Instrument Cluster Restoration / Replacement
Sunday I finished up installing and running the air conditioning wiring, loomed up the pressure switch wire, cleaned up under the dash, and tidied up the engine compartment. Then I set into the instrument cluster restoration as planned, although I didn’t finish until Monday. In the end it’s hard to call what I did restoration because I replaced so many parts. The lens, the outer case/bezel, and all the gauges got the boot. But even though I wasn’t able to or chose not to restore what I had, I put the instrument cluster back to the way it was originally.
As a hobby, I think we drastically overuse the word “restoration.” We use it to describe anything from a repaint to new changes. It seems the word is rarely used to describe the literal definition of the word restore, which would be, “to bring back to an original condition.” Chopping, channeling, and metal-flaking a ’32 Ford with a small block Chevy engine is not restoration.
That’s not to say you couldn’t restore a hot rod back to the way it was in-period, or that there’s anything wrong with hot rodding except for brand mixing (Fords need FoMoCo motors, please). But it drives me nuts to see people advertise so-called freshly restored cars which are, in fact, almost never how they came from the factory. The term resto-mod more aptly describes what lots of people do to their cars. As long as they’re honest about it, I’m cool with it.
The Disgustang is a Resto-Mod
I’m doing as much restoration as I can, but I’m also trying to make tasteful upgrades. In the end the car will look mostly stock, but instead of the four speed Ford offered in ’66, it’ll have the 5-speed Ford offered in later Mustangs. It’ll have power front disc brakes (not offered in ’66). The engine is a 302, although it’s visually identical to the 289 the car had originally. The list goes on.
Balance those mods with the fact that I had the car repainted the same shade of blue it has worn since day 1, the interior will be done to stock specs, all the chassis components are period-correct, even the hardware I’ve used is identical to what Ford used originally (thanks to AMK’s fine offerings). If somebody ever wanted to turn this into an authentic restoration or a show car, they could. None of my mods are irreversible, I haven’t thrown anything away. Perhaps that should be the goal we all strive for: don’t do something irreversible.
Getting back to the instrument cluster restoration, I kept all the original gauges. I even tested them before I pulled them off, so I know they’re still good. I’ve kept the lens and the front housing bezel, even though the front bezel is totally trashed and is missing some brittle plastic pieces that fell off. So many things are possible now that were before only the talk of science fiction writers, perhaps one day there will be a way to save the bezel. But until that day, I’ll stick to my shiny new cluster!