The car interior has changed a lot in recent decades. Heck, car interiors have changed a lot in the past five years. And if some of the interior designs unveiled at this year’s Monterey Car Week are any indication, they’ll be changing even more in the future. Ahem, Lincoln Model L100.
As I walked the pristine lawn of The Quail Motorsports Gathering on Friday, I couldn’t help but notice the stark difference between a cabin of, say, a 2005 luxury car and one today. It’s drastic. It’s clear that screens have taken over the interior design of cars, but the materials have also changed drastically. An early 2000s Mercedes cab looks and feels cheap, with its gray rubbers and over-textured leather. Today, those materials have been swapped for smooth leather, less gummy-looking plastics, and a mix of real and fake metals. Not everyone’s cup of tea, sure, but better overall.
Plus, some automakers these days want to do throwback interiors that mix old and new. Screens now give the look of old-school gauges, while some exotic sports cars have given up gauges entirely and added racing-style screens to their steering wheel. It’s wild there. But without further ado, here are some of the interiors that caught my eye at this year’s Quail.
Bugatti W16 Mistral
It’s no surprise there’s a Bugatti on this list. The boutique automaker’s designs are always chic, and the latest creation is no exception. The W16 mistral has two digital displays in its meter cluster, but to everyone’s surprise it still retains that one analog speedometer. That is amazing. It’s also smack in the middle, so the driver has no excuse for not knowing how fast they were going, officer. And yes, it goes up to 500 km/h (310 mph).
Singer makes some of the cleanest, sharpest cars around. His 911 recreations are phenomenal, meaning the interiors of those cars are phenomenal as well. Here’s a photo of one I saw at The Quail, in all its retro goodness with its three-spoke steering wheel, sharp gauges and no-nonsense shifter. This cab is all about one thing: driving pleasure.
A complete departure from the first two cars, Hennessey’s supercar goes the minimalist route with just the basics on board. A 90s TV-like screen sits behind the wheel, and a tablet-like device sits on the “dashboard” atop a vent. That’s all you get. The rest of the controls are on the steering wheel, just like in a real race car. Practical? No. Looks cool? Secure.
Rolls Royce Phantom Series II
Rolls-Royce and fantastic interiors go together like peanut butter and jelly. I came across a Phantom Series II with pink accents inside and out, which I really liked. This is the kind of thing you can prepare when you knock on Rolls’ door and show her a blank check. It’s bold. Plus, if others don’t like your pink Rolls, they can get rid of them.
1988 BMW M6
Let’s take a trip down memory lane, this time to the late ’80s. This BMW M6 I saw was a handsome fellow, and the worn interior showed that the owner appreciates a good time behind the wheel. Real gauges, an honest-to-goodness shifter and all sorts of quirky knobs and switches adorn the extra-beige cabin. 10/10 would drive.
What a great piece of engineering the new Koenigsegg CC850 is. But the highlight of this crazy car is of course its gated shifter. Talking about merging new with old, and succeeding in creating something that is not just looks like good but also performs. And that wooden knob is the icing on the cake.
Personally, the Rimac Nevera looks more like a spaceship than an electric hypercar. The interior looks drab in photos, but in real life it looks well tailored and quite functional. I like the toggle switches, normal steering wheel and dash-mounted dials that control the car’s transmission and drive modes. It’s very simple, just like the car itself.
I saved my favorite interior for last. I saw this BMW Z8 as I was leaving the event and I just had to stop to admire it. What a beautiful red beauty. And look at that interior. The mid-mounted gauges, that steering wheel (!) and the contrast of the aluminum trim with the red leather. Sigh, they just don’t make them like they used to.
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