Ford Tooling Dash Pad Fits Right the First Time
It’s rare that I find a part that fits correctly the first time, but such is the case with the dash pad. Of course, that it’s made from original Ford tooling makes a difference.
The dash pad fit perfectly, and it was perhaps the easiest install of anything I’ve done on the car. I slid the pad into position, lined up the dash holes and the studs on the pad itself, and pushed it into place. A few twists of the included nuts, and I had it installed.
From that point, all I had to do was find the holes for the speaker and the windshield trim with a pick. The most difficult part of the installation was actually with the windshield trim, which I had repainted months ago in the matching dark blue. Even though I stripped and cleaned the trim before I painted, my prep work must not have been great. I scraped the paint off of the left piece as I was installing it.
Luckily it’s a lacquer-based paint, so a little feather sanding and few swipes with the rattle can fixed it…or so I thought until I did it again. The third time I stripped the piece completely instead of spot retouching, scrubbed with lacquer thinner, and wore gloves to avoid any contamination. Careful prep worked paid off. After painting the trim for the third time, I installed it without a hitch.
Additional Dash Pad Installation Tidbits
I actually prefer the 1965-style dash pad over the 1966 version. The smooth curves of the signature coves on the ’65 pads look better than the sharp, angular ones of the ’66 pad. My plan was to order a ’65 pad with the interior kit. However, the blue in ’66 was apparently a darker color than the ’65 blue, so I scrapped that idea. And in a way, I’m glad I did. The new, correct dark blue ’66 pad looks great in the car now that I’ve got it installed.
Beyond the color difference, ’65 dash pads install differently than the ’66 pads. In 1965 Ford used a piece of bright trim above the gauges and glove box. There isn’t any such trim on the later cars, although the ’66 pad appears to have the hole locations pre-stamped. Also in 1965 the bottom left and right edges used a piece of bright trim absent on ’66 cars. That would require some cutting and shaping to get the ’65 pad not to look unfinished.
The factory-style replacement speaker from Scott Drake is a drop-in install. With the windshield in the car, I can imagine that an aftermarket speaker with a bigger magnet would be a tight fit. There’s only so much room to tilt the speaker into the opening, so the total depth makes a difference.
Along with the dash pad, you’ll want to install new defroster ducts. The originals were cardboard and usually are well beyond saving. The new ducts are a much more robust plastic. If you can, I’d recommend saving your original v-clips, though. The new plastic ducts come with clips, but they’re stiffer than the originals and therefore much harder to install.
A Few Words on Trim Paint
Lastly, I’ll say a few words on the trim paint. The interior lacquer paint NPD sells is fantastic. It sprays easily, comes out smoothly, and is an exact match for the dash pad. This stuff is impressive because it goes on evenly in light to medium coats, whereas some other interior paints I’ve bought run almost immediately even with the lightest of coats.
The white paint I bought from CJ Pony parts was terrible about that. The color match was spot-on, but it took a lot of patience to spray the 12 super light coats necessary to get full coverage and hiding without runs. Not so with the NPD paint. Three coats was all it took to get a great result every time.
My only issue is that the paint chipped and scratched more easily than I’d like. It’s lacquer-based, so it may not have the resilience or durability I’ve come to expect from modern paint. Luckily the trim is easy enough to remove that if I end up having to repaint it in five or ten years, it won’t be an issue. I might actually consider using the SEM paint, which NPD also sells for a little more money, were I to do this over again. It may be even better than the lacquer stuff.