When you jump behind the wheel of your car, what is the one thing you’ve always got your eye on? If you said anything besides “the road”, you answered incorrectly—but we’re not going to conduct a driver safety survey here, so don’t worry too much. As even the safest drivers will admit, your attention span is split between what’s beyond the windshield glass and the cluster of telltale instruments that are literally at your fingertips. For the most part, “function” is the number one priority of your vehicle’s gauges, as they are the communications control center, linking you to all the vital stats of your car’s mechanical components. It wasn’t up until recently, however, that there were a whole lot of individual choices to make when it came to “form”—you either had to deal with mechanical/six-volt relics (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing) or go with a popular aftermarket instrument.

Thanks to technology, limitations are indeed a thing of the past. For those who need a way to think outside the box, rather than follow the rules of conformity, there’s a way to have the best of both worlds (gauge-wise) thanks to Classic Instruments. Along with offering the widest selection of aftermarket gauges on the market, they have also set up an in-house program where customers can send their original gauges (or pretty much any vintage instruments) and Classic’s Custom Team will retrofit them with all new electronic instrumentation. Though they claim restoration is not part of the process, they do re-face gauges, and can do so to replicate the stock appearance or customize the graphics to your liking. Regardless, the end result is always the same: precision-engineered instrumentation packaged in a personalized manner.

Next time you’re out scouring the swap meet (outdoors or online) and happen to eyeball an oddball gauge cluster—consider giving it a new life and home in your Lowrider with a Classic Instruments retrofit. If you prefer to keep your car’s stock gauges, but a traditional restoration won’t do, follow along and see what Classic did with some dilapidated ’47 Chevy Fleetline instruments for a little “restofication” inspiration.


<strong>1</strong>. Worth saving or dumpster material? While some wouldn't give these a second look unless they were possibly the last set on earth, believe it or not, they still plenty of life left in 'em.


<strong>2</strong>. Yep, this is the very same speedometer along with the horizontal cluster, which was quite the worse for wear. These are all from the very same '47 Chevy Fleetline they were originally installed in decades ago. Pictures too good to be true? Follow along as we reveal the secrets behind Classic Instruments' Custom Team.


<strong>3</strong>. Classic Instruments' custom department has the knowhow and the resources to convert practically any
shape, size, and/or application of gauges to the same modern, electronic instrumentation found in their line of popular gauges.


<strong>4</strong>. Classic Instruments may have done wonders with the gauges shown above, but in an attempt to not make the job even tougher than it already was, not to mention damage reusable items like the convex glass, they were individually packaged with care before being shipped off to their Custom Team for the pending retrofit.


<strong>5</strong>. Besides visually evaluating the gauges condition wise (note the bezels are only partially painted here—they were pitted pretty badly, and since replacements aren't available, they would get painted completely instead), the Custom Team prepares for the designing the gauge-face graphics.


<strong>6</strong>. The original speedometer and clock graphics get scanned, cleaned up a bit, and reformatted for future use. This process is done for both recreating OE faces as well as custom designs.


<strong>7</strong>. In preparation for the new instrumentation, the stock gauges are gutted from the housings and, in most cases; the housings are modified to accept the larger instruments.


<strong>8-9</strong>. Completed graphics are applied to freshly painted dial faces. With the minor exception of the Classic Instruments name at the bottom, the average person would be hard-pressed to tell the difference between these and a set of NOS ones.<strong>8-9</strong>. Completed graphics are applied to freshly painted dial faces. With the minor exception of the Classic Instruments name at the bottom, the average person would be hard-pressed to tell the difference between these and a set of NOS ones.


<strong>10</strong>. Both speed-o and clock received new transparent pointers before getting hermetically sealed with painted bezels and polished glass lenses.


<strong>11</strong>. On the flipside, both round gauges are pre-tested and pre-wired (each with a single weatherpac-style connector) before being called done. The speedometer is now fully programmable, as well, evident by the DIP switches at the top of the gauge.


<strong>12-13</strong>. About the only telltale way these gauges are more than prettied-up old ones is from the backside—no longer are there any fragile copper sending unit lines or frayed cloth-covered wire!<strong>12-13</strong>. About the only telltale way these gauges are more than prettied-up old ones is from the backside—no longer are there any fragile copper sending unit lines or frayed cloth-covered wire!


<strong>14</strong>. The process for the horizontal gauge cluster is pretty much the same, but a little different—each stock gauge mechanism is replaced with electronic units like the ones found in Classic's smaller round gauges.


<strong>15</strong>. All four gauges mount to a single aluminum plate that is then installed into the modified stock housing. The gauge faces have been treated to the same—albeit less intricate—retrofit, graphically speaking.


<strong>16</strong>. There's definitely more to house now with the electronic instrumentation, but the space requirements are anything but restricted behind a '42-48 Chevy dash.


<strong>17</strong>. Once the cluster has been fully assembled, like the speed-o that preceded this one, it is completely tested to ensure gauge accuracy and then wired with a single, convenient harness.


<strong>18-19</strong>. Considering these gauges weren't worthy of restoring in the first place, it really goes to show what an amazing job Classic's Custom Team is capable of.<strong>18-19</strong>. Considering these gauges weren't worthy of restoring in the first place, it really goes to show what an amazing job Classic's Custom Team is capable of.


<strong>20</strong>. As mentioned previously, the round gauge bezels were painted solid, rather than having replicating the stock two-tone (due to badly pitted metal). When selecting gauges for an instrument retrofit, consider the condition of the parts that


<strong>21</strong>. The gauge cluster fascia was later wood-grained along with the dash (something the wood grainer wasn't too happy about, as he had to delicately pry the bezel off and then reinstall


<strong>22</strong>. Along with some freshly-dipped dash moldings, the