It is an undisputed fact that the popularity of the '55-57 Shoebox will never die. Even within our publication there have been many articles on just about every aspect of restoration and modification of these vehicles. While there are countless engine, drivetrain, and suspension options available, there has not been much attention paid to the update of the entire electrical system. Unfortunately, all the performance mods in the world won't make any difference when the tired old wiring in your car can't handle the power requirements of all the electrical accessories so popular on these vehicles.
Original replacement wiring harnesses for '55-57 Chevys have been available for many years. While they are excellent products that are true to original engineering specifications, they leave something to be desired in circuit protection and expandability to custom accessories and performance products requiring connection to the fuse panel. Original wiring harness specifications in the '55-57 vehicles were really very basic. There were no electrical options to speak of and those that were available from the factory, such as power windows and power seats, appeared on very few production cars. Take a look at an original fuse panel in any '55-57 vehicle and you will begin to see the problem.
The panel is small with minimum fuse protection. In many cases, age has been unkind to the panel and the original glass fuse clips are rusted to the point that continuity is lacking. Add to this the fact that there is no room for expansion. Besides, even if there was room, the major power feed wires to the fuse panel are too small in gauge to handle the additional power requirements demanded by modified vehicles. The bottom line is that the electrical system design needs a major overhaul.
We contacted American Autowire/Factory-Fit when we heard about their new Classic Update Series wiring kits designed specifically for '55-57 cars. We were familiar with their Factory-Fit product line of reproduction wiring harnesses and wanted to see what this new kit had in store for us.
After close examination, we realized that this was not a generic rewire kit. It is a well thought out kit that includes everything you need to rewire your entire car. Important pieces such as taillight connectors and parking light sockets are included along with their respective weather tight tube and grommet assemblies. However, the best thing about this kit is that knowledge gained in years of producing replacement harnesses is reflected in the design of these kits. The mounting of the fuse box and routing of the wire under the dash has been thought out to be a bolt in exercise that uses existing production routing wherever possible. On the other hand, under hood wiring is completely flexible to allow custom wiring routing (hiding) for a clean look.