Adding a Touch of Class and Performance
Have you ever looked at your stock Chevy dash and thought to yourself, Man, I bet I could fit Auto Meter gauges in that dash bezel if I just tried? It is possible. We saw it in a truck one time and decided we had to have that in our own Chevy. There is nothing that brightens up a stock ’73-to’87 dashboard like completely replacing the instrument cluster with an array of Auto Meter gauges.
It’s not too hard once you actually get into it. If you can do some simple wiring and soldering, then you can make the conversion to your own dash. Most of the time, we see it done on Jeeps or ’73-to-’87 Chevys and GMCs, but there is no limitation to custom work.
01. Four gauges are shown. The two on the left are short-sweep electric gauges. On the right are full-sweep electric gauges.Short-sweep electric gauges are the earlier instrument design in use since at least the ‘80s. They use an resistive type sensor that relies on making a ground connection with whatever they are threaded into. They utilize a 90-degree sweep to cover their entire scale, making fine distinctions between numbers more difficult to discern while traveling at speed. They are a cost effective upgrade over conventional original equipment instruments and are suitable for street and high performance use. Full-sweep electric gauges represent top of the line gauge technology. They have a 270-degree sweep with a higher degree of accuracy than both the (short-sweep) electric or mechanical gauges. They use solid-state sensors which are more compact and resistant to vibration. But the cost for a full-sweep gauge is about double what you would pay for a short-sweep one.Auto Meter’s Kris Carlson recommends using a combination of both short-sweep and full-sweep gauges to get most bang for your buck. Oil pressure and temperature gauges can benefit from a full-sweep range, but you can probably get away with short-sweep gauges for fuel and voltage readings.
02. A fair amount of the old Chevy dash bezels crack in some way—including ours—so it was a no-brainer to start with an LMC Truck replacement dash bezel. Since we were putting in such nice gauges, it seemed silly to put them in anything less than a brand new dash bezel.
03. To plug the gauges into the dash bezel, we started cutting the rings on the bezel with a Dremel cutting tool. If you’re doing this on a ’73-to-’87 Chevy, please note that all dashes are not the same! The four smaller holes on the left of the bezel are actually different sizes in the ’80s dashes when compared to the ’70s. For the ’80s bezel, you might find that 2 5/8 gauges work better than the 2 1/16 gauges (which work better in the ’70s dashes).