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Best '70's domestic instrument panel

uplanderguyuplanderguy Kent, OHPosts: 10,670
Here's the best IMHO: /photo_01.html

First seen on the '73 Grand Prix, and also Grand Am.

I love the exterior of the '69-72 Grand Prixs, but I think the dash disappoints a little--other than the 'wrap around' feature. But to me, this '73 dash brings back some of the 'wow' factor of the '65 Grand Prix dash.

Monte Carlo dashes of the same period are bleak in comparison I think.

Your opinions?


  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 23,352
    My '76 Grand LeMans uses that same dash, so I have to agree that I'm partial to it!

    I'm too lazy to look up a pic to link right now, but I think the dash that Ford used in their midsize cars, starting with the '72 Torino/Montego and culminating with the '79 LTD-II/Cougar/T-bird was also pretty attractive, and informative.

    Another one I like is the '77-81 Catalina/Bonneville, and also the '79-81 full-sized Mopars.

    For the most part, I like any dash from that era that at least gave you the option for full gauges...something that was becoming increasingly rare.
  • uplanderguyuplanderguy Kent, OHPosts: 10,670
    edited September 2012
    You are right, I forgot it was later used in the Grand LeMans.

    I have to say though, that I think it was originally designed with a console in mind.

    I can't recall..when it didn't have a console, was the quadrant set inside the gauges, or was it attached to the top of the steering column?

    Those Ford and Mopar panels you mention, I seem to recall had lots of circles for instruments and A/C vents, etc.--I like that look too.

    Not a panel design per se, but I liked the smoked black trim panel outlined in gold pinstripe, used on the '77-79 Caprice Classic, above the glove box. I always thought if you took it off, it probably had "Impala" pressed into the hard plastic beneath, like the lower Impala had.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 23,352
    with the column shift, the quadrant is set in the lower part of the speedometer dial. I always thought it was interesting that Pontiac went through the effort to have two different dashboards for their midsized cars. IIRC, the Malibu/Monte shared the same dash, as did the Century/Regal, and all Cutlasses had the same dash...although it was revised a bit for '77.

    In addition to the '73-75 Grand Am, Pontiac also used the Grand Prix dash in the '75-77 Grand LeMans, which took over for the '73-74 Luxury LeMans. And they used it in the 1977.5 Can Am. In fact, when the molding used to make the spoiler on the Can Am broke, one deciding factor in canceling the car was the dashboard. The Grand Prix was more profitable, and every Can Am that sold meant one less Grand Prix dashboard. So, they decided to not bother making a new mold for the spoiler, and canned the Can Am.

    Kind of a shame, IMO. The Can Am was a cool car. Heck, they should've just kept making them without the spoiler! Or simply revert back to the base LeMans dashboard.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 23,352
    One dashboard that popped back into my mind, that I almost forgot about, was the '75-76 LeSabre/Electra/Riviera. It was very minimal, only a speedo and a fuel gauge, but I thought it had a sleek, futuristic-in-a-70's-sort-of-way look to it.

    Mopar's '77+ M-body Diplomat/LeBaron (and later Gran Fury and New Yorker/5th Ave) also had a nice dash design. It had sort of a driver-oriented cockpit shape, reminscent of the '73-87 GM pickups, and came standard with a temp and amp gauge. I don't know if you could get a factory oil pressure gauge, but the '89 Gran Fury copcar I had had an aftermarket one mounted low on the driver's side, away from the normal gauge cluster.

    One down side to the M-body dash though, was that if you got a clock, it actually took away a chunk of the glovebox space! In later years, with digital radios that had the clock built in, that was no longer a problem.
  • omarmanomarman Posts: 1,400
    I like the Pontiac IPs from that era too. In the 80s a girlfriend of mine drove a '72 Riviera with the engine turned dash like this one. Not much instrumentation compared to the Pontiac, but still it seemed to fit the glam rock style of a boattail Riviera back then. :shades:
  • lemkolemko Philadelphia, PAPosts: 15,302
    The 1971 Olds Ninety-Eight had a pretty neat instrument panel:

  • berriberri Posts: 9,152
    Those wrap around IP's were a short lived thing. I wonder of it was cost or problems that led to their quick disappearance? I thought they were kind of neat myself.
  • texasestexases Posts: 8,480
    Having the climate controls on the left is kind of odd, the front seat passenger (spouse) often likes to change them. Maybe that helped get rid of this arrangement.
  • uplanderguyuplanderguy Kent, OHPosts: 10,670
    Those are all good panels! I'll have to see if I can find a pic to post, but I like the '71 Cadillac deVille panel, with brushed metal panels. Nobody else must have liked it much, because before the end of the year they had fake woodgrain panels!
  • fintailfintail Posts: 46,281
    edited September 2012
    The 70s car I have the brightest memory of in my family had an uninspiring instrument panel:


    (gigantor 72-76 T-Bird). I still remember that frowny steering wheel shape. I bet the silver things on the hubs are cruise control actuators, too, I remember those vividly, they were like rocker switches.

    When my dad had a 60 Ford, he put a 9" rear end in it out of a 70-71 Ford that was being parted, I remember that car had the wraparound style dash too.
  • berriberri Posts: 9,152
    Ford IP's tended to seem chintzy to me.
  • uplanderguyuplanderguy Kent, OHPosts: 10,670
    Here's the 'early series' '71 Cadillac deVille instrument panel trim I like:
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 23,352
    It does look nice, with that silver trim, and I like the driver-oriented, cockpit style layout of the gauges (what few there were).

    I also liked that silver trim insert on the door panels. The '71 was pretty classy...for the 70's. So naturally, they couldn't leave well enough alone, and had to pimp it up in later years.
  • berriberri Posts: 9,152
    edited September 2012
    Two fine choices! I thought Pontiac put out some really nice looking vehicles, inside and out, from 61-66. I've always liked the Hawk GT, even more so than the Avanti personally. I also liked some of the Mopar IP's from the 60's, like the domed, back lit Chrysler one from around 61. I also liked that Mopar still gave you all four gauges on the dash back then, even on compacts. Of course, Virgil Exner also had some rather bizarre stuff too like the 61 Plymouth dash (well, the whole car really). The original Sting Ray (always forget which version was two words versus one on that) was a nice looker. Then there was the (for its time at least) space age mid 60's modern dash with the swing away steering wheel on the T-Birds.

    Going back another decade into the 50's, I think the mid decade had some good looking interiors. In particular, I liked the 56 Ford, 54-56 DeSoto and the 55/56 Buick and Olds IP's. Toward the end of the 50's, I liked most everything about the 58 Pontiac for some reason that I can't put my finger on. And the 59 Chevy dash was kind of interesting for its time.

    I wish there was more material out there on interiors really.
  • uplanderguyuplanderguy Kent, OHPosts: 10,670
    I like the Gran Turismo Hawk better than the Avanti, too. The DNA from the '53 coupes is still there, but I can't think of many '53 cars that could be sold as '64 models and be critically accepted like the Hawks were. I've read that although there are some visual hints linking the two, there are only a handful of parts numbers that are an exact interchange from the '53 to the '64.

    I like the '62 (I think) Chrysler dash that had the clear dome you mentioned. I like the '67 full-size Chevrolet panel too..huge round dials behind a clear cover.
  • uplanderguyuplanderguy Kent, OHPosts: 10,670
    You mentioned the '56 Ford dash. I've always liked it too. It's an example of simple and beautiful design. I like it eons better than the '55 Ford dash. I also still like the '55 and '56 Chevy dash, with some Corvette look there.

    Back to the '60's...I like the '61 Chevy dash (really, same as the '62), with the center glovebox. I hated on the '61's how the radio pushbuttons spelled out "Chevy" though. I love '61 Impalas but would have to find one with a non-pushbutton radio!
  • lemkolemko Philadelphia, PAPosts: 15,302
    The radio buttons spelled out BUICK on my 1968 Buick Special Deluxe.
  • uplanderguyuplanderguy Kent, OHPosts: 10,670
    I think "Buick" on the radio buttons is OK; "Chevy" I think is cheesy on a top-line Impala! It'd be like "Merc" for "Mercury" or "Olds" for Oldsmobile. I could be wrong, but I don't remember Oldsmobile ever using "Olds" on one of their cars, although I do remember them using "Olds" in advertisements.
  • omarmanomarman Posts: 1,400
    My aunt bought a new Buick Park Avenue in '78 and the plush interior with big round dials on the dash made the car feel expensive. Very nice seats too.
  • uplanderguyuplanderguy Kent, OHPosts: 10,670
    That is a great panel! I particularly like the clock over on the passenger side.

    One thing I didn't like GM doing around that time and later, is their using the 'casket handle' style pull on the doors.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 23,352
    edited September 2012
    I'm somewhere in the middle with regards to that Buick full-size dashboard. I do think the overall style of it looks great, but I never did like that clock stuck over on the passenger side. Just seems kinda random to me. I also don't like the silver dials, although by the time it ended up in my grandmother's '85 LeSabre, the dials were black, and the clock was digital and integrated into the radio, so IMO the overall look was much better.

    However. By 1985, the fake woodgrain had taken on a somewhat radioactive look that just didn't seem that pleasing to me. And, I always thought there was a lot of wasted space on the passenger side. They should have put the glovebox up higher in the dash, so it could have been larger. As it was, the glovebox was really tiny for a car this size.

    Another beef I have with this dashboard is that, as far as I know at least, you could not get extra gauges with it, like you could on a Chevy, Pontiac, or Olds.

    But, all that aside, it wouldn't keep me from bringing a nice LeSabre or Electra into my flock!

    **Edit: one other thing I remember about my grandmother's LeSabre, is that the dash padding was a high quality stuff that had almost a leathery look to it. It never cracked, either. I've noticed that most cars that used this kind of stuff never did crack...the Mopar R-bodies used it as well. However, another variable might have been that the padding didn't go all the way to the windshield. there was a metal panel between the padding and the dashboard that you could pop off to get to the speakers, and possibly other things. So, that might have had something to do with it. On cars I've had where the padding went all the way to the windshield, like my '80 Malibu, '86 Monte Carlo, and '85 Silverado, they all cracked.
  • uplanderguyuplanderguy Kent, OHPosts: 10,670
    edited September 2012
    I did like the silver dials, as with the woodgrain I was reminded of barometers I'd see in nice offices--I link it with 'sophisticated'!

    I think I know what you mean about the later 'woodgrain' on Buicks. If I'm remembering correctly, it resembled what Chevy used in '80-82 on Caprices and especially, Malibu Classics and Monte Carlos. A friend said it looked like 'brown paint when not stirred enough'. I agreed. In '83 on the Malibu and Montes, they started using a dark woodgrain that was rather flat in gloss, and used this on later Caprices too. I liked it much better than the earlier, shiny stuff.

    You're right about cracked's odd to not see a full-size Chevy, or Malibu or Monte Carlo, of the late '70's and early '80's without cracks on the top of the dash. Our '77 red dash never cracked in the 3+ years we owned it, but I knew a guy in college (I graduated in '80) with a '77 Caprice with black interior and it had a cracked dash at that point.
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