Let's face it, no matter what make or model, early style dashboards contain a certain "cool factor." Back in the '30s, '40s
and '50s there was just as much steel contained in the dashboard as there is in an entire late-model vehicle (at least it seems that way). Not too long ago I was sitting in an all-original '39 Chevy with suicide doors. As I sat there I began to think, "If this car could talk, I'm sure it could tell a story or two." Who knows, maybe it was once driven by the "wiseguys"--you know, brimmed hats, pinstriped suits, and Tommy guns (OK, I'm getting a little carried away now, but you get the idea). Anytime I stare into an old dash it brings me back in time.
Our first order of business was to remove the carpeting from the area above the transmissi
Fast-forward 10 or 20 years to when plastics were introduced into the equation. While they looked good when new, plastics were prone to fading and cracking over time. Thanks to the strength and popularity of vehicle restoration, the aftermarket has provided us with replacement parts to repair our faded, worn and cracked dashboard and instrument cluster components.
For this particular installation we hunted down the final pieces of the puzzle in order to complete the cockpit of this '72 Malibu to Chevelle SS conversion. While much of the conversion was performed to re-create the period-correct "SS" style, portions were done in retro rod style.
After much debate it was decided that we would use Dakota Digital's '70-72 Chevelle SS digital gauge cluster. For over 20 years Dakota Digital (located on the outskirts of Sioux Falls, South Dakota) has manufactured high-quality digital instrumentation and specialty electronics for cars, trucks, motorcycles and other custom applications. Dakota Digital vows that you will receive the best products, service and support, even beyond the sale.
The Dakota Digital Super Sport gauges are a bolt-in package, which provides parameters such as speed, tachometer, voltage, oil pressure, water temperature, and fuel level, all in the existing SS locations.
Next we were required to bolt the shifter cable bracket to the transmission linkage (these
Additional attributes include high-speed recall, high-rpm recall, quarter-mile timer, quarter-mile speed, turn signals, high-beam indicator, check engine light, parking brake indicator, and cruise control (when properly equipped with these options).
In order to begin the conversion we needed to order the Dakota Digital instrumentation, floor console/shifter kit, and SS style dash components. We proceeded by calling upon Original Parts Group in Huntington Beach, CA. Ordering the necessary components were a snap with the aid of the knowledgeable staff at OPG. By explaining our goals for this conversion, the staff at OPG was able to put together a complete list of necessary components along with expedited shipping services. OPG has been voted ARMO's (Automotive Restoration Market Organization) "Dealer of the Year" at the prestigious SEMA show. This award is given in recognition of outstanding service and dedication to excellence in the restoration parts business.
Once all the parts were received we quickly laid them out on the floor in a mock-type fashion in order to be sure nothing was missing. Once all was accounted for, the battery was disconnected for safety reasons (as it should be before beginning any project), and our quest towards "SS" stardom had begun.
Included in the kit are the signal generator for the speedometer, coolant temperature sens
Once all of the units are secured, wiring can be neatly run up into the firewall through a
This was a breeze considering that this "A" body contained an aftermarket ignition system.
Our next mission was to remove the dash pad from the Malibu. In order to do so, we removed
Once all proper screws were removed, the dash pad pulled out with ease.
The '70-72 Malibu/Chevelle gauge cluster and bezel are part of the lower dash assembly, th
The dash is fastened at many locations, including: the upper left, right and middle, under
Previous removal of the dash pad gave us the access needed to remove the upper fasteners.
In order to access the lower dashboard mounting points, the steering column is lowered by
Once all of the mounting fasteners have been removed from dashboard, we carefully laid it
Now that the dash assembly was out of the car it was time to install the new digital instr
Back in the vehicle it was time to choose a location for the control unit (brain) to be in
After finishing up with the connections it was time to begin reassembly of the dashboard.
Once the dashboard was properly aligned with the firewall and tightened, we installed the
After a final visual inspection the battery was reconnected, the ignition key turned forwa
OPG Parts List
S6872M complete console kit with shifter
CH23644 '70-72 dash housing
CH22081 '70-72 glovebox door
GL10950 glovebox lamp kit
CH22080 '70-72 SS dash ashtray
CH26992 '71-72 cig lighter housing
CH26530 '71-72 cig lighter
PZ00003 glovebox lock casing
KK26038 '70-77 original glovebox lock
CHV4576 '70-72 "SS" steering column cover
CH24950 '68-72 GM floor shift cable
KM02017 trans cable bracket
KK26070 '70-72 original style console lock
11925 '68-72 console harness w/ automatic
KM02040 neutral safety switch
CH26487 '70-72 Chevelle/El Camino digital SS gauge cluster & housing
Original Parts Group Inc.