No matter what type of Chevrolet you are building, if you've spent any of your hard-earned cash on the engine, you'll want to keep track of its vitals. A drop-in oil pressure or hot runner can lead to overheating, blown head gaskets, or worse. And it goes without saying that you'll want accurate info on engine rpm and mph as you cruise or rip it up at the track. With that, a quality set of gauges is a must. In addition to providing real-time data on essentials, a hot set of gauges can bump up the style of your interior.
When we set out to rebuild Project Back To The Street, a former drag car turned road carver, we wanted improved power and performance, but to maintain a stockish look throughout. Well, as the Camaro has progressed, we've gone further from stock than we imagined. The original buckets gave way to stylish Corbeau chairs, and now our stock cluster and gauge fascia have been traded for a modern-looking unit from Classic Thunder Road. Best of all, we didn't break the bank.
There is an endless list of aftermarket gauges and dash inserts for old Chevys, and choosing the right stuff for your ride can be overwhelming. Do you go classic or modern? Do you try to maintain a stock look or do something wild? Do you add extra gauges or keep it to a bare minimum? We went with this modern set, including a 33/8-inch 10,000-rpm tach and same-sized 160-mph speedo, plus 21/16-inch fuel level, volt meter, oil pressure, and water temp gauges. We also added the sleek carbon-look, direct-replacement cluster, which retails for just $599.95. We also added the optional wiring harness, which cuts a major amount of time and difficulty from the install.
Note: If you plan to wire the unit yourself, always use 20 AWG stranded or heavier wire, and be sure to keep your wiring clean and away from moving parts. And we always recommend using fuses.
In many cases, you'll select a package that complements your build style. In the case of second-gen Camaros, it's tough to stray far from stock due to the design of the dash, as most people stuff aftermarket gauges in the stock cluster. We like a clean look, so for this build, the gauges had to be kept in a stock-style gauge pod.
As you can see, we also installed an earlier-model Chevy wheel. Unfortunately, it's out of place, so it will be traded for a modern wheel designed to work with the PCS paddle-shifts we plan to install. While we love the '69 wood-rim wheel, it's just too big for the interior of our '71 Camaro. We expect a modern wheel will look at home with the Classic Thunder Road gauge package.
While stock can be good, there are many advantages to going aftermarket. For starters, they introduce a fresh look to your dash. Second, they are likely to work better since they use modern internals. And third, they utilize all new wiring with nice plug-in connectors.
Now, take a look at our install and hopefully you'll be inspired to hop up the interior of your classic Chevy.