(Instrumental)Classic car instruments now almost half the price yet offer five times more features: Here’s how the instrument panels are made to accommodate them

Even the most committed Mopar enthusiasts feel some reluctance to purchasing original equipment gauges costing as much as $1,500. The expense is particularly hard to justify when you consider that superior, modern replacement gauges with more features then the original ones are available at half the cost. The complication with modern gauges in classic Mopars is that they are slightly different in size from the originals and therefore require the original dash panels to be modified.

This was the scenario that persuaded Classic Thunder Road to enter the instrument panel business in 2002. Their direct-fit ABS composite dash panels retain the classic look, layout and appearance of original dash panels yet they accept today’s modern 3-3/8 inch and 2-1/16 inch aftermarket gauges.

The Classic Thunder Road dash panels are beautiful parts but more importantly, they’re high quality, durable replacements that fit right. In the following photographs you’ll see the process used for the manufacture of one part of their new 3-piece instrument panel for 1968 to ’70 Dodge and Plymouth muscle cars. As you’ll observe, the Carson City, Nevada firm are not mass producing cheap molded parts, but rather are making high quality instrument panels one at a time in a precise and careful process.

Contemporary 3-3/8 inch and 2-1/16 inch gauges exhibit many features not available in original gauges, and creating replacement dash panels to accept them starts with obtaining an original dash assembly, which acts as the master pattern.