Burning plastic, short circuits, and a tangled mess of wires are what come to mind if you’ve considered completely rewiring your Chevy. Aftermarket wiring kits claim to make it easier to completely replace your vehicle’s wiring system from headlights to taillights, but the thought of making even one wrong mistake, or a bad connection, is the reason why most won’t even attempt it. Complicate things with the addition of a modern drivetrain, digital gauges, and electrical engine sensors, which were never a part of the original vehicle’s wiring system, and the whole scenario sounds like a custom wiring job might be necessary.
So when it came time to rewire our Project F73 Camaro, we encountered the same concerns many enthusiasts face when they own a vehicle that is equipped with a combination of original parts, and aftermarket components, such as a transmission with a Vehicle Speed Sensor, dual electric fans, high-flow electric fuel pumps, and in our case, a new Auto Meter Digital Street Dash that replaced the factory instrument cluster.
It was obvious an OEM replacement wiring kit wouldn’t work and we didn’t want to rely on old technology either. So while looking into aftermarket kits, we discovered the advantages that an American Autowire Classic Update Series Kit provided. The company’s ’70-73 Camaro Classic Update wiring kit (PN 510034) includes a modern-style fuse panel that updates the system from the old glass fuses, to modern ATO fuses. The fuse panel and bulkhead connector fit exactly into the original location on the Camaro’s firewall, so no modifications are necessary.
But what we really liked about this wiring kit is that it comes complete with everything you need to rewire the entire vehicle. We also liked that each wire is color coded and labeled every few inches, so there’s never any guessing or having to constantly refer to a schematic to see what it’s for and where it goes. The schematics and diagrams that are included with the kit are color coded and use illustrations, making the task of rewiring each section of the vehicle easy to understand. Most importantly, doing it section by section also means you don’t feel like you bit off more than you could chew.
But perhaps the beauty of the American Autowire kit is that it’s designed to be used with aftermarket products such as gauges, heating and air conditioning systems, steering columns, and more. This made it easy for us to adapt our Auto Meter Digital Dash and easily couple it to the various engine sensors and the transmission’s VSS output wiring without any splicing or custom routing. This particular kit also comes with a replacement headlight switch with an internal 30-amp circuit breaker, a new headlight dimmer foot-switch, and original switch connector bodies that really make the entire wiring job more reliable.
Even the engine harness features extra-long leads that allow you to customize the installation to route the wires differently. In our case, it will allow us to easily conceal the wiring, making the engine compartment of our Camaro appear clean and neat. The rear body harness also has the same flexibility for custom routing and includes backup light wires and mating connectors for backup light leads.
With our Camaro still at A&E Motorsports in Santa Fe Springs, California, we asked them to handle the installation. Although they were excited to see how much simpler this kit was to install over an OEM replacement wiring kit, they did make a few recommendations for anyone attempting to install the kit themselves. The first is to make sure you have proper tools, including wire cutters, a splicing tool, and wire crimpers. Because the American Autowire kit comes very well thought out, it’s best to wrap any portions of the harness that won’t be used, and tuck them up under the dash. This way, any upgrade you may want to do later will already be prewired to simply plug in and use. Finally, A&E recommends thinking through how you’re going to route your wiring before trimming any wire. For example, we wanted to hide the engine harness in our Camaro. But because the fenders were off, we decided to leave the extra length of the wires in the harness alone until we mocked up the fenders and could take proper measurements to determine the length of wire we’d need. Finally, A&E recommends reading the instructions on the American Autowire kit, and if there’s something that you don’t understand, you can call the company’s tech line and talk to a representative who can help you through it.
With our Camaro nearly complete, we’re anxious to get the fender and hood back on and fire it up. Nevertheless, we can be assured that there won’t be any electrical bugs to cause us any grief, since all the wiring, bulbs, sockets, and connectors are completely new. The only thing left, is to drop in a battery.