Jebus! Ill try to answer all the questions in the order in which they were received.
randman- yes i was planing on even cutting the front panel down to just the display and using smaller buttons in my own shape
billbost- i will NEVER EVER EVER EVER
trust my car to be controlled by a computer that has even ONE component in it made by Microsoft or a subsidary of. -- I dont even think i would trust linux to do that. I would have to learn code so i could program it myself so i would be fully responsible
Floyd - i will name the components as i remember them in a later post. You will most likely have to adapt what you can find like i did, because it will be cheaper using what you have access to as opposed to copying anyone exactly. Via boards are nice, but they have two draw backs:
1)They require ATX power (+12v, -12v, +5v, -5v, +3.3v...etc) so you either have to a) buy a 12VDC atx power supply or use an inverter to use a standard ATX PS. First option is expensive, second is inefficient but effective.
2)They are fricken power HOGS. The modern processors have been known to require as much as 50 amps
at 5 volts for 1 - 2Ghz range. My single board computer runs fast at 1Ghz (with embedded VIA processor) and draws a measly 4 amps at full power
SSEi95 - It will be controlled via a USB to Parallel port adapter that runs a board of relays.. the appropriate software will be needed to control them. Research "Basic Stamps" and "Basic touch screen" on google and ebay. That device will have the expandability to make a small touch screen into a relay controller, but you have to learn how to program it. Otherwise, if your willing to put out teh $$ there are companies that will build these things for you.
OLDsman105- My car IS indeed OBD 1.5 but its not as weird as most people think. OBD I is the old standard. It is basic serial communication at 160 baud. OBD II is the new standard, it is really fancy and fangled pulse width modulated data tranfer that requires a device to translate it into serial communication. All OBD 1.5 is, is STANDARD SERIAL COMMUNICATION (at TTL levels for you electronics people out there) at 8192 baud. The only thing that is weird is that it is at a very non-standard data rate, but most computers with serial ports can read it (with the appropriate level converter)
Floyd again - See above
95naSTA - as this post is already REALLY long, ill make a second one with pictures of my UGLY temporary setup.