This 1967 Mercury’s Backlit Dash Proves Cars Were Better Without Screens

Before Apple CarPlay, there was AM radio.

byJordan Rimpela|
History photo

They don’t make 'em like they used to!” How many times have you heard that? Usually, in my experience, it comes from a man standing next to a '57 Chevy at a local car show who's all but got a tear in his eye.

He's right, though—they don’t make them like they used to, and in almost every measurable way, that is absolutely for the better. Sure, the internet could be sustained in perpetuity by people arguing over what’s best when it comes to propelling vehicles, but it’s the weekend. Let’s slow things down, park ourselves by the fire, and check out something neat. How about a nighttime look at the gauges in a 1967 Mercury Park Lane Brougham?

Maybe it's just me, but I don't generally find dashboards from the past two decades all that aesthetically pleasing—or safe. They aren’t all horrible, but most either alienate me with outdated technology or wow me with canned excitement for driving modes with goofy animations. (I'll give credit to the 2019 Kia K900 I drove, though, with its amazing turn signal cameras.) I also understand that technology and infotainment are inextricably linked to modern concepts of luxury, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it. Maybe I'm yelling at the clouds again.

But seriously, just look at the dashboard on this Mercury. It's not packed with any infotainment screens, and if you still enjoy AM radio in 2022, then this Park Lane is right up your alley. The design of the speedometer alone is worth the price of admission. And it has a light to let you know it’s cold! How neat is that? I feel like I could easily spend nights behind the wheel of this Park Lane and never tire of the blue-green glow of the dash as I effortlessly drive for miles to nowhere in particular.

Yeah, they don’t make them like they used to, and honestly? I’m okay with that. It makes what was once great seem all the better when you happen upon it in a sea of drive modes and system confirmations beeps.