speed, revs and the rest, but would you rather rock a Rolex or a Casio?
1. Ferrari 250 GT
The California convertible (not the bulbous new one) is a stunning example of classic minimalistic instrument design. In front of the driver sits a pair of neat chrome clocks showing speed and revs with nice big numbers, while a row of ancillary dials extends across the centre of the dashboard. It’s simple, but looks absolutely perfect.
2. Honda S2000
Honda entered the second millennia with its S2000 sportscar, equipped with a fully digital instrument cluster from the future. Of course, at this point we’d seen digital displays before, but the S2000’s was the first to display information in a sensible and clear manner. The rev counter lights up all the way to 9000rpm up top, with speed in the middle.
3. Lambo Reventón
It’s obvious the designers of the Lamborghini Reventón either really wanted to make fighter jets, or they wanted to give their supercar machine guns. The digital instrument cluster fitted to the limited-run Lambo looks like it came straight from a stealth bomber and even includes a runway-style tacho. And, err, a set of cross-hairs for the imaginary weapons.
4. Nissan 300ZX Z31
The 1986 Nissan 300ZX features one of the earliest developments of the digital instrument display with a boom-box-style rev counter and electronic speedo. It’s all a bit Back To The Future in the Z – the oil pressure and fuel gauges to the right are illegible – but Nissan was on the money with where the industry would be in another 25 years.
5. Lexus LFA
The LFA’s instrument display is a piece of digital art. Originally the supercar was going to be fitted with ordinary analogue dials, but in testing, the boffins found their mechanical tacho couldn’t keep up with the speed at which the atmo V10 revved. The result was an infatuating TFT screen that moved and changed colours depending on drive mode.
6. Pagani Huayra
The attention to detail that Horacio Pagani puts into his supercars is absolutely mind-boggling. He likens the instrument display of the Huayra to a piece of jewellery where each piece is milled from a single alloy block. The shine of the metal might make the gauges difficult to read, but who cares when they look so damn pretty.
7. Lexus IS200
The Lexus IS200 might’ve been a lethargic, undercooked rival to the BMW 3 Series, but in the gauge department it made the German look a little characterless. With its watch-inspired design, the IS had one of the most interesting instrument clusters of any affordable family car – a trend that has continued with the latest digital dash.
8. Subaru XT
Something was in the drinking water when Subaru was designing its XT coupe. Its dash could’ve come from a 1980s UFO. Oddball steering wheel aside, the gauges are a real highlight of this unruly Subaru. A small, car-shaped figure sits at the centre of the display and looks like it moves along a digital road as revs and boost displays rise either side of it.
9. Ford GT
To some it might look like the Ford GT designers sneezed on the dashboard and left the dials where they landed. It’s the only possible explanation for the speedo sitting over with the passenger. However, there is some method to Ford’s madness – the dials were positioned as they were in the original GT40 that dominated Le Mans in the 60s.