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How many C172 models there are out there and what are the differences between them?

Which models have these "modern" (newer) instruments panel design like this one: enter image description here

versus:

enter image description here

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    $\begingroup$ I'm not sure what you're asking here. Even two C172s from the same model year can have completely different panels depending on what the buyer ordered, or later owners upgraded. And FWIW, the panel in your picture doesn't look very modern to me; I don't see any GPS-based navigation or 'glass' instruments. C172s have had the Garmin G1000 available since 2006 or so. Perhaps you can be more specific about what information you're looking for? $\endgroup$ – Pondlife Aug 4 '19 at 21:22
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    $\begingroup$ @Pondlife That looks like a C172R/S, which originally came standard with a KLN89 GPS, as in the picture just below the audio panel. The metal panel itself, more than the instruments and avionics, was "modern" in an aesthetic sense vs earlier models. $\endgroup$ – StephenS Aug 4 '19 at 22:20
  • $\begingroup$ @StephenS Good catch! Whether or not a KLN89 is "modern" or not is still debatable, I guess :-) $\endgroup$ – Pondlife Aug 6 '19 at 2:21
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If you are asking “When did the Cessna 172s adopt the modern 6-pack layout, the answer is 1968. You can verify this by looking at for sale pictures. All of the 1968 panels have the normal 6-pack layout while very few of the 1967 do. The revised layout in the 1967s is obviously not from the factory. They aren’t completely lined up like in your picture for a few more years. If you care to know when, browse through some for sale listings.

Cessna 172 - 1967

Cessna 172 - 1967

Cessna 172 - 1968

Cessna 172 - 1968

Also,I have a copy of the 1967 Owner’s manual and it shows the old layout like in the first picture.

Cessna 172 - 1967 Owner’s Manual panel

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Those aren't new panels. The latest are like this.

I think the other answers are already heading towards "When did 6-pack for IFR and Radios/GPS/etc end up the center stack?" Things like Intercom, Nav/Com, ADF, LORAN, transponder, GPS with 2-line display, then GPS controlling external radio (Northstar, nice radio too), then GPS/Moving Map, then GPS/NavCom/moving map, then Flight Management System (latest Avidyne units, perhaps the Garmins too, showing more & more stuff - ADS-B In, fuel info, approach charts, selectable data on nav charts, synthetic vision, other engine instruments), transponders with ADS-B Out and Out/In feeding the FMS for display, Standalone autopilot, autopilot coupled to ILS, coupled to GPS, coupled to fly approaches, etc. It just goes on and on. enter image description here

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The first picture appears to be of an R or S model, produced since 1996. The second appears to be a M, N or P model, produced from 1973 to 1986.

The two panels in your picture are nearly identical; they have all the same instruments and controls in the same locations. The avionics varied slightly due to what was current at the time, but that doesn't seem to be what you're asking about.

The most obvious difference between the two is the material and color of the panel itself: the R/S models use gray metal, whereas the older ones used black Bakelite (plastic). This is an aesthetic difference, not a functional one, and has no practidal effect other than a minor difference in weight. Older planes can be (and often are) easily upgraded to metal panels to get the more modern look.

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