Now, we'd be the first to admit that by race car standards our Project Totally Gassed is being built to a very high level, but since it is a street-going, Gasser tribute car we wanted to have things built to the level that Big John Mazmanian would have appreciated. To that end it was determined that a very nice, stock-appearing dashboard would be appropriate in the car. Remember the Tri-Five Chevrolets were drag raced when they were nearly new as junior stockers, modified production cars, and Gassers, so many of the race cars did have stock-appearing dashboards.
To that end Editor Brian Brennan began his research into locating the best parts to create a dashboard that would appear stock, but have modern gauge movements for more accuracy than the 59-year-old stock gauges. (Remember that this all came about because artist extraordinaire Steve Stanford and ol' Brennan had too much time on their hands one Saturday afternoon. It wasn't long after that Stanford had brush to paper and here we go!) Brennan also knew there were many options and while there was a way to place a trio of gauges into the actual dashboard, most Gassers of the 1960s had the obligatory triple-gauge cluster hung under the dashboard directly in front of the shifter. It simply says 1960s hot rodding.
The project began with a very nice, original 1955 Chevrolet dashboard that had not been cut up, even the radio area of the dash was untouched, a rarity among early dashboards. Most of the trim was missing, but the dashboard itself was in good condition. After disassembly the dashboard was media blasted and a coat of epoxy primer was applied. The dashboard was then test-fit to the new Woody's Hot Rodz and Real Deal Steel body. Happily, the dashboard bolted right in, a testimony to both the condition of the original dashboard and the accuracy of the reproduction all-steel body. After that quick test-fit it was time to build the dashboard as one of the sub-assemblies of the Gasser project.
The building process began by block sanding the dashboard and when all the minor imperfections were gone we covered it with a few coats of PPG satin black urethane paint. When all the components arrived it was just a matter of laying the dashboard down on a soft padded workbench and assembling all of the parts. Building sub-assemblies during a project is a great way to provide inspiration for the entire project and get that all-important sense of completion needed to keep you moving forward. As it turned out the dashboard project was a lot of fun. It involved a few catalogs from companies like Danchuk Manufacturing and Custom Autosound, along with shipping the gauges off to Classic Instruments. A quick call to Summit Racing was all it took to find the period-perfect Sunpro Tach and mounting kit. Keep this in mind when doing your own project. We called American Autowire in advance and told them what we wanted to do and they provided the additional wiring in one of the 1955 Chevy kits that accounted for the extra electrics, such as the Classic Instruments Sky Drive GPS, Sunpro tach, and Classic Instrument gauges mounted to the bottom of the dash. (American Autowire also took into account that we will have three Classic Instrument gauges mounted to the firewall—couldn't resist this over-the-top treatment.)
In the end we have a dashboard that at first glance could be mistaken for stock, but the differences, while subtle, are also substantial. Follow along as we build a new old dashboard for our Project Totally Gassed.