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Hagerty
Hagerty Employee

11 of the most insane automotive interiors, by decade

I recently asked those in the Hagerty Community about the most insane interior they've ever seen. (You should visit our Community lounge, and not just because I'm the moderator.) Our community users clearly did a great job, as their hard work motivated me to research this list of amazing automobile interiors over the decades.
https://www.hagerty.com/media/lists/11-of-the-most-insane-automotive-interiors-by-decade/
87 REPLIES 87
farna
Instructor

Maybe it's just my preference for AMC cars, but they had several designer interiors for 1972 and a few years after that are sought after today. Pierre Cardin for the 72 Javelin, Gucci for the 72 Hornet Sportabout (wagon), Oleg Cassini for the Matador Coupe. The Ambassador Brougham models )top of the line) were always rather plush, but AMC didn't have a designer interior for their luxury flagship. Probably because it was already planned to be phased out after the 74 model year. Nash had some fancy interiors in their Ambassadors also, one in the early to mid 50s with a "club" seating arrangement in the rear -- the back seat was two seats inclined toward each other with a large triangular arm rest between them.
Maestro1
Technician

One way or another they are all wretched excess and wonderful. I agree with the remarks below regarding the Chrysler 300s; they also were mildly bizarre and when lit at night (by electricity, dear friends, not other stimulants) the instruments were fascinating. I've had a mid Sixties Thunderbird and also like the interior. I've sat in an '80s Chrylser New Yorker and found that the seats, looking like the interior of a much larger car, and the instrument panel which looked cheap didn't fit together. Thank you Sajeev and stay well.
Reatta
Intermediate Driver

Levi's Edition AMC Gremlin. 1957-58 Cadillac Eldorado Brougham with "Lambskin" 1961 Eldorado Biarritz Ostrich leather seats. 1968 AMX. 1978 Buick LeSabre "Palm Springs" edition. All of these and many more would beat half of the choices you made. It usually takes me about 10 minutes to think up better choices then your writers do. Are you just not trying hard enough? I like the articles, but find that not enough effort goes into the articles. Most of the time, I just let it slide and enjoy it. But, this article could have been a whole lot better. Better luck next time.
MustangJim
Technician

My favorites here are the 59 Pontiac and 64 t bird. Can't be domestic interiors from the late 50s to mid 60s in my opinion. Loved the colors and the chrome
Zephyr
Instructor

I miss the days when cars had interior colors that coordinated with the exterior - red interiors on red cars, white or blue interiors on blue cars, etc. . And I especially miss going to the dealer and picking through the dozen or more interior colors available. Modern days: I had two Jeep Libertys for company cars and the interior choice was limited to gray or gray with a slight greenish tint.
RichSeymour
New Driver

Personally, I prefer the original 1962 T-Bird Sports Roadster's dash with its deeply grooved metal which blended seamlessly into the door panels for a real jet cockpit feel.
motolargo
Intermediate Driver

I once had a circa 1973 Chrysler New Yorker 2 door with a white vinyl top, a hideous turquoise paint job and a white leather interior. My friend, a writer for the New Yorker, said "this is not a car it's a night club". That pretty much says it all.
gramb2676
New Driver

And apparently the most insane interior is yet to come----------- with a place to stow a womans purse
RoadDog
Intermediate Driver

Guess I'm old. I never want to have a car with a large flat-screen mounted in the dash like the Tesla.
watkinsfollyj
New Driver

Hard to pass up the 1951-1954 Muntz Jet with the "snakeskin" iinterior !
Jim_K
Pit Crew

I might have missed it, but I don’t see a curved dash on that Olds.
Air_and_Water
Instructor

You're using the modern "dashboard" when this car was from the era of the original meaning. A "dash board" protected the buggy driver from the dash (manure) from the horses in the street. The Olds is from a time when that was still relevant.
Robert_A
Pit Crew

My mother's sister worked at the Cadillac assembly plant, in Detroit, in the 1930s, when Cadillac was still making custom, bespoke cars. My aunt told me the factory received an order of 10 custom Cadillacs from a wealthy Indian Maja raja that ordered all the seats and door panels upholstered in genuine tiger and leopard fur. The Maja raja supplied all the fur pelts needed for the seats to Cadillac, and also had other parts of the interior gold plated and encrusted in various precious gemstones. A show of wealth that put most of the cars of the Hollywood stars, to shame.
Gary_Bechtold
Specialist

I'll be honest the Tesla is the worst interior to me with it's giant iPad in the dash. I hate that. That says a lot considering the Aztek is on the list. To me the Tesla interior has quality control issues a 1980's Toyota would be unfamiliar with.

Boy interiors were so elegant and appointed in the earliest days on the finest cars. You could argue that in some ways today's best isn't quite that level.

Hudson
Intermediate Driver

A shout-out to RoadDog! No big screens for me either. Got a loaner new Subaru for the day and had to call back into the dealer because none of us could figure out how to turn on the radio! Can't imagine the cost to repair technology like that.
Inline8OD
Technician

We wonder how much effort goes into such filler pieces as this, or if the writer ever saw a Tucker in person. Because despite Preston Tucker's good intentions for a safe car, its cabin bleak as an ordnance vehicle.
Winston1
New Driver

Maybe it is just me, but if you look at the graphics of the Tucker and hear that the "front and back cushions were interchangeable." They don't look that way,....even close,....in my eyes.
FormerCav
Intermediate Driver

how about a Hudson Golden Hornet's interior.
You stepped DOWN into it. It had a HUGE wind up clock (that worked).
Jkatzen6o
Pit Crew

The Thunderbird was very underated. I have four. The1966 has modern styling an d features. An 18" thermometer speedometer, full gauges, flow through air, a door ajar indicator and much more. Itis fast, low, agile and styled.
02-orignal-ownr
Advanced Driver

Some years ago at Hershey I spotted a pre-WWI limousine with an interior as opulent as the pictured Silver Ghost's, except it was done in shades of violet and...purple. Quite striking, and even more so when I noticed the nameplate. It was a Studebaker!
SJ
Technician

1963 Corvette, all those gauges clustered together while you are looking through the Wood Steering Wheel. And that sideways radio is a classic.
ConfuciusRacing
Detailer

1983 Aston Martin Lagonda…to steal a line: ask the man who owns one! 😎
Sutton12
Intermediate Driver

After seeing all of those beautiful colours and curvy designs of the interiors of yesteryear, we finally look at the drab boring grey Tesla offering. Yawn! Is that really where we're heading?
KYColonel
Detailer

I fear we're already there.
KYColonel
Detailer

My favorites of all time are the 50s & 60s T-Birds.
I owned a 1965 Bird and I must say that interior was unrivaled, IMO.
On the other hand, I cannot forget Ricardo Montalbán hawking the "Fine Corinthian Leathers" of those pillowed New Yorker interiors. I fell for his line, only to be disappointed later.
NorthernRambler
Pit Crew

You could do a feature on the entire AMC designer series cars. I think each model they made had an edition that was badged under a fashion designer. I had a 1973 Pierre Cardin Javelin AMX, Fresh Plum in colour, factory Hurst 4 speed, cowl induction & 401 engine. It just screamed the seventies.
BillMcCoskey
New Driver

There are 2 production cars from the 1940s and 1950s that are far better choices than the ones featured here.

Take, for example, the 1946-1950 Packard Custom Super Eight's luxurious interiors. At a time when most car interiors were bland light tan or gray, and fancy versions typically meant tufted buttons on the seat backs, Packard offered 4 beautiful interiors in their top of the line cars. These bright colors were blue, green, maroon, and brown. The upholstery material was the finest wool broadcloth available, with a small square pattern woven-in.
The carpet was absolutely incredible, and even today no automotive carpet comes close to what it feels like. Ask ANY person who has sat inside a well-preserved Packard Custom Super Eight's interior and removed their shoes, how wonderful the carpeting feels. Packard had a word for their carpet, and the name is a perfect description: Mosstread.
But in order to fully appreciate the interior as you sit in the back seat, you must look up at the headliner. Those sewn ribs holding up the headliner don't cross from side to side like all other interiors. On the Packard Custom Super Eight sedans and fastback coupes, the ribs were installed front to rear, from the top of the windshield, all the way back to the rear window! Sitting in the back seat, it makes the car appear as if it's 2 feet longer.

6 years later, Packard introduced a revolutionary interior for it's Caribbean convertible and hardtop. Like the Bonneville shown, the Caribbean had several color choices featuring 3 colors of leather in it's seats and side panels. However when a more formal use of the car was desired, all eight of the seat bottom and top cushions could be unsnapped and turned over, exposing a wonderful woven material in matching colors!
Imagine taking your convertible to the beach on a nice sunny day. Returning to your car, you realize you've left the top down and now the leather seats are blazing hot, and the family is wearing bathing suits. No problem if you drove a 1956 Packard Caribbean! All you have to do is turn the seat cushions over to a nice cool woven material that breathes! However if you were unlucky that day and chose to drive your Bonneville, you'll need to lay out your wet and sandy towels all over the seats, to protect your tender skin!
And the 1956 Packard had an incredible dashboard as well. Modern automotive journalists have lovingly referred to it as Jukebox styling. A central glove box that when opened, had 2 recesses for drinks. As far as I know, these were the first production cars to offer cup holders! The padded dash and main dash body were color matched to the interior. The clock even had a second hand!
But wait, there's more! Unlike "other" luxury cars, where you have to manually select your transmission choice of travel using a long lever, In a Packard Caribbean all you had to do is select one of 6 buttons in a stylish box located where the shift lever used to be, and like magic, your Packard transmission shifted into gear and was ready to drive! And when finished, if you forgot to place your Packard in Park before turning the key off, the car did it automatically!

As for your choices for the 1940s and 1950s:
I've worked on and driven several Tuckers. Yes, they have a distinctive dashboard with a big open area for the passenger to get injured in during an accident, but the rest of the interior is rather bland. With the exception of the dashboard, the motoring media ignored the Tucker's interior as it was just not interesting compared to the rest of the car. A long time friend and Tucker owner, once said he believed by the time the selection of upholstery materials came up, the money for better fabrics didn't exist.

Well into the 1960s, nothing in the way of automotive interiors even came close to the opulence & extravagance afforded the driver and passengers, in a 1956 Packard Caribbean.

While not a production car, I believe the choice for your 1930's automobile should have been Duesenberg's show car for the 1933/34 Chicago World's fair, today known as "The twenty grand" because that's what the car cost to build, when the average cost for a new car in America was $605.
danobrien
New Driver

One of the most memorable cars I've ever seen is a 1959 Pontiac Bonneville sport coupe in Sunset Glow with that same matching three-toned interior shown in your piece. As flashy as the '59 Bonneville was on the outside that interior was the real show-stopper. The carpet even has silver metallic threads woven in to make it "glitter". This one is truly one of a kind and the epitome of 50's glitz and glamor. It's interesting that this came from GM's second tier brand, not from one of their more expensive makes.
Mikeonthebike
Pit Crew

We had a 1963 t- bird and the stainless interior trim and swing away wheel were awesome. They had that sports roadster cover for the convertible that i wished my mom had gotten. The exterior color was called “silver mink”! Today, i really like the plaids in the vw gtis.
jrb23321
Intermediate Driver

Loved the Caddies of the 70's. My Mom had a 74 sedan deville with the red paisley interior. The living room couch was smaller than the back seat.
Also, ran across a 76 fleetwood Talisman. Only had seating for 4, but both the front and back center consoles were huge.

Air_and_Water
Instructor

I'm glad you included the '64 (through '66) T-Bird interior. Those slotted hemispherical gauges are an important detail for that interior, though. Also, the way the console blended into the rear and the lines from the door panels went around the back seats is sublime. They're really thoughtfully laid out.
Reinhold_Weege
Instructor

"How many other brands stuck with an interior conceit for that long?"

 

(I'll assume you meant "concept"... darned spell-check robot)

 

I submit to you the Chrysler Highlander interior (which debuted in 1940).

 

46736135903a344cdcd1ffdd8783b48d

 

and the 1976 Chrysler Newport w/Highlander interior...

 

11664-1200

 

I also recall seeing some promo photos of a 1982 Lebaron Convertible with plaid interior, but I don't know if that made production and Google can't find it either. 

okfoz
Advanced Driver

All I have to say is older cars seats are way way better than newer cars. Old car seats just had better cushioning, for the most part, with some exceptions. If seat comfort was the only selling point I would rather drive a 77 Buick Electra than almost any new car.
Tinkerah
Engineer

To this day I have the air conditioner outlet vent on my downstairs mantle from (IIRC) a 1972 Thunderbird I was prepping for a demolition derby. Every vane is cast pot metal, aimed by joysticks and linkage rods. The assembly has got to be four pounds.
BPatLeMays
Intermediate Driver

I always liked the interior of a Kaiser Dragon
Zippy
New Driver

The 1925 Julian would give a good run to the Rolls for the 20's decade. Wish I could upload a picture, the car is in the National Auto Museum in Reno.
brb
Instructor

The Roll's (and Packard, and Duesenburg, etc.) coach builders did it best.
knownasthedude
Pit Crew

You have several articles about the Pontiac Aztek, yet you won't insure them as a Collector vehicle. I looked for some time to find one. I found one and I am so excited! It's amazing! And I bought it as a collector, not a daily. I have daily drivers and many collectors as well. INSURE THE PONTIAC AZTEK!!! COME ON HAGERTY!!!