We’ve all read about the 1983 Corvette that should have been but never quite made it. The ’83 that became the ’84 was the first generation of Corvettes to be built at the Bowling Green, Kentucky, facility and featured the continuing legacy of innovation and technology. There was one particular bit of technology that was truly fascinating within the world of automotive “goodies” and would be a major draw for the new C4 Corvette.
The belated ’83 Corvette—now the ’84—was the first automobile to offer an electronic instrument cluster with three separate liquid crystal displays (LCD) as standard equipment. It was manufactured by the AC Spark Plug Division of General Motors. (It was used in Corvettes from 1984-’88.) It is based on the microprocessor-based LCD cluster that displayed speed (max 158 mph), fuel, and rpm instantly. The speedo and tach along with the speed and rpm are presented in digital form as well as in an analog graph that changes colors from green to yellow to red as you climb the rev range.
Along with this, the center section that is displayed directly over the steering column is called the Driver Information Center and is equipped with analog fuel level display and four multifunction digital displays that are displayed at your will (actually at the flip of a switch) allowing for eight separate digital readouts. They break out into oil pressure/temperature, coolant temperature/voltage, instant/average fuel economy, and trip odometer/range/distance traveled on reserve fuel.
While this entrance into the world of high technology worked well on new Corvettes, these electronic instrument clusters were (are) prone to various “hidden problems” that can tax even the most diligent and savvy among us. The standard LCD Corvette instrument panel has turned into a nightmare for many with a 1984-’88 Corvette. Dark or non-operative, the instrument panel that was so pretty when new is often a major problem. For those not suffering with totally dark instrument panels, there are often intermittent lighting failures such as the dash winking out to blackness on railroad crossings.
Of course, time has taught us there are ways to fix these instrument clusters and get them back to the way they were meant to operate when new. I’m not going to get into what it takes to bring these very good looking dash panels back to life but to offer solace to those who have one (or more!) and find themselves trying to figure out why the once beautiful electronic instrument cluster is now darker than the asphalt you are driving on.
Corvettes have always been known for their gauges, instrument clusters, information centers. Let’s face it, the dashboard in your Corvette will be viewed more times by you than any other part on of the car. It’s a source of pride, of information and validation to your Corvettes performance. It truly is a monitoring system to the wellbeing of your pride and joy.
The first of the electronic digital gauges came out in ’83, oops I meant ’84, and was around until ’88. From then on the gauges clusters have been remarkably reliable and good looking. The dashboard is a signature item on any of our cars and we take great pride in its looks and the information it gives us. How else would we know what it needs, when it needs attention, and how else would we have validation at just how much fun we are having with our ride. There’s nothing quite like a set of good looking gauges. Vette.