Most of us just glaze over at the thought of actually installing an electrical system in our project car. Those bundles of multi-colored spaghetti are just more than many of us can handle. Maybe wiring seems confusing because, unlike fuel, cooling, oil systems, etc., we can’t see the electricity flow. Wiring your hot rod can be straightforward. The hardest part is running the wires neatly and avoiding sharp, moving, and hot objects.

Today’s aftermarket wiring kit manufacturers, American Autowire, Keep It Clean Wiring, E Z Wiring, Haywire, Kwik Wire, Painless Performance Products, Rebel Wire, Ron Francis Wiring, and others, have made the process of wiring your street rod extremely easy. With labeled wires, easy-to-follow instructions, and smaller, more compact units, the task of wiring a hot rod in one’s garage has become relatively simple.

In the application on the following pages we are dealing with a basic, no frills hot rod, meaning no power windows, no power door locks, no electric trunk, no heat/air, just the basics. Knowing this we searched for a simple no-frills wiring kit. While there are many such wiring kits out there, we chose a kit from Rebel Wire.

Assembled in America from American-made components, the Rebel Wire kit is a simple, eight-circuit kit that handles the lighting, ignition/engine starting, gauges, charging system, as well as radio, wipers, heater, and horn. Rebel Wire also offers a nine-plus three-circuit kit, and a 20-circuit kit for the highly optioned at-home project. In addition to the basic wiring kit we purchased a fan relay kit. Since we were not using a GM column or an aftermarket column patterned after a GM column, we purchased a turn signal switch from American Autowire.

The tools required in wiring a street rod are pretty basic: wire cutters, a wire stripper, screwdrivers, and a heat gun to seal the heat shrink tubing. (We do not recommend a cigarette lighter or matches for this task, but we have used a flame on occasion.)

Depending on what comes in your wiring kit and how you plan to connect wires, route wires, etc., you may need some additional hardware. In our case we needed an assortment of crimp connectors, an ignition switch, a battery disconnect, a light and turn signal switch, a horn button, several dual-row barrier strips, several jumper strips, and some heat shrink tubing. (Note: 3M makes a standard heat shrink tubing and heat shrink tubing lined with a sealer. We located the sealer type of heat shrink tubing at a local boat supply store. The sealer in the tubing makes a waterproof seal, which is good, especially in an open car.)

Armed with our Rebel Wire kit, instructions, and our additional hardware we set out to wire our street rod. The first decision is where to mount the fuse block. The normal mounting spot is under the dash on the driver side. We chose to mount the fuse block under the dash on the passenger side. We felt that in our case that would allow the easiest access to the fuse block, the most room to bundle and run the wires (not dealing with the steering column, throttle linkage, and the clutch and brake pedals).

We mounted the fuse block and the flasher/relay panel to a piece of PVC board and secured the board to an underdash support. The next step was to cut a 1-1/4-inch hole in the firewall to pass the harness forward. The kit came with a grommet to fit this hole and the wires were neatly bundled in a manner that allowed us to separate the wires that were required to go to the engine compartment.

Next, we separated the front wiring harness into smaller wiring harnesses. Since the wires are marked every 6 inches it was a simple task to separate them into smaller bundles based on where they were to be used. We used the supplied wire ties to form the various harnesses. (Note: There are enough wire ties in the kit to do the job, but since we feel strongly about neatness, we redid many of the harnesses as we progressed and that required additional wire ties.)