By Kimberley on Nov 06, 2007
Another business trip.   More work hours logged at Manchester NH & Dulles Washington DC airports.   Travel delays.   Arrive into California late at night.   Another rental car.   Another week at my "usual" Newark hotel.   Rinse.   Repeat.
However, like most of my trips, already this trip has offered me new experiences...   This time starting with my hire car.
Departing Dulles 2 hours later than planned due to flight crew staffing issues, I did not pick up my rental car from San Jose Internation until well after 10 p.m. Pacific, 1 a.m. Eastern time.   Under the color spectrum stripping orange lights of the Avis carpark, the car was merely darker than those that were lighter.   I knew it was my car only as the license plate matched what was written on my contract folder.   Good enough.   Get in, adjust the seat, start the engine, adjust the mirrors, test the lights, test the brakes, and jump onto I-880.
Except....   No dashboard.   Is that possible?   My tired brain struggled with the concept for a few nanoseconds.   No dashboard.   Are the lights not working?   No.   There really were no indicators.   No speedometer.   Nothing!   Just a blank panel behind the steering wheel.   Huh?
Instantly, I saw it.   But again, my brain struggled with the concept.   Someone had apparently moved the speedometer to the middle of the dashboard, putting it over the radio and gear shift lever.   Odd.   Very odd indeed, really.   I had never seen anything like it before.   I mentally stumbled.
But, the misplaced dashboard indicators appeared to be working, and I was beat tired, so I drove off.
40 miles and 24 hours later, I'm still having mini panic attacks thinking the dashboard has disappeared again, only to remember to look to the right.   But when I get used to it again, I like it.   Not having a dashboard behind the steering wheel allowed the designers of this little car to lower the dashboard height and provide additional visibility outside of the car.   Also, there is much less light pollution between me and the outside of the car.   (In my own car at home, I prefer to drive with the the dash lights turned way down or completely off to improve the viewing of the outside world.)   I can see the road better at night.   Also, I think having the dash to the right actually encourages a wider viewing of the road and roadsharers.   I am looking forward, but also looking a bit to the right more often.   Not a bad thing really.
But maybe the coolest thing about this rather odd unconventional design is that anyone in the car can easily view the speedometer.   And if you're a "backseat driver" like I need to be with my Speedy Gonzales husband, I can envision how this would be mighty useful feature.
Google "Saturn Ion Dashboard" to see what I mean.