Bring on the retro digital gauge cluster era

Digital gauge clusters have been around for a long while at this point, but their full potential is far from being realized. It’s a screen, after all, which allows you to do literally anything (within reason) to it. Now that I’ve seen and poked around the retro gauges in the new 2024 Mustang, I say bring on more retro gauge designs in digital displays.

I may not even need to say it either. Volkswagen recently showed off a retro gauge option (below) in its new ID. 2All Concept car. Unearthed by Daniel Golson on Twitter, the retro gauge options are meant to mimic either a classic VW Beetle or a Mk 1 Golf. The displays are magnificent and will take anybody back in time with their authenticity. Above all else, being able to drive around a modern EV (or any modern car) with retro gauges is just plain cool. With the freedom that screens allow us, why shouldn’t more manufacturers be drawing on the best of their heritage?

VW ID. 2All

Ford can take credit for getting this idea seeded in everybody’s head with the new Mustang. Its throwback gauges are meant to mimic that of the Fox Body from 1987-1993. They’re white-backed in the daylight, but switch to a green look when you turn the headlights on, simulating the green backlighting of that car’s cluster. Not only are they cool to look at, but they’re highly functional and legible, too. You can even choose to display modern data such as trip data, media info and more alongside it. Of course, Ford offers a blank option, too, so it can be just you and your retro gauges if you want.

Porsche, on the other hand, just missed an opportunity to give us a throwback gauge cluster option. The next-gen Cayenne’s interior was revealed yesterday, and for the first time in a gas-powered Porsche, the cluster is all-digital. The electric Taycan features a digital cluster, too, but being electric, there’s basically no reason for it to feature Porsche’s traditional center tachometer — it gets a pass.

However, the new Cayenne doesn’t, and while the cluster is customizable with a bunch of different layouts (including one with a central tach), a retro Porsche cluster is not one of them. Few cluster designs are as iconic and instantly recognizable as Porsche’s old clusters. Replicating the look of a 356 or any number of classic Porsche models would be an epic design choice.

We’re sure most of you already know your favorite gauge clusters from OEMs that you’d love to see make a comeback. Imagine the Honda S2000’s iconic cluster in the new Type R — one of the modes is actually part of the way there, but not all the way. Or think of what the wild digitized cluster of the 1980s 300ZX would look like on a modern Z car. The opportunities are endless, and we need more manufacturers and UX people at those manufacturers thinking this way. Bring on the digital retro gauge cluster renaissance!

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