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Design Flaws & Foibles



  • fintailfintail Posts: 41,889
    My C43 had them, and I will admit that I thought the white faces combined with the italic font seems really gimmicky, as I suppose it was back in 98. The new car is standard colors and font.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 23,040
    I always hated was the strip speedometers where the central numbers are all squeezed together. Like this style, from a 1978 or so Cutlass Supreme:

    I think my '82 was almost the same, except that instead of 10-20-30, etc it went 5-15-25-35, etc, with the 55 highlighted in orange.

    For some reason, Oldsmobiles seemed to compress those central numbers more extremely than other cars. I've had two full-sized 60's Pontiacs, two late 60's Darts, and an '80 Malibu with horizontal speedometers, and while there was some compression towards the center, it wasn't nearly this extreme. You'd think that the older cars, with their 120 mph speedos, would actually be more compressed as they had to get a wider range on there, but that didn't seem to be the case.

    Just for comparison, heres an old Dodge Dart cluster:
    Now that I see the two side by side, I guess the reason the Dart's wasn't as compressed is because it used a longer needle, part of which was contained in that lower part of the cluster below the odometer, so only part of it was exposed in the display. On the Cutlass, they just didn't have as much room, so they used a smaller needle.
  • john_324john_324 Posts: 974
    One thing I don't like on speedometers is the trend toward ridiculously high posted speeds. A good example is the speedo of the late Toyota Celica:


    While I really like the tach positioning (red-line is vertical pointer), there's really no reason for an max speed of 160 mph. Almost 1/2 of the speedo is taken up by speeds either impossible to reach (at the high end) or undesirable for most drivers to reach (at the low end).
  • fintailfintail Posts: 41,889
    I think the weirdest speedometer and cluster was in the fintail.


    In the car itself, it was less odd, but still never fails to attract attention.

    And yes, the needle changes color as it rises. I made a crappy little video of it with my phone that I might post sometime.

    I like the high end speeds on the speedos of my AMG cars, as they technically are attainable!
  • lemkolemko Philadelphia, PAPosts: 15,294
    ...speedos from the '70s and '80s that have a little red "55" on them? It's an awful reminder of the automotive dark ages when I see them today!
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 23,040
    The speedo on the 2006 Xterra is similar:
    I mean, it has a pretty powerful engine and all, but would you really WANT to take something that upright and tall up to 140 mph, even if it could theoretically do it?!

    One thing I don't like about the Xterra's gauges is the way the speedo and tach only take up half of the gauge face. That forces the numbers to all get crunched together, and isn't the best for visibility. Also, when you turn the car on, those little chunks in the lower left corner of the speedo and tach face glow orange. Took me the longest time to stop associating that with an idiot light!

    Also, the oil pressure gauge always catches my eye before the temp gauge, because it's actually in the face for the tach. At a quick glance, I'll see the oil pressure needle creeping up toward "H", and my first thought is "damn, this thing is running hot". Until I realize that it's NOT the temp gauge. :blush:
  • john_324john_324 Posts: 974
    I know what you mean re mistaking gauges. My father's old 911 has 3 different oil gauges...temp, pressure and level, all clustered together.

    While oil temp and pressure always read properly when the car is on, oil level only reads properly when the car is running, but stopped and on a level surface.

    This has led (more than once, I'll add) a heart-stopping situation where I'm motoring along at a good clip, only to glance down and see a needle in the red! I freak out for a few seconds before realizing which gauge it is. :blush:

    The little pictograms don't help much either, as they all feature the same oil can, just with different things happening to it...
  • lemkolemko Philadelphia, PAPosts: 15,294 1988 Buick Park Avenue has similar-sized speedo and tach with the numeral placed approximately the same distance. The speedo is on the left and the tach on the right. They should be the other way around as the tach is more in my line of sight. Aside from that, I like that the car has full instrumentation - something very unusual for a late '80s domestic luxury sedan.
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,726
    I will chime in to say I am kinda sick of white-faced gauges too. Once all the Chrysler Group minivans have them, the trend has gone too far!! :-P

    Apart from that, most things about speedos never bother me, except when they! GAWD, no, please! Honda, are you listening???

    2014 Mini Cooper (stick shift of course), 2016 Camry hybrid, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (keeping the stick alive)

  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 23,040
    Apart from that, most things about speedos never bother me, except when they!

    Digital speedometers can be fun sometimes, though. Back when my uncle had his '88 LeBaron turbo coupe, before he sold it to my wife and me, I remember driving my grandmother in it once or twice. Just for kicks, out on the highway, I set the display for Metric, so it didn't take much to get it to register over 100!

    Scared the h-e-double-hockey-sticks out of her! :P
  • lemkolemko Philadelphia, PAPosts: 15,294
    My 1994 Cadillac DeVille had a digital speedo. I played the same trick on my girlfriend and she was like "Aaaah! Slow down!" In reality 100kph is more like 62mph. What I like about my Seville is it has both an analog and digital speedo.
  • john_324john_324 Posts: 974
    While I'm a fan of normal analog gauges in most circumstances, some of the digital ones aren't too bad.

    Those "video game" dash setups of the late 1980s Corvettes still seem kinda cool to me (showing my age I guess), and the Honda S2000's is growing on me.

    There's a sorta "pure functionality" feel that paring a digital speedo with an analog tach gives on a performance car... A lot of sportbikes feature this set-up. :shades:
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 23,040
    I think the earliest car I can remember seeing that had a digital dash was the 1980 Ford T-bird. I remember them showing it in the commercials for it, and thinking how cool it would be if Mom bought one of those.

    But now, looking back, I'm glad she didn't get it, because it would've been my first car. And I know she would've picked the smallest engine they had, which I think at that point was a 4.2 V-8 with something like 112 hp. I don't think they were sticking 6-cylinders under the hood of them yet, unless that 200 straight-six was a credit option? Shudder the thought!
  • 210delray210delray Posts: 4,722
    Good thing she didn't buy an '80 T-Bird. That generation ('80-'82) as well as the previous one ('77-'79) were hideous-looking! Motor Trend called the latter "aesthetically forlorn" (not when they were new of course). :P
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 23,040
    I always liked the '77-79 T-bird, but agree, the '80-82 wasn't so hot. For some reason though, I like the style of the 80-82 Cougar XR-7. The Cougar looks a bit sportier than the T-bird from that era (although that ain't saying much, I guess).

    Anyway, Mom ended up with a 1980 Malibu V-6, which turned out to be a pretty good car. No digital dash or hidden headlights (another thing I loved as a kid) but it served her well (and me, when she gave it to me in 1987)
  • 210delray210delray Posts: 4,722
    ...GM used white faced odometers! They had that same neat font they used for decades, but the numbers were black on a white background (except for the tenths digit, which was white on black). Somewhere around 1958-59 or so, GM made the switch.

    I still miss mechanical odometers, where you could read the mileage without power on in the car.
  • john_324john_324 Posts: 974
    I still miss mechanical odometers, where you could read the mileage without power on in the car.

    Not to mention much more dramatic rollovers... :)

    My '95 Beretta still had a mechanical odometer...white on black, though the 10s digit was black on white.
  • bumpybumpy Posts: 4,435

    The only car I've ever had without a mechanical odometer is the S2000.
  • rockyleerockylee Wyoming, MichiganPosts: 13,993

    Yeah I liked that also. I miss my 2002' Seville STS. :cry:

  • 210delray210delray Posts: 4,722
    The odometer photo shows the font I was referring to.
  • rockyleerockylee Wyoming, MichiganPosts: 13,993
    Long-delayed tests that include subjecting tires to extreme heat may be unveiled as soon as '07.

  • john_324john_324 Posts: 974 Beretta indeed did have that very same font on its odometer... :)
  • 210delray210delray Posts: 4,722
    The font goes back at least to the 1940s, maybe even the 30s.
  • derrado1derrado1 Posts: 194
    Now, I'm Australian, so I don't see many US-market cars in the metal. However, I read American publications daily and I have a lot of information stored in my head.

    I was scrolling through a message board topic the other day and I came across a picture of an SUV. Now, I know all the cars currently on sale in the US, and I could probably list all the trim levels, too. Nevertheless, this car wasn't instantly familiar. I didn't look straight at its badge, rather, I took in the rest of it and for a few seconds I thought,
    "What, is this some new Indian export or something?"

    Alas, no, the SUV in question was not a Mahindra. It was in fact, a Honda Pilot.

    Some people might say it's "elegant" or "simple"... "understated", perhaps "rugged", or maybe even "classic". I think it is pug-fugly. It manages to look not only dated, but also ill-proportioned, ugly and cheap. Of course, styling is subjective but if I were to make a list of the ugliest cars on sale, the Pilot would be near the top.

    What else would be there?

    BMW 7-Series - While I don't feel nearly as strongly as I used to about Bangle's design direction, the 7-Series still falls under the 'ugly' category. I was also starting to get used to the 2002 model when they went ahead and facelifted it. I think the facelifted version potentially looks worse. They diluted it so it's not as polarising or visually impressive, but kept those controversial details. The end result is perplexing. The 5-Series is more understated, but it still comes close to picking up an 'ugly' award.

    BMW X3 - Details are too fussy, overall design suits a bigger car. This is bizarre, coming from the makers of the X5 (which is one of the most beautiful SUVs ever). The X3 is the [non-permissible content removed]-child of the BMW crossover family.

    Buick Terraza/Chevrolet Uplander - These are pretty straightforward. The Relay dodges the award because it looks almost convincing. The cladding and the front clip make it look infinitely better than the Terraza/Uplander. Check 'em all out and get back to me on that one.

    Chevrolet Equinox - Manages to be both offensive and bland. The back is boring, the front is ridiculous, and the two just don't mix well.

    Chevrolet Malibu - Utterly bizarre from some angles, dull-as-dishwater from others. Unresolved and nowhere near cohesive. The Maxx, post-facelift, dodges the award because it manages to look reasonably interesting and moderately well-proportioned.

    Chevrolet Monte Carlo - I can see its charm, and I try to like it, but no. Just no. It's just so unresolved and bizarre.

    Honda Element - Go straight to jail. Do not pass 'go'. Do not collect $500.

    Honda Insight - Blech. It looks vaguely like a 1985 interpretation of what cars will look like in the future. Even if you got rid of some of the ridiculous lines, it would still look dated.

    Honda Ridgeline - You're probably thinking, "sure, pick on the Ridgeline, but it's a good truck!" I have no doubt that it is a good truck, or in the very least, an average one. I also tried looking at it in a rational frame of mind. However, my conclusion is that this is one UGLY truck. Some of it would look ok, but then they go ahead and have the diagonal 'walls' around the bed and the heavy-handed, forced lines that are there to make it look 'rugged'. They then try and hide it behind a veil of anonymity by putting a very, very bland front clip on there. No, that won't save this beast. Honda, you have designed some good cars. You sell a lot of cars, too. Don't get cocky.

    Honda CR-V - Some of it is warming on me. However, I will NEVER get used to that front. Up very close, it looks intricate and quite interesting. Take it all in, though, and it looks terrible.

    Hummer H2 SUT - It is supposed to exude ruggedness and masculinity. Instead, it looks plain dorky.

    Jeep Compass - I tried to like it. Some of it, I will admit, does look acceptable. As a package, though, it's pretty darn ugly. Even if it weren't a Jeep, it still wouldn't be a beauty queen in people's eyes.

    Kia Amanti - Kia should kill this quickly. It is every bad, cheap, Korean "luxury sedan" ever made in one nasty package.

    Nissan Armada/Infiniti QX56 - I like that Nissan takes risks, I really do. But in situations like this, sometimes you have to force them at gunpoint to get back into the box. The cheesy, cheesy chromework of the QX56 makes it look even more terrible. No thank you, Nissan.

    Subaru B9 Tribeca - Another shoe-in for an Ugly Trophy. The best I could say about this car style-wise is that... it...

    Toyota Camry Solara - From no angle whatsoever does this look good. It is absolutely hideous and like acid to the eyes. A Japanese Monte Carlo.

    You're probably wondering why certain cars didn't appear on the list. Well, it's because they either aren't on sale for the '07 model year or I actually like them. Share your thoughts!

    Some others came close. However, they have just enough style, spunk or even anonymity to avoid winning the infamous "Derrado's Ugliest Cars of 2006" trophy. Stay tuned for the '07 special in December '07.
  • fintailfintail Posts: 41,889
    I agree with it...especially the Solara opinion, and the awkwardness of the Monte Carlo. Really, all of those opinions can be agreed with easily.
This discussion has been closed.