Completely rewiring a car can be a complex task. Get it wrong and you can damage electronics or even worse, set the car on fire (and nobody wants that). Even though most of us are not electrical experts, the good thing is we don't have to be. Thanks to American Autowire (AA) all the confusing things are taken care of for you. Using years of experience, the company will determine the correct wire gauge, length, and color-coding for your car. So if you are comfortable reading a schematic and have some common sense, you can rewire your ride.
The first thing you need to consider is how much do you want to pay versus how much work do you want to do. The more work you are willing to take on the less money you will need to pay. American Autowire has many options to wire the same vehicle. Take, for instance, Jim Hurley's '55 Bel Air, which we will be wiring in this story. The company has five wiring kits for this car, from universal to factory replacement and three more kits in between.
Michael Manning, president of American Autowire, explains the different kits his company offers. "If your project is totally custom, a more generic kit such as the Highways Series, Builder series, or Power Plus series kit is in order. The decision here centers on the number of power circuits required and the type of kit design (modular or integrated fuse box kit)," he explains. "Modular kits are represented in our Highway series. They are easier to install because none of the wires are pre-connected to the fuse panel and all power circuits are wired from the outside into the fuse panel, i.e., you place the fuse box and wire everything into it.
"Integrated fuse panel kits are represented by our Power Plus and Builder Series kits. These fuse panels are designed to mount under the dash. All connections are done from the fuse box out requiring termination of each wire at the final connection point. These systems are less flexible in the panel mounting location and do present more routing issues than a modular system. The Classic Update Series kits combine aspects of a generic kit, with those of a vehicle-specific kit. Classic Update kits provide as much plug and play capability as possible, while accommodating the increased circuitry and free routing requirements of a street rod kit design. These kits are designed around a specific group of vehicles. Original switches, heater controls, tail lights, parking lights, factory gauges, and dash design are incorporated into the design of these kits."
Finally, if a true plug-and-play system is required, or the need exists to restore your vehicle to original specifications, the Factory Fit line of harnesses will be your solution.
For this '55, we decided to go with the Power Plus 20 wiring kit. It offers all the circuits we could need, with a few extra. It is budget friendly at $299.00, and it features an updated-style fuse block, while still allowing for some freedom in installation.
Since AA provides a great set of schematics with the wiring kit, we won't go into too much detail on every connection. Instead, we will follow our professional wiring guy Raymond "Lucky" Costa from Mobile Tech doing the job and pass along as many tips on routing and protection as possible.