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I’m a huge fan of modern reproductions of vintage factory high performance hardware and bolt on speed shop goodies. In the past few years there’s been plenty to cheer about. From Rick Allison’s A&A Products Max Wedge and Race Hemi cross ram intake manifolds to Vintage Engineering’s “Cecil County” 15x4” wheel, a repop of the classic American Racing Torq-Thrust magnesium 5-spoke. These and many other “missing links” have been once again made available to retro purists who won’t settle for buzz-killing modern stuff.
But one area that’s been a challenge has been finding a proper tachometer that doesn’t look out of place inside a retro-themed Mopar drag or street machine. That is, until now. Thanks to Sunpro, two classic vintage-style tachometers are back in production and ready for installation right now. Best of all, priced well below $150 each, they’re quite affordable. The Sunpro Retro Line Super Tach (PN SST-802R) measures 3-3/8 in diameter and has a 250-degree sweep face. It’s typical of what guys were adding to their cars in the Seventies. I like it but there’s a better option for dudes with even earlier tastes.
That would be the Sunpro Retro Line 90-Degree Tachometer (PN FZ88R). Also a 3-3/8-inch unit, it’s a dead ringer for the chrome-cup style tachs found in virtually every Mopar Max Wedge and Race Hemi Stock, Super Stock and FX drag car between 1962 and 1965. The best feature is the 90-degree sweep of the needle and partially covered chrome gauge face. I will be the first to agree that – when compared to more modern 250-degree sweep tachometers - the 90-degree tach face has one main draw back. The engine rpm markings are split on a curved line with odd numbers (10, 30, 50 and 70) above the line and even numbers (0,20,40,60,80) below the line. This makes rapid identification of exact engine speed a bit more complex, but if Ronnie Sox and Dick Landy lived with it, so can I.
To see just how good the new Sunpro retro tach is, I recently installed one in my altered wheelbase “Rampage” ’63 Dodge Dart. The instructions are detailed, concise and there are only four wires to connect. Best of all, Sunpro has designed the tach with state of the art internals and an LED lamp for nighttime use. Gone is the need to keep spare light bulbs. Another item that’s been omitted is the need for a stand alone transmitter / sending unit – as was the case with the original Sun tachometers of the early Sixties. Those sending units had integral batteries that were not serviceable. A dead battery in the sender snuffed signal to the tach. It was a hassle that is no more.
The tach can be mounted atop the steering column or to any flat surface since brackets for both are included in the kit. Installation took about an hour and when I started the Dart’s cross rammed 440, I was immediately impressed by how responsive the needle is. I’ve suffered with cheap tachometers before and have zero patience for lazy needle movement. The Sunpro needle is instant and returns to the idle speed right with the engine (900 rpm on this 440-based Max Wedge).
On the road, the tach needle responds immediately and steadily to applications of full throttle, down shifts and up shifts. At night, the LED lamp provides a clean white light that’s not out of keeping with the retro theme (though it isn’t a perfect match to the dullish brown light emitted by the filament bulb used in the original – and that’s a good thing). Overall, I am jazzed to finally have access to a correctly styled retro tachometer that’s just as useful and functional as any modern tach. Take a look at the installation pictures then grab one for your retro-themed Mopar!