Sure our cars run on gas and their engines make way more horsepower than any little electric motor could, but how about using electricity to monitor their performance? Traditionally, hot rodders have avoided electric gauges, opting instead for the clumsy and sometimes cumbersome mechanical variety. Even though practically every major automaker in the world relies exclusively on electric gauges, hot rodders think they need a mechanical eye. Sure championship racecars may use mechanical gauges, but they have the room and usually don't need to route bulky connectors through stock firewalls. We're here to allay your fears of the electric world and show you how to get your car wired for performance.
The advantages of using electric gauges come from their smaller design and the lack of a need to bore big holes in your car's firewall for mechanical connections. Another advantage to electric gauges is that there's never a chance of a gauge leak ruining your car's interior or injuring someone. Besides, mounting the electric senders and routing the wires back to the gauges is typically a no-brainer, with only one connection usually needed at each point.
We squeezed six electric Auto Meter Phantom gauges into the factory console of our '70 Camaro project. A 160-mph 5-inch electric speedometer and a 5-inch tach are the big gauges, and we even fabbed a bracket to mount the new LED shift light in the cigarette lighter's old hole. The 2 1/16-inch engine monitors we chose are a standard 0-100-psi oil pressure gauge and a 100-250-degree water temp gauge. The other two gauges we installed addressed the fuel system. Since this car will see plenty of street cruising, we used Auto Meter's 0-90-ohm fuel level gauge that works with the stock GM sender. We also added Auto Meter's trick new 0-100-psi fuel pressure gauge with a Telltale box that records high- and low-fuel-pressure readings. If you're not fuel injected, you could substitute Auto Meter's new Air/Fuel ratio monitor instead. We've heard great things about its ability to help dial in the jetting on a carbureted motor.
To make this installation go as smoothly as possible we wired all the new gauges together using a Painless Performance wiring harness made specifically for this type of aftermarket gauge application. Getting the gauges to physically fit in the console was actually the hardest part of the job, but now we've got a clean and clear way to safely monitor our engine's vital signs.
Each of the six factory gauge holes had to be enlarged to fit the Auto Meter Phantom gauges. In this photo you can see the difference between the stock and modified hole size for both the speedo and fuel level gauges.
Three of the electric gauges we could have installed have no mechanical counterparts and need some extra components. The 0-100-psi Telltale fuel pressure gauge comes with a wiring panel (center) that gives you the ability to recall high and low readings. The LED shift light uses a remote rpm switch (left) that connects to the ignition system. If you install the air/fuel ratio meter. You'd have to weld a bung into your exhaust collector and install Auto Meter's included O2 sensor for readings.