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Project Chevelle: Gauges Tech Article

4/30/2018
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As we begin the transformation on our Project Chevelle we realize there are a few basics that every Muscle Car simply must have. Before we flog the poor 307 on the dyno, or conduct any kind of serious road test with the car we need to install some basic gauges to keep tabs on what is going on under the hood.

Omega gauge kit (p/n 916-02061) is a great option for your Muscle Car interior. Here it’s pictured with the Omega 3 3/8” tach and chrome cup (p/n 910-93033 and 910-65002) which also accent a 70’s interior perfectly!

Here at Speedway Motors our preference when someone asks for a gauge recommendation is Omega Kustom Instruments. These are high quality gauges we have been selling for years and the best part is that they are manufactured right here in the United States. We have used these in several of the Street Rods and T-buckets we have built so we thought why not put them in the Chevelle? Keeping with the classic Muscle Car approach we chose a 3 3/8” tachometer on the column and some matching 2 1/16” gauges to hang under the dash.

Our 72 Chevelle is just about as all original and untouched as you can find today, so we really didn’t want to do anything that couldn’t be undone later. We chose to put the tach in one of our chrome cups (part number 91065002). This is a perfect option when you don’t have the ability to flush mount the tach (or a speedo for that matter) right in your dash. The bracket for these cups has a slot that is just perfect for a hose clamp, or you can bolt it down to your dash if the need is there. For the oil, water and volt gauges the approach was the same: add gauges but don’t chop up the dash! Here we chose a 3-hole mount from Autometer (part number 1822238) which worked out great!

Here is our Omega 3 3/8” tachometer (speedway p/n 91093033) installed into a chrome tach cup (p/n 91065002)

The next choice one has when selecting gauges is mechanical vs. electric. There are pros and cons to both. As the names imply, mechanical gauges are just that… mechanical. That means to feed the gauges you will be sending real live oil directly to the back of oil pressure gauge and the water temp gauge will have a capillary tube running through your firewall. This is a fine option, and one that many Muscle Cars used over the years. As of late I have become in favor of the electric gauge option for a few reasons. First, your installation is so much simpler; run some wires to the senders and the gauges and you are done! No more ½” diameter drill bits going through that all-original firewall for the water temp gauge! Another benefit is that there is NO chance oil can leak from the supply line and get into the interior of the car! One other consideration is how adaptable do you need them to be later? We might end up with another small block in this car, or maybe even use an LS based engine, so electric gauges it is for the Chevelle!

Once we got our parts list together we hit the shop on a Saturday afternoon and got to work. Joe tackled most of the install under the dash mounting the panel, running the power and ground wires and getting the gauges mounted into the Autometer panel. I swapped out our OEM temperature and oil pressure senders for the new Omega senders we would need. Here we also used some Painless ClassicBraid wire sleeve to give it an OEM appearance.

Here Joe is making the wiring harness for our Omega 2 1/16” gauges that go under the dash. This is the best way to distribute power and ground to all of the gauges rather than running individual wires to each gauge.
As we mentioned before soldering all of the connections is what we prefer to do. This ensures that you have a good connection and if done properly will be completely insulated from moisture and corrosion.
We wanted to make our gauge install look factory, so here a length of wire loom was used to help protect the temp sending unit wiring. Routing the loom in the factory retainers would make you think this was installed on the assembly line.

Finally we got the tach mounted into the cup and onto the steering column. Hooking up the last few wires rounded out the installation and it was time to go for a test drive and make sure everything was working.

This is an old trick that can really make your interior look finished. Hose clamps work great for attaching your tach cup to the steering column, but a piece of heat shrink tubing on the clamp hides it perfectly!
The new view from the driver’s seat. Offsetting the tach slightly will allow us to see the speedometer over about 35mph.
The 91602061 gauge kit will now help us keep track of the Chevelle's oil pressure, water temperature, and charging system.

Overall this sort of weekend afternoon project is exactly what we are aiming to showcase; simple upgrades that anyone can do in their spare time. You don’t have to have a shop full of specialty tools, or a huge budget to get out in the garage and make some improvements to your car!

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