Ode to mechanical gauges - before they disappear
When I first grab the keys to a car and get in, the first thing I look at is always the instrument binnacle. It’s the main sign of life once the ignition is on and the warning lights illuminate. Once they extinguish the engine takes over and the other needles sweep to life.
There’s a lot of artistic expression in the design of gauges and if you rewind back a few decades the OEM manufactures used to proudly stamp their logo - VDO, Smiths, Jaeger, Magnetti Marelli, Veglia to name a few.
As impressive as they are I’m not a massive fan of new digital displays purely because mechanical gauges I find better designed and somewhat more tangibly real. Before obtaining a driver’s license, the only way I could ‘drive’ was by virtue of video games and they weren’t nearly as immersive as what we get today. Once I was legally set free on public roads nothing could beat the real thing and part of that experience was excitedly revving the engine and looking at the rev counter sweep round with the same energy as opposed to staring at a screen.
I also think the more ones you have that move constantly the better. Oil pressure for example or forced induction boost pressure. I wish the M140i had one. If you’ve got something older and perhaps Italian then there’s a chance they all move around, namely the temperature ones.
I’ve selected just some of my favorites in the gallery below in no particular order. Whilst the future will flood us with digital displays we can alter to no end, and show us information mechanical gauges could only dream of - you wouldn’t switch from a Rolex Daytona to an Apple Watch in a hurry.