The Truth About Cars » speedometer The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Thu, 24 Jul 2014 17:47:59 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » speedometer Vellum Venom Vignette: More Cluster Commotions? Sun, 13 Jan 2013 18:09:42 +0000

Question #1. TTAC commentator Seminole95 writes:

Sajeev, I have another question for you.

Why do auto manufacturers increasingly make cars with hard to read speedometers? I was thinking of buying a Mustang, but I could not tell easily how fast I was going. The new Accord speedometer is harder to read than previous models.

My commute speed limit is 45 mph. I set the cruise at 54, because I have been told that police don’t start ticketing until you get 10 mph over the limit. I can’t see the 54 mph tick easily when the speedometer is hard to read.

Sajeev Answers:

Why? For the same reason they give us no rearward visibility! They don’t care about style with substance. And cameras/TV screens are cheap to install, and a nice option package for you to buy. If you can’t see behind you or look at your gauges, don’t worry: THERE IS A TV SCREEN YOU CAN USE INSTEAD. Woot!

Agreed on the 2005-up Mustang gauge cluster’s horrible ergonomics. But then again, we love our retro Mustang-Clydesdale design (not me)…don’t we? The worst was definitely the first Bullitt Mustang (branded) of the SN-95 variety. It was the one that set the bad precedent. The one that told common sense to go pound sand.

OH NOES WTF IS GOING ON?!? Or conversely: I’m Steve McQueen biatch, I don’t care how fast I’m going!!!

Question #2. Anonymous writes:

In the vein of ATS cluster article, what gives with the speedo on my new-ish Golf?

Up to 80mph, it’s one metric and above 80 it’s another. Before I noticed the disparity, I thought I was cruising along at 85mph because I had the needle pegged on the unmarked tick above 80. Little did I realize I was going 90, because I normally have the display set to fuel economy, not the digital speedo. What was VW thinking?

Sajeev Answers:

Dude are you really trying to hold your phone, snap a photo while exceeding (probably) the speed limit?  I’ve seen worse, but still…COME ON SON! I gotta slap wrists, and make this one Anonymous.

I don’t have a big problem with this setup, as there is enough space between the letters and a seasoned owner learns the denomination change over.  I’m not saying that VW gave you the best cluster but it’s okay.  Even without the redundant digi-gauge in the center!

Okay, I’m lying, I do have a problem with the cluster: 160mph? Really?  In a Golf? This is a good speedo for a high-performance model, exclusively.  Case in point:


This is the cluster from my 1988 Mercury Cougar XR-7.  Sort of, because it’s a Fox body bastard like everything else in my ride.  I added two different Thunderbird Turbo Coupe tachometers (1985 for the face, 1987 for the guts) and the stupid-rare Ford Motorsport 140 MPH speedometer.

Two design beefs: Yes, I have a factory looking 24PSI boost gauge, but I don’t have a turbo on my 5.0L V8…yet. Yes, this speedo is better than the factory unit (85MPH) but the selection of big numbers to highlight isn’t logical (115MPH?). But they chose the highlights that make it flow nicely.

Is this Cougar a bad design too?  Not really.  The speedometer is odd, but awesome.  Considering Ford Motorsport actually made a proper speedo for a unique vehicle (Thunderbird/Cougar only) this is impressive.  It makes me wonder if the Thunderbird Turbo Coupe was actually used by certain government agencies with alphabet names and covert operations. 

You know, covert operations demand a 140MPH speedometer in your jet black Turbo Coupe. Maybe someone at Ford knows the truth, as we all love the myth(?) of the Buick Grand National Turbos supposedly bought by the CIA. And how that somehow inspired the insane Buick GNX. Fiction is fun!

But your Golf? Not really. Just give it a boring speedometer, and let some idiot like me upgrade it with the Golf R unit several decades from now.

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Vellum Venom Vignette: ATS Cluster Commotion? Sat, 05 Jan 2013 06:07:56 +0000

Fellow TTAC scribe Alex Dykes put a somewhat innocent enough post on our Facebook Wall, suggesting the BMW 3-series has a reputation for homogenous design, while the new Cadillac ATS suffers from…well, what so many modern GM products suffer from: a new release that’s only “almost” there. The ATS gauge cluster was his proof.

This cluster spurred a commotion from our FB readers that merited a chat window popping up from the Esteemed Mr. Dykes, suggesting this is a good Vellum Venom. Agreed.

The ATS’ cluster, much like a 94-96 Impala SS’ body in midnight black, is fine at night. The two half circles at each side with the speedo resting atop a multifunction display like a side view of eggs sunny-side up is different: and that’s not a bad idea in a sea of straightforward circles from BMW and Mercedes. A previous foray into this territory by Detroit, the Lincoln LS, was horribly boring and bland.

So let’s wait ’till dawn, shall we?

Oh dear. This is just far too much like the charcoal Tupperware designed Pontiacs of yesteryear. While the Cadillac SRX’s jeweled signal lights are cool and ballsy like tail fins on a DeVille, the ATS has…beveled black plastic accented lights. And that’s the nicest part of the whole cluster.

The flat plane gauge housing, draped in a dull wall of flat black, with cheap needles (again, see the SRX cluster) is so decidedly downmarket that the Kia Optima wouldn’t have it. The multifunction screen’s shape, size and location makes it poorly integrated into the circular theme. And heck, even my Ford Ranger doesn’t have those bizarre indentations for the idiot lights. Where did it all go wrong?

Honestly I don’t know…but the last Buick LeSabre (2005) was probably a low point for GM gauge design. The lumpy gauge receptacles made of cold/brittle looking (yet surprisingly color keyed!) plastic look more like the cute mushroom-thingies from Super Mario Brothers. It’s purely unrefined, and a lack of refinement is the main problem with the ATS’ cluster.

Compare it to what we saw a few decades ago.

Here’s a 1983 LeSabre dash. Note how the warm and inviting looking (if fake) wood trim surrounds the round gauges in a non-mushroom like fashion. There’s also a nice chrome ring frenched in for a decidely upscale look, even with the famous Malaise-era plastic quality. The last rear wheel drive LeSabre, Electra, Park Avenues from the early 1980s had a very upscale quality about them.

It was like a traditional Cadillac, but cleaner and far less ostentatious. It, chassis dynamics aside, was a proto ATS in this regard. I can’t believe I just said that. But here we are.

Perhaps the next photo is better ATS historical reference fodder.

I wish I grew up with the first-gen Pontiac Grand Prix. Reading the history and seeing them at car shows leads a youngblood to think these GM products were the high point of entry level luxury for Detroit.

No, for the world.

A fantastic car? Probably. A fantastic gauge cluster with real walnut trim and timeless mid-century design in the chrome gauge bezels? Wow, that’s the stuff right there, son.

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