Thursday, May 14, 2015

One man in the corner, one man in the hall

I often get ahead of myself while working on a project. I'd like to think that it's just foresight and having a vision for my project, and that's partially true. The problem is, I've got at least 7 complete vehicle projects floating around inside my head on any given day. 

Lately I've been able to concentrate on Grace pretty well, but I've been thinking a lot about the instrument panel. Obviously at this point that's a very low priority, but when a kid makes a car out of a cardboard box, what are the first items he wants? A steering wheel and an instrument panel.

So here's my conundrum:  I don't feel the stock instrument panel will suffice. I have very little faith it will give me the information or the accuracy I want. 

The gauges I need are as follows
-fuel level
-oil pressure
-water temp
-boost gauge

Most guys in this situation will just make a new panel with holes in it for universal gauges. There's nothing wrong with that, but I really don't like the aesthetics of that method. I don't think the instrument panel shape lends itself well to having several round gauges in it. When you take that approach I feel it screams "parts catalog" and I'd like to avoid that. I'm going for a quasi-factory look. 

Common methods of adding gauges to the Falcon instrument panel

I want my instrument panel to look as if in an alternate universe, this could have been factory. This is my quick and dirty photoshop of what that could be.

I tried to find a way to integrate all these into my dash with a congruent design. I think I'll mount a small to medium sized tach on the steering column. At first I wasn't too keen on this idea, but I think it looks period correct to mount a tach on the column so long as the face matches the instrument panel decently well. 
The 100 mph speedo is not sufficient, and I think a 140 mph speedo would add functionality without overdoing it. I could have a new electronic speedometer unit embedded into the panel. The temp gauge on the right would be replaced by a prominent boost gauge. I will probably run about 20# boost, so I think a 30# gauge where the needle points straight up at 20# would be nice. On the left I want a tri gauge as seen on vintage Porsche dashes. This would contain fuel level, water temp and oil pressure. voltage would be monitored by an idiot light.

So the real question is how do I do this? I know that Classic Instruments will do custom panels, but are there any others? I don't know. If you, dear reader, have any ideas please chime in.


  1. I just read through your entire build to date. Nice work. I'm really enjoying your thinking and execution on the custom fabbed stuff. Keep up the good work. I followed a link here from btw...

    1. I'm glad you liked it! I'll be updating in the next couple of days.

  2. Love the slightly off choices for both vehicle and motor! Dig the material presentation, enjoy the parts and ensuing explanations. Good Job.

    As well, Followed the same link from facebook page. so your popularity just went up, by well, 2. might have what you are looking for in regards to clusters and displays.

    1. Thanks Charles! Speedhut does make some really nice gauges, but it didn't look like they did gauge panel retrofits, I may have to call them and find out.

  3. How about a smoked mirror? Then put an LCD and some LEDs connected to a Raspberry PI. Then you could change the layout everyday if you wanted. ;)