Dashboards. Instrument panels. Every day we look at the arrangement of speedometer, rev counters, clock and other instruments. Sometimes they’re on, sometimes they aren’t. None of these instrument panels is the same, and during the past 50 years true marvels of more or less tasteful dashboard lighting and designs have emerged. In this short series we will introduce some of them to you. When did you last see green lights on the dashboard? Let’s just take a seat in an old French car.

Ah well, back in the day things were different. Not better, just different. BMWs had red dashboard lights, Audis and VWs white ones. Many French cars and some Italian ones went for a fresh green, just like Ford cars in the 70s. Today where white and bluish LEDs light up speedometer displays, this seems almost antiquated. But then the manufacturers did think ahead back then, and the chosen colors weren’t simply a design gimmick. Designers really thought about why they should give instrument lights in a car a specific color. If you get in an old French car, a Citroën XM for instance, everything shines – GREEN.

Green has a soothing effect without causing fatigue. So in theory it’s ideal for a long drive through the night. Looking at green lights is never tiring but sharpens your mind for all other impressions. The eye is not constantly diverted to the instruments, and there’s no risk of confusing them with the white and red lights of the other road users. What’s more, green provides a very good contrast to almost any other color, which was one reason for the green chalk boards at school. In the meantime they have largely made way for whiteboards, with black markers being used to scribble all over them. And green lights have also vanished almost completely.

Shame really. There’s actually a medical reasoning behind the soothing effect of this color, even though in the 70s people went a bit overboard in designing public spaces to that effect. Green means nature triumphing over winter, with new life, birds singing, and drivers hitting one green traffic light after another. Hey, cardiac patients, check this out – in light therapy the color green is said to provide a balance between heart and kidneys, with no adverse side effects. It’s worth mentioning at this point that drivers of old French cars would do well to look at soothing colors. But everyone really needs to find out for themselves. In the end, though, it’s also a matter of contemporary taste and which light you prefer to look at on your dashboard. That’s also a reason why you can configure your own light color in many modern cars.

What lights do you have in your car? Perhaps you’re not satisfied and would like to add a fresh touch or other effects? Osram offers a variety of LEDriving retrofit products which can be installed in all conventional cars in next to no time. Why not try them, even if they’re not green?

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