dashboard futurism

Detail of a concept painting by Syd Mead for the movie Blade Runner

Some day back in the 1980s I got my hands on some SciFi-movie aficionado book, which, among many other things, contained concept paintings for Blade Runner (1982) by Syd Mead, who is labelled as “visual futurist” in the movie’s credits. Above is a detail of the interior of the policecruiser—not the “Spinner,” piloted by Gaff, but the surface vehicle driven by Deckard—as Mead envisioned it. What struck me back then was the dashboard being dominated by flatscreens. Flat panel display devices like LCD or plasma screens were not exactly the standard in the 1970s and ’80s. My first idea was that you could display any relevant data from the engine and beyond in any fashion on this screens. I showed the picture to some hardcore automobilists and told them my idea. But the reply was, they would prefer the traditional representation, circle-shaped gauges. In turn my reply was, that this was of course also possible on the screens, but was countered by the remark that they need reliable mechanical instruments—I gave up. What I did not know is, that the first prototype (1971) of the Lamborghini Countach was equipped with digital instruments on the dashboard. But Bob Wallace soon took them out and replaced them by traditional ones. With the Reventón Lamborghini finally realized all of the above.

Interior of the Lamborghini Reventon

Not only does the dashboard consist of TFT-screens, but you can also switch modes between futuristic and traditional representation of relevant data:

Dashboard of the Lamborghini Reventon

Dashboard of the Lamborghini Reventon

There is a third, smaller TFT-screen situated in the middle above the two main screens, sporting a g-meter as used in Formula 1 racing, but better known from fighter jets—in the latter context it indeed relates crucial information. Anyway, design inspiration from aeronautics in the interior as well. As reported Gerald Wiegert was very much inspired by fighter jets, when he built the “Vector W2”. Wiegert: “I wanted to be a Jet Pilot, but I didn’t have the eye sight for it, so I decided to make a car that is just like a jet.” Here is the interior of the “W2”, which really deserves being called a cockpit:

Interior of the Vector W2

Dashboard of the Vector W2

See? The instruments indeed are very matter-of-factly, like straight out of an aircraft, similarly cramped in. For comparison’s sake, here is a glimpse of the instrument panel of a real F-18:

Instrument panel of an F-18

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