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not so deluxe with gauges everywhere and no alligator skin.
:oops::confused: Who is this person? It's like we don't even know you anymore.

I appreciate you documenting your dash build. Lots of this is black magic to me, how to do it and a general procedure that'll work for a GT.

A pet peeve for me is the nearly useless glovebox, and maybe the ventilation system if it's as underpowered as you say it is (I've never been in a GT with one turned on). And I plan to scrub the radio. Gauges and all that I think I'd keep the same (but convert their function to electrical equivalents), so it's mostly the center stack and the right side and the underguts that I'm looking for options on.

Just seeing someone going through the process (I've skimmed your previous threads) is helpful and eye opening.
 

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Just Some Dude in Jersey
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Discussion Starter · #22 ·
Automotive Dashboard - Manual Of Instructions.

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I inherited my brothers' Erector sets and spent countless hours making all sorts of contraptions. Making stuff from scratch was a big thing in our family growing up

Yeah, my Lego effort didn't work out so well...
Ha! Ha!

:oops::confused: Who is this person? It's like we don't even know you anymore.

I appreciate you documenting your dash build. Lots of this is black magic to me, how to do it and a general procedure that'll work for a GT.

A pet peeve for me is the nearly useless glovebox, and maybe the ventilation system if it's as underpowered as you say it is (I've never been in a GT with one turned on). And I plan to scrub the radio. Gauges and all that I think I'd keep the same (but convert their function to electrical equivalents), so it's mostly the center stack and the right side and the underguts that I'm looking for options on.

Just seeing someone going through the process (I've skimmed your previous threads) is helpful and eye opening.
Mainly it's just fun for me to do. I've got a perfectly servicable oem dash, but I choose to make my own because of the benefits and versatility of the end result. It has always been a thing of mine to modernize the overall function of my GTs. As I have said in the past: "GT's are Space Age on the outside, but Stone Age on the inside." But GT's have a great rock solid German foundation for doing stuff like this and it's amazing how many permutations of mods people have done to them over the decades. You CAN make them Space Age on the inside, as well as, Space Age on the outside. Most guys do this with their engines and suspension and a few other widgets. I'm a styling guy, so I try to update the interiors as well as the other stuff.

You would have to experience living with and working with my GTX car's dash to realize the benefits of a modernized dash in our cars. It's utter joy to fire up that car and enjoy it's amenities.

When this is all done I will try to make a GT dash that uses the oem gauges and other stuff, just so that other guys with less ambition and freedom to spend some money can entertain the thought of making their own dash. Our oem dashes are now 50 years old and the plastic has become brittle and our dash tops are dried out and cracked. Guys have spent some big money getting them recovered, all to end up with the same basic low-function dash they had before. I decided early on with my previous dash to just modernize everything: The fuse box and wiring, the instruments, the switches, the stereo, etc. The heater was an afterthought. Most of us treat our cars like the antiques that they are and don't drive them in the Winter, hence, most of us don't really need the heater. Yet, those monstrosities take up a full TWO-THIRDS of the space behind the dash and part of the engine compartment! And 75-90% of the space they use up is duct work. It's all empty. The motor and heater core are actually in the engine compartment. By making that one decision to replace the heater with a small modern one you free up enormous amounts of space. Our oem heaters give us only one option as to where to get air from: The outside. But wait, you're trying to heat the inside of the car and defrost the windshield when it's cold or rainy outside, why take cold outside air and try to heat it up during the microsecond that it passes through the heater core? Why suck in humid outside air, when it's raining, and then blow it at the windshield to remove the humidity that's condensing on it? I choose to have the aftermarket heater recirculate the air that's already in the passenger compartment. Since I'm then sucking air into the heater from behind the dash, where it actually gets warmed by the substantial amount of engine heat coming through the firewall, and this air is also the air that I've already warmed in previous passings through the heater, my passenger compartment warms up VERY quickly. Normally your oem heater sucks in outside air and blows it into the car, but it has to have an exit, otherwise the pressure build up inside the car won't let any more air into the car. So, it exits through the flow-through ventilation vents above the rear window. But wait a minute, I just heated that air and now I'm blowing it out the back of the car! Horribly inefficient. That's like leaving your doors and windows open in your house during the Winter and Summer. I don't feel like heating the air for the cars behind me.

Gauges. Our gauges are pretty primitive. Yes, I love the look of them as much as any Opeler. I've spent 100's of thousands of miles with them in front of me over the past 40 years and loved every second of the experience. But, do I really need a 6" diameter speedo and tach? Why aren't my other gauges in front of me, why are they off to the side in the middle of the dash? Wassup with that useless clock? So, when I looked for aftermarket alternatives there weren't many options. There's a few other companies that make custom gauges, but Dakota Digital pretty much leads the pack and they only have 4 or so universal, all-in-one, set ups. Yeah, I could have bought a whole bunch of individual gauges to replicate all the individual gauges in a GT, but I'm MODERNIZING the dash, do modern cars have all sorts of individual gauges scattered across the the dash? Nope, most condense them into the area that you can see through the top half of your steering wheel. So I went that route.

Stereo/radio/infotainment. With those gauges gone from the top of the center dash, you can now install a spiffy modern double-DIN stereo with GPS, back up camera, bluetooth, phone, USB ports, outside temp, compass, and even engine sensor displays, plus DVD and other goodies. I have all that stuff.

What will it cost?:
Dakota Digital all-in-one instrument cluster: $500-$1300(I bought the deluxe $1300 one this time around)
Painless fuse box and wiring: $300
Double-DIN stereo with GPS and other goodies: $750
Vintage Air Deluxe AC/heater system: $350-$500
Cost to make the dash: Less than $150

So, at the low end, It would cost me $2000 with heater only. That's roughly what my GTX cost me. This time around I'll spend $3000 and have AC and my gauge system will be able to interface and display OBD2 stuff from a fuel injection system. Think what some guys spend on their engines and paint jobs. I'll have all the features of a modern car for about what some guys spend for fancy rims and tires.

:)
 

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Just Some Dude in Jersey
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Discussion Starter · #24 ·
Dash panel creation begins
My Vintage Air heater and another double-DIN radio arrived, so I was able to make the first panel of the center dash. I need to get a bunch of switches in order to make the next panel, so I'll be held up as I choose, order, and receive those. I talked with my retired master cabinet maker neighbor to get his agreement to help me or do for me the lamination of the red oak veneer on the panels I'm making. I also took some pics to show the comparison in size of the heater and the oem one. The oem heater assembly is 2/3's hollow ducting. Also a pic of the much more effective defrost vents the heater comes with.

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Vintage Air makes nice stuff. Do you think a Vintage Air unit will fit behind a stock GT dash? Will the depth interfere with the radio or??

Thanks!
Bill
 

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Just Some Dude in Jersey
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Discussion Starter · #26 ·
I don't think you could fit it behind the center dash, the arrangement of the radio and gauges and depth probably won't work. But it is highly likely that you could fit the heater in place of the oem heater. I really don't recommend it though, it's a whole lot of work just to replace the heater.

All the complications and shortcomings of the oem dash are why I decided to go full nuclear and re-envision and construct an entirely new dash. By going all new with modern gauges and other amenities I eliminate virtually every shortcoming of the oem dash. I could even go with air conditioning and it would all be contained behind the dash and you'd never know it was there, unlike the massive clusterfluff the oem AC system involves with a new center section between the seats and the raised luggage shelf and condenser behind the seats.

If you just take it all step by step as I'm showing it's surprisingly easy and fun to do. But it IS a $2000 adventure, which isn't for everyone.

I don't HAVE to remake the whole dash with all new stuff, I could keep the gauges, heater, single DIN radio, etc. stuff if I wanted to, but that stuff is all 50 years old and.........limited.
 

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1970 Opel Gt - Purchased July 1972 - Chartreuse - restored - 3000 miles as of 02-16, 2021 -
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So Gordon, What a really a great idea that you kept that part of the old GT to use as a template to experiment and use to make sure things work before trying it on the new car and all in the comfort of your own home. With this and all of the things you have mastered over the years and all of the knowledge you have accumulated when are you going to write that book/instruction manual. I think it time that your experience/knowledge is reflected in a title - Dr. Gordon Opel or Dr. GT - keep up the good work. I continue to learn a lot, Thanks....
 

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Just Some Dude in Jersey
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Discussion Starter · #28 ·
WOW! COOL! I needed to get another batch of aftermarket switches for my custom dash and the most versatile, cost effective, ones out there are a type that appears to be primarily targeted for the boating industry. They're all pretty much the same shape and size, have different configurations of LEDS, come in grouped "gangs" of 2/3/4/6/8, etc. Some come with pre-printed lettering and symbols or have crappy stick on tags or are blank. My problem with them is that the label-yourself tags suck or they don't have any tags that say what I want them to say. I have TWELVE switches in my GTX car for all the exotic lighting options I have going on and other devices and none of them are labeled because of this issue. Frankly, I can't remember which ones do what and have been searching for a quality labeling concept to identify them all.

I'm not planning on going quite so wild with switches on my Banana car project and wanted plain, simple, common, switch designations printed on the switches. There are 1000's of these switches being offered on Ebay, where I normally get them, but none were meeting my quality labeling desire, plus I would have to wait for them to come from China. I did general search on the Web and found a few Custom Car Switches that were pretty good, but expensive and not exactly what I wanted. Then I saw a suggestion for ones on Amazon. Hmmm......Amazon specializes in fast shipping, let's see what they have. Bingo! I found a seller that sells the simple boat style switches and they'll laser etch exactly what you want the switches to say onto the switch. But better yet, they would etch whatever symbol onto them you uploaded and that symbol would light up when you activated the switch! Well, duhhhhh, guess what symbol Gordo wanted printed on his switches? BLITZES, of course! Pic of the new switch style and pics of the other switches I have. If these new switches work out as good as I hope, I'll buy 12 more to replace all the switches in my GTX car.


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Here's the link:

Here's the image I uploaded to them:
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Here's some pics of some of the various switches I have bought that might show you why I was dissatisfied with my current switches:

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Vintage Air makes nice stuff. Do you think a Vintage Air unit will fit behind a stock GT dash? Will the depth interfere with the radio or??

Thanks!
Bill
Sorry the pics aren't very good, You can put the Vintage air mini unit where the original heater was. But it does require a considerable amount of modifying. I made a complete new dash modeled after the original to include side and center AC vents and a removable panel with a slight bulge to clear the mini unit as well as provide easy access if needed without removing the dash. I don't see any way to do it using the original dash. But if you are going to build a new dash like Gordon's it's totally doable.
 

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Just Some Dude in Jersey
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Discussion Starter · #31 ·
I just checked to see if these switches would work in an oem dash and, yes, they do fit top-to-bottom, but you would need to cut the one of the flat sides of the openings to fit them side to side. These switches are made to fit in holders that space them apart a little so that the switches don't rub against each other. Here's a link showing a modular holder/frame that you can make larger or smaller:


Here are pics of the switches just slipped into the openings. Only minor modding by trimming away one side of the 3-switch openings would be required to fit 3 switches, in holders, into the openings. You could then have 3 switches with light up blitzes and lettering in each of the 2 openings. The modding is no more involved than the carving out of the opening to fit a radio. The switches from the place I bought them are only SPST(single pole single throw) on/off switches. I haven't looked for or stumbled across variable switches like our dimmer switches, nor 3 way switches for wipers or heater fan, but they may be out there. Maybe someone could find them for me/us.

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Just Some Dude in Jersey
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Discussion Starter · #32 ·
DIY Dashboard: Main panels cut and fitted

Today I finished mocking up with cardboard the main panels of the dash, then cut them out of wood, and fitted them. In the coming days I will cut out the arch for the steering column and the oval opening for the instrument cluster. I will then make a glove box door the same oval shape as the instrument cluster and trace it's outline in a similar place on the passenger side. On my previous dash I found a white ice cube box at the Dollar Store with an opening that would fit within the borders of the glove box door and then cut an opening for it and bolt it in place. I'll make the lower panel for the passenger side when that's done. I have to wait for my custom switches with the light up blitzes and lettering on them to come before I can finish the center dash panels.


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Just Some Dude in Jersey
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Discussion Starter · #33 ·
Glove box and switch panel

I created the glove box and cut out the switch panel over the past 2 days. OMG, what a PIA it is to make a glove box, I probably spent 6 hours on it. Hiding the screws so that you don't see them, making the door flush when closed and still swing out and stop horizontal, and some sort of latching concept are tough to combine. The screws and holes you see will be covered with laminate. Magnetic latch. The switch panels arrived, it took 10 minutes to cut the openings.

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Opeler
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You know, it may just be my tired old eyes, but, relative to the line formed by the bottoms of the two dash panels, your Radio/GPS unit appears to be listing a few degrees to the right. FWIW.
Looking good so far!
 

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Just Some Dude in Jersey
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Discussion Starter · #35 ·
There are angle disparities. Good eye, though. The radio panel is presently about 1/4" too wide, I have to shave 1/8" off each side. Look even closer and you will see that the glove box door, which is traced to exactly the same shape as the instrument cluster, is 1/2" or so lower than the gauges. As mentioned in previous discussions about our cars, the driver's side "area" is one inch or so wider than the passenger side on the floor and, I guess, the dash also. The engine, tranny, driveshaft, differential, and tunnel are also shifted and inch or so towards the passenger side. I don't know for sure about the tunnel, but I did notice that the sides of the tunnel slope downwards at different angles. The passenger side is steeper, the driver's side is more angled. When I made the Mazda Miata seat adapters I discovered that the right/left seat rails have different spacing by one inch. Apparently, it is common for car makers to make the driver's side slightly wider.

You have to design something like this with "fudge factor" built in. The padding and upholstery on the dash top and the sides of the center dash will cover inaccuracies. This is one reason that put the alligator skin vinyl upholstery on the face of my GTX's dash, which was a weird thing to do. But it provided a convenient way to hide the screws and small mistakes. This time around I will use Cherry veneer on the face of the dash, which will force me to do a lot more bolt hiding.
 

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Opeler
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There are angle disparities. Good eye, though. The radio panel is presently about 1/4" too wide, I have to shave 1/8" off each side. Look even closer and you will see that the glove box door, which is traced to exactly the same shape as the instrument cluster, is 1/2" or so lower than the gauges. As mentioned in previous discussions about our cars, the driver's side "area" is one inch or so wider than the passenger side on the floor and, I guess, the dash also. The engine, tranny, driveshaft, differential, and tunnel are also shifted and inch or so towards the passenger side. I don't know for sure about the tunnel, but I did notice that the sides of the tunnel slope downwards at different angles. The passenger side is steeper, the driver's side is more angled. When I made the Mazda Miata seat adapters I discovered that the right/left seat rails have different spacing by one inch. Apparently, it is common for car makers to make the driver's side slightly wider.

You have to design something like this with "fudge factor" built in. The padding and upholstery on the dash top and the sides of the center dash will cover inaccuracies. This is one reason that put the alligator skin vinyl upholstery on the face of my GTX's dash, which was a weird thing to do. But it provided a convenient way to hide the screws and small mistakes. This time around I will use Cherry veneer on the face of the dash, which will force me to do a lot more bolt hiding.
Interesting! I had never noticed the asymmetry of the driver and passenger side cabin spaces, but it is visually noticeable in the pictures of your bare bones mock-up. The driver definitely has more foot and leg room.
 

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Just Some Dude in Jersey
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Discussion Starter · #37 ·
Dash top bull nose, heater switch panel, and defrost vents



Today I cut slots in the dash for the defrost vents and mounted them, I made the final bottom panel for the center dash and made holes for the heater controls in it, plus room for 2 extra gauges(Vacuum and AFR) that I'll install later at some point, and I hit Home Depot to buy a 1" diameter wood pole to make the bullnose edge for the dash top. I then cut the pole in half lengthwise, cut a 1/4" deep slot in it, then miter cut it into 5 precise length pieces to follow the arc of the dash top. I still have enough leftover 1/2" thick PVC "sculpting foam" from my previous dash to make the padding for the dash. I will actually use something from the oem dash: The side flow-through air dash vents. I will repurpose them as floor vents sticking out of the bottom sides of the center console. Just a few more odds and ends and I'm ready to start upholstering and laminating cherry veneer to the dash faces.

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1970 Opel Gt - Purchased July 1972 - Chartreuse - restored - 3000 miles as of 02-16, 2021 -
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WOW Gordon, and I think I have accomplished something by rebuilding the brake system of my GT. Like everyone else just can't wait to see your final product. But don't get me wrong, I don't want to rush you as I really enjoy watching the journey and the steps and progress that leads to the end result. I use the term projects for myself to describe something that I am currently working on but this, well this is a real project. I envy you and your patience and level of not only skill but design/creativity and resourcefulness to craft it and well, to make it happen. Best wishes for your continued success. Best, Carl
 

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Just Some Dude in Jersey
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Discussion Starter · #40 ·
I'm almost on autopilot building this dash, I'm following the same basic design as my previous one. Working in the comfort of my basement, with the convenience of having a chopped out GT firewall, floor, and seats, makes it all so much better than my last dash. I built that one during a snowy Winter and had to keep walking back and forth from my basement to my frozen garage hundreds of times.

My biggest/only worry is whether the red oak veneer on the dash and door panels will look right.
 
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