The Citroën GSA’s eccentric dashboard caught many first-time drivers by surprise. It featured a rotating drum in lieu of a traditional speedometer, pods on either side of the steering wheel that were used to control the turn signals, the headlights and the wipers, and a stereotypically 1980s diagram of the car that provided the driver with vital information about what was going on under the hood and elsewhere.
The French automaker took its experiments in wild dashboard designs a step further when it launched the BX Digit in 1985, a limited edition of the mid-size sedan that was reportedly put together to test the public’s reaction to a digital dashboard.
The instrument cluster consisted of three squares mounted side-by-side. The one on the left displayed non-vital information about the car such as what doors were opened, whether or not the headlights were on and an orange warning light that came on when the car was burning its last liters of fuel.
The middle square included a digital speedometer, a digital tachometer and a fuel gauge. On either side of the digital speedometer were two bands that got longer as the speed increased, a gizmo which was uncommonly futuristic in the middle of the 1980s.
The square on the right consisted of warning lights for vitals such as the oil pressure and the coolant temperature as well as Citroën’s signature “STOP” light, which generally indicated that a catastrophic suspension failure was imminent.
The digital dash was easy to read thanks to a monospoke steering wheel that was also found in other BX models. To complement its high-tech instrument cluster, the Digit was equipped with state-of-the-art equipment like power windows front and back, a keyless entry system controlled by an infrared remote and an on-board computer.
Passengers were treated to a Pioneer stereo that was connected to numerous speakers and an equalizer. The finishing touch was a Digit emblem on the ashtray, a part that is very difficult to find today.
Citroën spent most of its resources on the inside and the Digit differed little from the 16 TRS on which it was based when viewed from the outside. It came with tinted windows all around (including the rectangular ones on the c-pillars) and its steel wheels were decorated by plastic hubcaps borrowed from the range-topping GT. Ii was available in a series of discreet metallic colors, including several shades of gray.
The BX Digit was equipped with a carbureted 1.9-liter four-cylinder engine borrowed from the potent 19 GT model. Bolted to a five-speed manual transmission, it made 105 horsepower and 119 lb-ft. of torque, enough to send the car from zero to 62 mph (100 km/h) in about 10 seconds and on to a top speed of 114 mph (185 km/h).
About 4,000 examples of the Digit were built before Citroën pulled the plug on the project. Unlike other limited editions (BX Sport, 2CV Charleston and Méhari Azur, for example), the Digit was not particularly popular and it was not added to the catalog as a regular-production model.
Check back during the week, we will update this article with more photos.