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The Y Type “Dashboard”

Parking Ticket Displaying.


On many car park parking tickets that have to be displayed in your car, there are instructions of where and how to place the item so it can be read by a warden. This is relatively easy if there is a peel-off backing that allows you to stick the ticket to the windscreen. But the instructions were written by someone sitting at a warm desk in a dry office who only had knowledge of current cars. I suspect that their University education did not extend to taking into account those vehicles where their instruction cannot be followed (I understand that one needs a degree to get any type of office job these days). For instance the displaying a parking ticket on a motorcycle and sidecar! Yes, I own and run one and it does not have a windscreen, or a dashboard. To place the ticket anywhere on it would mean the ticket would either blow away, or get wringing wet if it rained if it were not stolen.


Now, I fully understand that most people these days who have a mickey-mouse degree probably have never seen a motorcycle combination so perhaps I might be being less than kind by my remarks. But when you are issued with a parking ticket that instructs you to place it upon your dash-board, then things get very complicated. My ancient MG ‘One and a Quarter Litre’ saloon has its instrument panel flush with its opening windscreen. There is no huge mass of tatty, cheap, black plastic under a gigantic acreage of windscreen glass to place such a ticket. This is very common of the older car, especially those of the 1920s through to almost the mid 1950s. There are, I am informed, still about a quarter of a million such cars on our roads that cannot ‘display the ticket on the dash-board’.


Well, they can now. I have carried out an investigation of just which part of the motor car is in fact the ‘dash-board’. Here, I would like to recruit you into my scheme if you too, have the problem I have with my MG. Note I called the veneered, wooden display set in front of the driver in my MG an ‘instrument panel’. It seems it is NOT a dash-board at all.



When we were trotting about at safe speeds before the internal combustion engine arrived, it was found necessary to put some kind of board across the front of the horse-drawn carriage, wagon, coach, buck, buggy, what ever, to protect the driver from the muck thrown up by the hooves of the power unit. When the first motor cars were designed they too soon had a similar board fitted to dash away the road muck. The ‘dash also kept some of the draught off the passengers as well as being ideal for mounting any instruments upon, in water-proof brass cases. These instruments were so that the driver could monitor his engine, and later even his speed. They were clamped along the top edge of the dash-board. By about 1908 a scuttle was mounted above the dash to fill the gap between it and the windscreen improving weather protection. This meant the windscreen could be moved back a little so protecting the faces of the occupants better. Because this scuttle, or cowling, now obstructed the driver’s view of his instruments, a bit of wood was attached under the windscreen, to the top-rear edge of the scuttle, where the instruments were remounted. This bit of wood was soon varnished to make it weather proof and named the ‘instrument panel’ sometimes also called a ‘facia panel’.


As the motor car developed, the dash-board became hidden under the bonnet at the rear of the engine. It in fact became what today we call the firewall or engine-bulkhead. Its function is still the same, to insulated the passengers from the road muck, weather and engine fumes. So the next time I have a parking ticket to display, I will follow the instruction to ‘display on the dash-board’ to the letter. I will open my gull-wing bonnet, then carefully stick the paper ticket to the rear wall of the engine bay, the ‘dash-board’ on my car. Then I will close the bonnet and await events. I might put this article on display. After all, the instructions do not say ‘display on the instrument panel’, nor do they say ‘display on scuttle or cowl’.


The photo shows the MG instrument panel. As an aside how many of you keep a clothes-peg handy to hold out the choke just the right amount for a fast-idle? Alas, the dial faces of the instrument are not Octagonal at all, just the holes in the wooden facing.


Neil Cairns.