Car interiors have changed a heck of a lot over the last few decades. Heck, car interiors have changed a heck of a lot over the last 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 on the pristine lawn of The Quail Motorsports Gathering on Friday, I couldn't help but notice the stark difference between a cabin from, say, a luxury car from 2005, to one from today. It's drastic. It's obvious that screens have taken over automotive interior design, but materials have changed drastically too. A Mercedes cabin from the early 2000s looks and feels cheap, with its gray rubbers and overly-textured leathers. Nowadays, those materials have been swapped for smooth leather, less-gummy-looking plastics, and a combination of real and faux metals. Not everyone's cup of tea, sure, but better overall.
Furthermore, some automakers nowadays want to do throwback interiors that mix old and new. Screens now give the appearance of old-school gauges, while some exotic sports cars have just completely given up on gauges and added racing-style screens to their steering wheels. It's wild out there. But without further ado, here are some of the interiors that really caught my attention 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 swanky, and its newest creation isn't the exception. The W16 mistral features two digital displays in its gauge cluster, but, much to everyone's surprise, it still retains that one analog speedo. That's awesome. It's right smack in the center, too, so the driver won't have an excuse for not knowing how fast they were going, officer. And yes, it goes up to 500 kph (310 mph).
Singer makes some of the cleanest, sharpest cars out there. Its 911 recreations are phenomenal, which means those cars' interiors are also phenomenal. Here's a photo of one I spotted at The Quail, in all of its retro goodness with its three-spoke steering wheel, crisp gauges, and no-frills stick shift. This cabin 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 onboard. A '90s TV-looking screen sits behind the steering wheel and a tablet-looking device sits on the "dash" on top of an air vent. That's all you get. The rest of the controls are on the steering wheel, just like in a proper racing car. Practical? No. Cool-looking? Sure.
Rolls-Royce Phantom Series II
Rolls-Royce and fantastic interiors go together like peanut butter and jelly. I came across a Phantom Series II that featured pink accents inside and out, which I really enjoyed. This is the kind of stuff you can cook up when you knock on Rolls' door and show them a blank check. It's bold. Plus, if others don't like your pink Rolls, then they can screw off.
1988 BMW M6
Let's take a trip down memory lane, this time to the late '80s. This BMW M6 I spotted was a handsome fella, and its well-worn interior showed that its owner appreciates a good time behind the wheel. Real gauges, an honest-to-goodness shifter, and all sorts of quirky buttons and switches adorn the extra-beige cabin. 10/10 would drive.
What an amazing piece of engineering the new Koenigsegg CC850 is. But, of course, the highlight of this insane car is its gated shifter. Talk about merging new with old, and managing to create something that not only looks good but also performs. And that wooden knob is the icing on the cake.
In person, the Rimac Nevera looks more like a spaceship than an electric hypercar. Its interior looks bland in photographs, but in person, it looks well-tailored and quite functional. I like the toggle switches, the normal steering wheel, and the dash-mounted dials that control the car's transmission and drive modes. It's very straightforward—just like the car itself.
I saved my favorite interior for last. I saw this BMW Z8 on my way out of the event and I just had to stop and admire it. What a stunning, red beauty. And look at that interior. The center-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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