Digital Gauge System - Wicked Cool Needles

Dakota Digital's new VHX analog/digital gauge system

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When building a car, there are a lot of decisions that need to be made--sometimes even before you turn a single nut. Is it going to be a drag, street, or autocross-type build? These are the kind of things you should know before you start. One thing all of these builds will have in common is gauges and the ability to keep track of all the engine and car vitals. While aftermarket gauges have been a staple of the Super Chevy realm, they have evolved leaps and bounds from their initial offerings. Gauges are getting smarter, faster, easier to read and more precise. So now we don't have to decide on one set of gauges to another when there is something available that can do it all.

Once upon a time, Dakota Digital, a well-known name in the gauge game, had only digital offerings. Until now, that is. With the release of the company's VHX line of analog/digital gauge systems, the company now has both, and this new stuff is killer. The idea of the VHX was to create a gauge system that would offer all the parameters the new-school gearhead could want, yet still mount into the stock dash or bezel. The VHX systems are manufactured at the Dakota Digital facility in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

The systems blend needles and digital displays just like a new car. Analog gauges included with this instrument system are a 0-160 mph speedometer, 0-8,000 tachometer, 0-80 psi oil pressure, 140-220–degree F water temp, 0-17 voltmeter, and empty-full fuel level. Even though all these gauges have a dedicated needle, each one can also be viewed in one of the two message center displays and some, like the speedo and tach, can actually read much higher in the message center.

Also shown in the digital message center are the following: odometer, trip odometer, resettable service odometer, clock, hour-meter, 0-60 mph (0-100 kph) timer, quarter-mile timer, quarter-mile speed display, high-speed recall, and high rpm recall. Much like you'd find on a new car, there are a bunch of little lights that magically appear when engaged. The VHX is no different, offering turn signals, high beam, check engine, parking brake, cruise control, 4x4, and wait to start lights.

Another great thing the VHX offers is the ability to be expanded with Bus Interface Modules (BIM) to display a bunch of other things, like boost, fuel pressure, gear indicator, oil temp, trans temp, and many more. The system comes totally complete with all the necessary sensors, wires and adapters for standard and LS engines. The fuel level gauge can read either OEM sensor, or any aftermarket style currently available. The fully programmable speedometer can be adjusted for various tire sizes, rear-end gearing combinations, and so on.

The first design was made for the first-gen Camaros, with the promise of more applications to follow. So when we found out the second-gen Camaro system was available we were excited to say the least. Then when we saw the price of $795.00 and we thought that was kind of expensive. That faded away very quickly when we sat down to find out what our other options might cost.

Using Summit Racing as a guide, we searched for a 5-inch speedo and tach and 2-1/6-inch oil, fuel, volts, and water temp electric gauges. The cheapest matching set of gauges we could find was $434.76 and those are normal black face with old-school flood lighting, plus, you'll still need to figure out how to cleanly mount them. There are molded plastic dash panels available that can be used to integrate aftermarket round gauges into the car. The bezel itself costs $169.95, which you could load with the cheap gauge set into for a total of $604.71. Upgrading from that would be loading the bezel with a better set of gauges, but the best price we found on those was $879.95.

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