See also prior dash makeover post.

Basic T facia dash

As our Jaguar restomod project evolves, the requirements and constraints on the interior dash design come into clearer focus. The original XJ6 Series 1 dash has a flat facia surface with a bullnose edging that is capped with a black vinyl top casing.

Original XJ6 Series 1 flat facia dash layout

Right hand drive 1960 Lotus Elan dash

The flat XJ6 dash surface echoes earlier British designs, from the iconic AC Cobra to the Lotus Elan. The simple flat layout favored solid wood, but some of the racing models deployed fabric covered aluminum panels. A lower “skirt” that ends at the shift knob gives the dash appearance a classic “T” shape.

Left hand drive 1960 Lotus Elan “T” facia dash

Our earlier design concept applied the T footprint, substituted modern digital for analog instrumentation, retained the center toggle switch panel, and added climate controls to the facia. A single DIN entertainment head unit replaces the radio.

Early dash mock-up with digital instruments, climate control, and entertainment unit

A further iteration combined instrumentation into two gauges — a dual speedometer/tachometer and a quad temp/oil/fuel/volt assembly — and widened the wood facia similar to the Lotus Elan.

Dash with consolidated gauges and extended height with leather underdash panel


Aftermarket product impact

Since these early 2017 design concepts, Dakota Digital introduced its HDX instrumentation package that reads CAN Bus data directly from the LS3 engine computer. The following table compares original XJ6, SpeedHut combo gauge, and Dakota Digital functionality.

The primary advantage of the Dakota HDX is the incorporation of various warning lights (this saves space and complexity on the dash) and the ability to display additional information without the need for more physical gauges.

In addition, Dakota offers enhanced illuminated climate control for Vintage Air Gen II that maintains cabin temperature and provides digital readouts. This mirrors modern systems; the alternative is the Vintage Air traditional knob panel layout with rudimentary adjustments and no temperature management feature.

The choice of IDIDIT steering columns provides the opportunity to incorporate turn signal switching, hazard warning, and dimmer functionality without the need to use up dash real estate. Finally, the increased display capability of flip-up screens that fit into a single DIN slot consequently alter access to the area immediately above the head unit installation.

HDX panel details

The HDX panel design offers a lot of control and information in a condensed space that still retains the vintage appearance of a 1960s British touring car. Note that no instruments or controls are located behind the flip-up screen.

The HDX system comes in two form factors: the 2018 model is rectangular with rounded corners, and the 2017 model is oval shaped.

HDX 2017 oval display matches the oval HVAC controls and center vent

The HXD 2017 5.75″ x 12″ elliptical fills the dash a little more than the 4.4″ x 11.4″ rounded rectangular 2018 model.

LED switches

LED 22mm switch panel

CAD prototype of switch panel

Instead of toggle switches, the control of lights, backlight demist, and washer/wiper can be handled by small footprint 22mm LED push button and rotary switches. An oval control panel with appropriate labeling that reflects the Dakota climate control adds to design coherence. A linked 3-position rotary switch turns on either fog or headlights if the parking light push button switch is activated. The washer push button is momentary. LED backlighting is triggered by ignition start (although lights will work without the engine running; wiring for lights shown below).

The following table summarizes the upgrade path.

Dakota HDX functions

The “universal” HDX-2018 rounded rectangle or the HDX-2017 oval shape both have a chrome surround that presents a cluster of six analog instruments — from left to right: voltmeter, fuel level, speedometer, tachometer, water temperature, and oil pressure — plus a center digital TFT (thin film transistor) display.

Dakota Digital HDX-2018

The screen is highly customizable with many color themes as well as an independently programmable night display. Below are blue and teal examples (dozens of variations are possible).

The HDX unit can be configured with a bluetooth device (like an iPhone); see manual for details. The digital TFT screen can be programmed to output a variety of readings and engine computer data.

Examples of programmable TFT display