Don't Try This At Home: Another 80s Japanese Digital Dash Added To My Collection

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
dont try this at home another 80s japanese digital dash added to my collection

There’s no way I’m going to spot a junked 80s Japanese car with the optional super-futuristic digital dash and not go back and buy that instrument cluster. So, now I’ve got a genuine digital dash collection going on, adding the Cressida cluster to my ’84 Nissan 300ZX Turbo cluster and my ’83 Mitsubishi Cordia Turbo cluster.

One great thing about Japanese cars of the 1980s and 1990s is that the instrument clusters are almost always easy to remove and install. There’s a fascia that comes off with a few screws, then another half-dozen screws hold the cluster in the dash.

On a Detroit car from this period, you’ll find all sorts of one-way plastic retainers that made it easy for the line workers to smack the cluster into place with a sharp blow from a rubber mallet, Mickey’s Big Mouth bottle, or whatever tool was handy. You’ll break all sorts of stuff while removing the thing, because the low-bidder plastic used for the retainers has a service life of maybe five years. Meanwhile, German clusters are even worse, with all manner of crazy hidden fasteners, in super-overkill quantities. I’ll stick with the Japanese stuff… for now.

Which reminds me: here’s how you remove the clock from a mid-70s Cadillac. No tools needed!

Unlike the 300ZX, the Cressida cluster’s harness doesn’t plug into sockets inside the dash. I cut the wires as far from the cluster as far as I could get away with. I’ll get a copy of the factory shop manual, which will give me the wiring diagram I need to control this cluster with an Arduino microcontroller. My collection still requires a Subaru XT digital dash. Did Honda do any digital dashes in the 1980s?

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  • Beelzebubba Beelzebubba on Nov 22, 2012

    Honda didn't have a digital dash until the 2000 model year- the 2-seater Insight and S2000 sports car were both introduced that year with digital instruments. The '84-'88 Nissan 300ZX had the coolest looking digital dash, IMO. The big wave graph for the tach was particularly amusing and simultaneously, provided little to no useful information. My sister had a 1985 Z-car, white with red velour interior and it had the optional Electronics Package that included the digital dash, digital auto climate control and a bunch of other techno crap. I learned to drive in that car (it was a 5-speed stick) and took my driver's license test in it. So I have fond memories, even if the interior was the color of a slaughterhouse floor! Nissan offered a digital dash on the Maxima at least thru 1997-ish, but only on the GLE models. I think you're wise to avoid the domestics., They rarely worked properly when installed in the vehicles. My best friend's first car was a 1984 Chrysler Laser XE Turbo (twin to the Dodge Daytona) in Chocolate Brown and it had a digital dash and it talked (16 or so phrases/warnings, such as 'door ajar'). He got it in 1991 and it had over 150,000 miles on it, so it was pretty much worn out. It had a nasty habit of blowing coolant hoses loose on a regular basis, then it would announce "Engine Overheating! Engine Damage May Occur!" repeatedly....I heard that phrase so many times, and I would respond back to it with "No Shit!". It had an uncanny ability to state the blatantly obvious...god I hated that car!

  • Ric65704567 Ric65704567 on Feb 24, 2023

    A late response I know, the Honda city turbo had a digital dash in 1984/1985. So a very early contender.

  • JMII The change could help GM better collect data from its drivers and passengers, and it could also be used as a foundation if GM decides to charge for subscription services.Could? Like the sun *could* set in the west today?Things didn't so well when BMW tried to charge for this service. This will go VERY badly for GM. Can you imagine the customer service calls?Customer: hello I am trying to hook up my phone to my new car but it isn't workingGM: we offer Google services nowCustomer: ok I use Google all the time, but how do get the stuff on my phone to show on the screen?GM: its doesn't work that way, your phone is not involved at all, just enter all your personal information again into our system and we will manage it for youCustomer: ummm... my [insert name of competitive vehicle here] doesn't work that way.GM: but we've made it easier for youCustomer: seriously, you don't support Apple nor Android? Guess I shouldn't have bought this POS, I'll be sure to tell all my friends to never buy a GM product, have a nice day.GM: ...This ultra-mega-dumb even for GM. I assumed if anything moving forward technology wise more OEMs would stop developing their own systems as a cost savings measure and just let the phone OS handle everything. Seems data collection is more important. Well as long as TikTok isn't installed we are safe right?
  • Ollicat Wow, who doesn't want more data collected from them for free so they can be charged for subscriptions services in the future that they used to get for free?
  • Mike Beranek Yet another good reason to stick with an older "analog" car that doesn't steal your information, hassle you to buy stuff, and spy on your passengers.
  • Socrates77 Dmitry Medvedev is the equivalent of tucker Carlson I'm the US. All lies always trying to put lipstick on a pig Pathetic
  • IanGTCS Both Auto and Carplay work so well I can't see how on earth GM thinks they will somehow make a superior system. I've also found bluetooth music streaming to be flakier than wired but that could just be me.