When I ordered my car, I was just getting into this whole MINI thing… and I just DID NOT GET the big center speedo… I understood the coolness factor of it, but it just didn’t seem very practical… I can’t believe I used the word “practical” in a sentence about a MINI… I don’t think that way anymore… they ARE practical, but I’ve mutated so far beyond practicality that it seems ludicrous that I once thought this way…
Anyway, I didn’t want the integrated navigation system, because I think those things become outdated REALLY fast. Yeah, I know you can update the maps, and maybe the software, but that’s not what I’m talking about. Nav systems are evolving so rapidly, with completely new features being added all the time (traffic, internet connectivity, real-time local information, phone interfaces, track recording for Google Earth playback, etc.). So I’d rather have a portable nav unit that I can replace every few years – I plan to keep this car a LOT longer than that…
So, I didn’t like the center speedo (I’ve since had a change of heart and LOVE them), and I didn’t want nav… so that left the Cockpit Chrono Pack.
I liked the ability to have more useful gauges – including oil temp and pressure. And I liked getting my speedo on the steering column along with the tach, where I thought it belonged. All was well. Until I decided how much I HATED the OEM gauge faces.
These things are SOOOO busy… all the black spots where the indicator lights are, all the extra numbers on the speedo (I don’t CARE how many KPH I’m going… usually I don’t care how many mph I’m going, but that’s another problem…). Unfortunately, it took a while before aftermarket faces were available for the column-mounted speedo, since those are much less common than the large center speedo. But, eventually, I was delighted to get the first pair of OutMotoring faces!
Only one problem… Now these beautiful faces made the Cockpit Chrono Pack look like crap.
It’s too silver… and it’s got the same ugly zits where the indicator lights are… problem is, the face of this thing is a complex molded 3D part, and they’re not extremely common, so the odds of having an aftermarket solution seemed pretty low.
Well, flash forward to early 2008. Lyle Beckwith – “Lyle’s Vinyl Styles” – starts doing some alternative “overlays” for MINI gauges. I also admired a lot of the high quality vinyl “wrap” work he is doing with emblems, door handles, headlight rings, etc. Then it hits me… I wonder if he could WRAP part of the Chrono face… so I send him some pics, we discuss it, I ship him my face, he does some experimentation, and a couple weeks later, VOILA!
This is fantastic – it’s exactly what I think the face should have looked like from the factory. The outer flat parts are wrapped in satin black vinyl, with holes plotter-cut for the indicator lights – which blend in so well you don’t even notice them. The satin black color matches the surround of that area of the dash, as well as the hazard and panel light buttons – it works VERY well visually. And it’s a MUCH better match for my OutMotoring gauges.
I’m working another option in parallel – Aaron is having a flat face worked up to match the other gauges exactly. From my experimentation with the Chrono Pack, I’m pretty confident that we can make a flat face work – the gauge needle shafts seem long enough to mount the needles higher, and I think lighting will actually work out OK. But we’re going to test it and find out. I ran a flat paper mockup face for the couple of weeks that Lyle had my real face, and that worked fine, so I’m optimistic that Aaron will be able to come up with another alternative for us Cockpit Chrono Pack owners… stay tuned…
By the way – the Chrono Pack disassembles pretty much just like the center speedo – instructions for that are here.