Atari Night Driver Cockpit Restoration

Night driver cockpit

Hey all, my name is Mitch, and I have been collecting and restoring coin operated equipment (particularly video arcade games) since the late 1980s.  I’m pretty serious about my collecting, and at one time the hoard grew to about 150 machines.  I’ve done some curating since then, and am now down to roughly 60 machines – including some weird, wonderful, extraordinary pieces that represent an era when video gaming was truly new. 

Over the years the online community of collectors has grown, and there is a plethora of information out there on just about every machine – manuals, roms, photos, forums, and so on.  I’m sure I’m like many of you when I say that I have benefited from all of this knowledge sharing, and also like many of you I’ve contributed a few things here and there to the general hive-mind. 

I’ve got some odd-duck and fun pieces, though, and not all of them are well documented online.  One of these is a special cockpit version of Atari’s Night Driver that was released to arcades in 1976.  Though identical in gameplay to the upright version and sharing much of the hardware, there’s precious little to find about the cockpit.  For instance, you won’t find a cockpit manual, only one for the upright. Thus, given I am/was in the process of restoring my machine, I thought it would be worthwhile to document the activity and share what I can in case others come across another of these awesome machines. 

For background, I picked up my ND cockpit back in the mid-90s at a barn in Kentucky, enroute back to Michigan from a Knoxville game auction.  The game in the rafters of a barn, and the two pals I was with helped me get it down and load onto our very full trailer.  That game traveled back with me and sat in various storage locations, moving it around over almost 30 years without having touched it. 

I hope you enjoy this blog, and if you find any errors or want to share any other information or hints, please let me know!  -Mitch

An Ugly Baby