Goodmark Chevelle Project Car- Part 9

Installing Modern Electronics And Retaining A Factory Feel

Jason Walker Jun 26, 2002 0 Comment(s)

Updating any part of a classic car, while retaining the integrity of its nostalgic feel and appearance, can be difficult. Utilizing a high-tech digital readout in the past meant finding a complete late-model dash from a donor car that could be modified to fit in whatever you were building--not an uncommon exercise for many aspects of building a street machine. The biggest downside to that was the need to completely change almost the entire dashboard to accept a new design. So what if you like the original dash?

Luckily, we can now install a digital readout in many applications, including our project Chevelle, with Dakota Digital's new Series Two Control Box System. The digital gauge system used on the Goodmark car is actually a one-off kit made for the Malibu gauge cluster. Dakota builds the Series Two System for the Super Sport gauge cluster only. With the Super Sport dashes being either non-existent or far too pricey for reality, this problem was quickly resolved with a phone call to Dakota Digital to see if they could build a special kit just for us. The results speak for themselves every time the ignition is twisted and the dash lights up with all the necessary readouts.

Another dilemma in the quest for technology's fitting into a stock location is the sound system. Many advances in the car audio world have been made in the last 10 years and should be utilized in any cruiser today. After all, good sounds are a very important part of cruising down the road. Short of cutting a large, rectangular slot into your dash or building a mount for today's normal DIN-size car stereo under the dash, where do you turn? One way is to contact Custom Autosound, who specializes in putting modern stereo components into a stereo frame built to bolt into the factory radio position. In fact, these units are fully compatible with Kenwood's 6- or 10-CD changers and feature 60 watts of power, separate bass and treble controls, RCA pre-outs, a black or chrome face, and almost every other modern car radio feature necessary.

With the stereo and gauges installed, you'll also see how well the Factory Fit wire loom fits and is adapted to work with all this new technology. Remember, we are attempting to install modern electronics that fit into the factory position, so hopefully the wiring will fit without too many alterations.

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Dakota Digital built this one-off gauge kit to fit the Malibu cluster, as opposed to the more popular Super Sport gauge kit which is available for the '70-72 Chevelle.

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Some assembly is required as seen here with the nuts and bolts being installed into the instrumentation, securing it to the mounting box supplied with the kit

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Once gauges are mounted in place, the clear lens can be glued in with RTV.

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Here we can see the lens being set into place. Now the complete unit can be bolted into the dash.

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The gauge box bolts right into the factory position. The white strip hanging out the backside is the main wire loom for all the gauges and indicator lights.

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At this point installing the switches will be the last step before mounting the interior wire loom to the back of the dash. It's also the next logical step.

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Believe us, mounting the main loom before the dash is in the car will save the golf-ball sized knots from forming around the back of your neck, for sure.

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Hooking up the loom is a snap with factory plugs throughout. Some wire will be rerouted to the Dakota Digital control box.

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Here is what we mean by rerouting some of the wires: The wires coming from the engine compartment that serve gauges with information (sending units, if you will) were rerouted directly to the control box.

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The control box has every connection displayed in the proper location for a relatively easy installation. A screwdriver is all that is necessary to connect the wires to their appropriate terminals.

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Since the dash-mounted speaker is no longer going to be used, this spot was chosen to mount the control box.

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The last item to be installed is the radio.

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Stereo installation has never been easier than this. Once the dash is mounted, the stereo will receive a rear mount to support its weight.

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Custom Autosound builds their radios just like the originals, knobs and all. The face of the dash was given a fresh coat of S.E.M's Landau Black to match the original color almost perfectly. This, of course, was performed before any instrumentation was installed.

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Not bad? The new radio looks right at home and has all the options of a modern stereo with CD-changer control at your fingertips.

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