With clas­sic aes­thet­ics and mod­ern dig­i­tal work­ings, this new cen­tre speedo from Smiths is a fan­tas­tic up­grade.

Mini Magazine - - Mini Tech -

We can never help but get drawn in by the cool gad­gets and flash­ing lights of the dig­i­tal dash dis­plays and in­stru­ments at the shows. They can look per­fect in a mod­i­fied car, and can be es­pe­cially handy if you’re build­ing a non-ASeries Mini and need a higher rev range or more warning lamps. For a more orig­i­nal car, it’s tough to beat a Smiths cen­tre clock speedo though, as fit­ted from ’59 right through to the mid-‘80s on cer­tain mod­els. Not only do they suit the Mini’s ba­sic aes­thet­ics, they also in­clude an in­te­gral fuel gauge and all the es­sen­tial dash warning lights. It truly keeps things sim­ple.

Caer­bont Au­to­mo­tive In­stru­ments, the man­u­fac­turer of Smiths in­stru­ments, has re­cently launched a new dig­i­tal ver­sion of the clas­sic cen­tre clock, and it’s some­thing we were very ex­cited to get our hands on. This up­dated speedo is out­wardly very sim­i­lar, which is ideal, but in­ter­nally it’s far more ad­vanced. Turn the unit over and in­stead of bulb hold­ers, a volt­age reg­u­la­tor and a speedo ca­ble drive in­put from the in­dus­trial revo­lu­tion, there’s one sim­ple plug con­nec­tor on a bil­let alu­minium cas­ing. Per­fec­tion­ists will most def­i­nitely ap­prove, be­cause the rear is usu­ally vis­i­ble from un­der the bon­net, of­ten with a mass of un­tidy wiring and plas­tic cowl­ing. There’s also in­ter­nal LED light­ing, a dig­i­tal milome­ter and a choice of black or mag­no­lia faces in ei­ther 90mph and 130mph de­signs.

But away from the aes­thet­ics, the main ad­van­tage is that you can ditch the me­chan­i­cal speedo ca­ble and run a dig­i­tal speed sender in­stead, there­fore you can also re­po­si­tion the unit more eas­ily. Dig­i­tal Speedos of­fers three dif­fer­ent op­tions for a Mini speed sen­sor – a speedo drive dig­i­tal adapter (£29.95), a mag­netic type for drive­shaft mount­ing (£24.95), and a GPS re­cep­tor (£69.95).

The Mini-spe­cific dig­i­tal adapter is the clos­est to a di­rect re­place­ment, although ac­cess is in­cred­i­bly tricky, as you’ll prob­a­bly know if you’ve ever had to fit a new speedo ca­ble. The mag­netic sen­sor may take a bit of mount­ing in­ge­nu­ity, whereas the GPS sen­sor is the sim­plest so­lu­tion of all. With the GPS op­tion the read­ing is ir­rel­e­vant of wheel speed, func­tion­ing like a sat nav, al­beit much faster at 10Hz verses 1Hz. Of course the sig­nal will cut out in longer tun­nels, which could be an is­sue on Euro road trips. It is road le­gal and will pass an MoT but not an IVA test. Ul­ti­mately the best choice de­pends on your DIY skills/pa­tience and car us­age.

A re­place­ment 130mph speedo costs around £175 new and 90mph op­tions are only avail­able sec­ond hand. This unit is £349.95 from Dig­i­tal Speedos and other Mini spe­cial­ists, plus the cost of the speed sen­sor. It’s just over twice the price, for the huge leap for­ward in both func­tion­al­ity and de­sign, so these are sure to be very pop­u­lar. Here’s how it fits…

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