If you have been following Operation Speedboat, you know our '94 Impala can now handle like a modern car, and we even gave it a little more power to be able to keep up with a modern car. However, inside and out, Rob Fisher's Impala still screams 1994. In fact, the instrument cluster in our Impala was so old that it recently just stopped working altogether, leaving Rob guessing at both his current speed and rpm. Besides the obvious broken bits, Rob's dash also suffered from "dummy gauge syndrome." The analog oil pressure gauge would read "perfect" if it had any more than 5 psi, providing no indication of anywhere in between. While comforting for Grandma, this is certainly troubling for any real enthusiast, so we decided it was time for an upgrade. Luckily, Dakota Digital still supports the glorious Impala SS platform, and they happen to build a very nice digital dash unit, which fits perfectly in the stock instrument cluster.
Sporting a Vacuum Fluorescent digital dashboard, the new cluster from Dakota is much more than good looks. Installing it would allow Rob to accurately measure oil pressure and water temp, using a much finer digital readout instead of the old analog OEM gauges. The new dash also features some cool on-board performance readings, including 0-60 times, quarter-mile times and speeds, along with maximum rpm and speed readouts. A built-in shift light could be configured for you manual transmission guys, along with two separate tachometer readouts (bar graph and numbers). With all of the cool features and an upgraded, modern look, we knew we had to have one.
Unfortunately, installing the new instrument cluster proved to be more than a simple plug-and-play swap and was definitely not something we could pull off by ourselves. Dakota Digital did send us instructions, but this is a project for someone who is fairly adept at wiring and feels comfortable tracing more than a couple of wires. Luckily, our friends at EFI Alchemy, located right outside Jacksonville, Florida, were more than willing to help out with this project, even though we may have sprung it on them at the last minute. Follow along as we watch Bret and Chris do their thing, running wires, swapping out sensors, and, in the process, updating our old, worn-out Impala into a modern-age cruiser. In the end, the result was certainly worth the effort, so if you have an older GM, you should really consider an upgrade along these lines.