Interior Automotive: The Evolution of Car Interiors (1970 – 1980)

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A century ago, cars were just automotive mechanical devices that moved you from A to B without caring how safe you were from the elements or whether you preferred to drive at night.

Fast-forward to the present day, we have cars whose interiors look and give the feel of a luxury living room on wheels. A car’s interior design is crucial to the users’, and buyers’ perception of it and is one of the major differences in car sales. 

In 2017, the global automotive interiors market was valued at $171.2 million and was tipped to get to $249.78 million by 2025. But before all the innovations, the decades within this past half-century helped shape the evolution of car interiors. This article highlights the evolution of interiors and how they contributed to a classic, magical and comfortable driving experience.

1970 – 1980

Long before the ‘70s, plastics had always played a significant part in the interiors of cars, but as the 1970s rolled out,  instrument panels like the dashboard were made from familiar black, slightly squashy plastic. The doors were made predominantly from wood or pulp board panels covered in trim. Chrome was also a prominent feature in high-end vehicles.

1980 AMC Concord DL couoe white 2021 AMO at Rambler Ranch

Styling trends focused on a more ergonomic and functional approach making the driving experience more informal. Even German automobile interiors applied simple yet stunning and comfortable graphics and methodical control layouts which made them very classic. For instance, the dials and the fact that everything was mostly non-digital.

Recall the oil embargo of the early ‘70s and that it forced carmakers to consider affordability at all times. It prompted American brands to create subcompact and compact car designs to counter import influence, reeling customers with shag interiors.

1975 AMC Pacer Base Model

8-Tracks and Cassette tapes were primarily functional, but by the late 1970s, car interiors began to spot digital displays, and graphic equalizers as their cabins looked more like recording studio consoles. This trend would continue further into the future as more controls, displays, and buttons in your car conveyed status.

You can also read our article on the subsequent decade Interior Automotive: The Evolution of Car Interiors (1980 – 1990) for more insights into the evolution of automotive interiors.

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