My dad hasn't split firewood in about 25 years, but he was still reluctant to give me the old axe. "That axe has been in our family for probably a hundred years," he said. "It was my great grandfather's. He gave it to my grandfather, who gave it to my father, who gave it to me. That ol' axe has split a lot of wood in its life." It looked pretty good for being used to heat several generations of homes through more than 100 winters. When I mentioned this to him, he said, "Well, we've taken pretty good care of it over the years...'course, it's had some repairs along the way. The handle has been replaced five or six times, and that's the third head that's been on it."
And so it goes with our beloved Corvettes. We can "restore a car back to original," but in truth, we're replacing the axe head and handle to one degree or another, especially when using reproduction parts. There's big a difference between buying repro (a new handle or head), and restoring the original stuff (a fresh coat of varnish for the handle, stripping the rust, and putting a fresh edge on the head). Given our druthers, we'll take restored parts originally built to GM specs over knock-off pieces almost every time.
We'd say that aside from brakes, there's nothing more important to your Corvette than the instrumentation. Gauges are there to keep track of all the things that keep your engine alive (rpm, oil pressure, and water temperature), as well as the things that keep you from walking (volts/amps and fuel level).
Gauges have two main components to them: the visual parts, and the mechanical ones. Visuals are the gauge faces themselves, the numbers, the pointers, and the bezels. Aesthetically, they fade, rust, and generally look dingy. Mechanically, components fail; pointers fall off, lubrication dries up, springs and other internal parts break, and sometimes things burn up. The only proper way to restore gauges is to take them apart until they're the same pile of parts Chevy's original supplier started with, and then restore them.
AutoInstruments in Martinsville, Virginia, has done exactly that for more than a decade. The company has developed specific processes for stripping, repairing, refinishing, and assembling Corvette gauges; refinishing the instrument-panel housings; and replating all the plastic chrome interior and exterior pieces. In most instances, AutoInstruments uses the same methods that Chevrolet's original suppliers used.
When your instruments come back, they'll be restored to OE specs and should be good for another 40 years. Because like the hickory handle and high-carbon steel head on that old axe, they just don't make 'em like they used to.