There's something inherently cool about dashboards in '50s cars, particularly those from the latter part of the decade. They assault your senses with a kaleidoscope of funky shapes, oodles of chrome, and Buck Rogers-inspired switches and gauges that make you want to strap on your spacesuit and blast off to the moon (or, at the very least, plunk in a couple dimes and cue up your favorite tunes).

The point is, few dashes in '50s cars need to be radically customized to be cool. Most of them, however, could stand to improve their communication skills. After all, idiot lights just won't cut it if you've got a hot V-8 under the hood, and it's nice to be able to keep tabs on trivial little matters like engine rpm and oil pressure. Screwing a row of accessory gauges to the bottom of the dash is always an option, but there are other avenues for those who prefer a cleaner look.

This is especially true if you've got a popular ride like a '57 Chevy. Classic Instruments (CI) has one of the latest offerings for this venerable classic Chevy. The company's system utilizes the stock '57 gauge housing but replaces the speedometer with a four-in-one unit that not only includes a programmable speedo, but also a tach, oil pressure gauge, and voltmeter. The stock fuel and temp gauges are also replaced with updated CI units that fit in the original locations. Best of all, it's a simple bolt-in affair that looks like it belongs, rather than appearing like an afterthought. The gauges are available with white, black, gray, or tan faces, or for an extra fee you can get custom fonts and just about any background color imaginable.

Classic Instruments should have a similar setup for '55-56 Chevys available by the time you read this. There's good news for non-Tri-Five owners as well. CI's Tetra street rod system uses the same trio of gauges in an oval-shaped aluminum insert. Furthermore, the company offers a custom gauge service in which it can retrofit updated movements into almost any vintage gauge and restore or customize the faces to order. Give them a call to find out more about this service.

In the meantime, why not follow along as Michael Astamendi, of Protech Performance in Burbank, California, installs the kit in a customer's '57 Bel Air. Michael's shop specializes in Tri-Fives and other vintage Chevys, and he agreed that this gauge kit was as clean as any he'd seen. Take a look and see what you think.

SOURCE
Protech Performance
1107 S. Flower St., Dept. R&C
Burbank
CA  91502
Classic Instruments, Inc.
P.O. Box 411
Boyne City
MI  49712