10 Coolest Dashboards of the 50s

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1955 Packard

by Frank Peiler

In the early days of the automobile, dashboards were just that: wooden planks onto which gauges and switches were mounted.

By the early Thirties, wood dashboards were replaced by steel, and designers began to take an interest in the collection of dials and knobs located there.

Today’s dashboards have become extremely complex. Not only do modern panels include the traditional array of readouts, they now also house air ducts, airbags, speaker grilles, and screens for navigation and infotainment systems.

But back in the Fifties, all that was needed was the basics—a few gauges, a couple of switches, a glove compartment, and room for a radio and a speaker or two.

Designers had plenty of room to play with, and had the latitude to be creative.

Presented here are my 10 favorite dashboards of the Fifties.

My 5 Favorite Taillights: Early ’50s Edition

1950 Chevrolet

1950 CHevy Dash

1950 Chevrolet Dashbaord

The all-in-one gauge cluster and two-tone design make this dash a winner.

1950 Ford

1950 Ford Dashboard

1950 Ford Dashboard

Simple, and beautifully executed.

1952 Mercury

1952 Mercury Dashboard

1952 Mercury Dashboard

My favorite dashboard of the early Fifties. This ultramodern aircraft-inspired dash took a number of cues from the 1938 Oldsmobile.

1953 Chevrolet Corvette

1953 Corvette Dashboard

1953 Corvette Dashboard

The Corvette’s sporty twin-pod design includes the clever incorporation of the radio speaker in the right-hand-side pod. I appreciate the clean grouping of circular gauges in the center of the dash.

1953 Oldsmobile

1953 Oldsmobile Dashboard

1953 Oldsmobile Dashboard

Very similar to the Corvette, but with larger elements and a lot more chrome.

My 5 Favorite ’55s

1955 DeSoto

1955 DeSoto Dashboard

1955 DeSoto Dashboard

DeSoto dashes of the late Fifties are among my all-time favorites. The twin-cockpit design comfortably predates the 1963 Corvette, which drew heavily from this arrangement.

1955 Dodge

1955 Dodge Dashboard

1955 Dodge Dashboard

A fresh new design, beautifully executed.

1955 Packard

1955 Packard Dashboard

1955 Packard Dashboard

Wow. Flashy and luxurious, and best of the high-price field.

1957 Imperial

1957 Imperial Dashboard

1957 Imperial Dashboard

Two large instrument clusters that even Mr. Magoo could see.

1958 Edsel

1958 Edsel Dashboard

1958 Edsel Dashboard

1958 Edsel Dashboard

1958 Edsel Dashboard

Completely driver-oriented gauge cluster with a cool floating speedometer.

My 5 Favorite Wagons

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