Have You Ever Appreciated the Instrument Cluster Of Ferrari F50?
They say typography is what words wear, and that’s partly true cars and their instrument clusters, too. Think about it – every few seconds behind the wheel, you’re glancing at those stats, so it’s hard not to be affected by them, even to the slightest degree.
However, that experience is quite limited to the person sitting in the driver’s seat. The design of the instrument cluster, such as the texture of the panel’s surface or how the dial moves to the next position, is something only the owner really knows. And owners of the Ferrari F50 know that its gauges are among the best in cars.
F50 is polarizing, and a little wonder why. It has the impossible task of pursuing the F40 – a car so beloved around the world, it is essentially enjoying a second life as a composite wave icon. It uses the design language of Maranello in the 90s, produced alternately artwork and Crime on wheels. In doing so, the F50 has become a car that I both hated and loved from a styling standpoint at different times in my life. It sometimes looks like a dried plum with a giant wing; other times, it’s relatively elegant and sophisticated. It’s one of those cars that simply confuses you more the longer you look at it.
Likewise, there’s something baroque and ornate about the F50’s instrument cluster; a pair of overlapping rings decorated with a dear The typeface you just knew appeared on the menu of a stuffy restaurant or in a The Last Illusion game. It’s a little bit higher, a little bit more, but you know Ferrari can’t have enough because it’s overused under that little shell – for temperature, oil pressure, fuel level, you have can name it.
When everything is lit up, the whole thing looks like a Christmas tree. It’s distractingly mesmerizing. Secret; requires attention. Maybe that’s why when making Enzo, Ferrari chose the same mediocre typeface London used for its pipes. Glamor and circumstance have disappeared in favor of simplicity. I understand it from a practical standpoint, but Enzo’s dash also makes me feel numb to look at.
I remembered the F50’s gauges playing Gran Turismo 7, where you can watch a digital recreation of all of this beauty pageant, modeled and animated in real time, from your virtual driver’s seat. You can even observe the odd behavior of a tach measuring time on old race cars, like the Aston Martin DB3S and Porsche 917K, or obnoxious cars rev limit beep of FD Mazda RX-7. The kind of oddity that only a select few owners have ever known, immortalized in technology.