Some folks have bemoaned the loss of “full gauges” (ammeter, coolant temperature, oil pressure) ever since “idiot lights” appeared back in…the dark ages. Or more like the late 50s, early 60s, except of course for dear old Chrysler, and Checker too. I suppose I shouldn’t even enter this debate, as I’ve been driving my ’77 Dodge Chinook without a gas gauge for over a decade, and more recently without its temperature gauge. But hey, I can watch the (rock solid) oil pressure while I’m rolling down the highway! And the ammeter gives a reassuring surge after the engine lights up.
No doubt, the manufacturers saved a couple of bucks by replacing the gauges with warning lights. But I suspect it was a bit more than that too. By the mid-sixties, as drivers spent ever more time in their cars, and driving was second-nature, I suspect fewer and fewer driver ever scanned the non-essential gauges; a warning light going off was much more likely to get their attention.
And full gauges were still generally available, although all-too often in utterly absurd locations, like these on a Camaro. I didn’t realize until just now that the gas gauge was relocated to down there too.
Well, the question I pose is not so much about old cars, but newer ones. Yes, I like to have full gauges on a vintage car, as the odds of something going out of normal were so much greater, like keeping an eye on the temperature going over a mountain pass in the summer. And yes, driving an older car makes one feel a bit less secure, and it’s nice to know things are (mostly) in order. Strictly speaking, I have always felt that the both a gauge and an idiot light would have been the best solution, as even the most fanatic gauge-watcher might easily miss the sudden change.
But a car built in the past couple of decades? Fuggadaboutit. Overheating? Sudden drop in oil pressure? You’re more likely to be hit by an asteroid. In fact, if you’d asked me if my Acura TSX had a temperature gauge, I wouldn’t have been able to tell you for sure. But there it is; never looked it. I guess it makes for a symmetrical layout in the IP.
What about you? Still like to see full gauges on a modern car? Thought it was a crime to get rid of them?