A dashing dilemma…

Posted: March 16, 2014 in Thunderbird, travel
Tags: , , , ,
Ugly steering wheel.

Ugly steering wheel.

Yesterday I spent all afternoon working on the dash of the T’bird.  When the w/s was sunken into the cowl, the dash mounts went with it, and of course, nothing fit right.  The dash pod and glove box pod got moved up and forward, the steering wheel mount had to be modified, the gauge panel and glove box door then got moved back into their original location, tunneled deep into the pods.

The problem is, the big, ugly, mid-80’s Mustang steering wheel and thick steering column jacket.  In the early 90’s, when I originally built the car, that stuff looked modern, but now it’s dated, worn looking, and doesn’t fit the style of the car.  Now that the car will have some style…

So, I’m trying to figure out how best to “fix” this.  I could just toss the wheel, losing cruise control, which we never used anyway.  I’d like a flat, four spoke Sprint car style wheel, which would work with the column, although it’d still have to have the awkward, bulky jacket to hide the wiring, switch gear and tilt wheel works.

Option two is to swap out the column and wheel altogether, and use a slim, original style column, again using a flat spoke Sprint car style wheel.  I’d keep the engine-turned dash panel and glove box door, but have to add an ignition switch in the dash, and rewire the blinkers.

Option three is the most work, which would be the above column and wheel, and use the T’bird’s original dash and gauges, add a tach in place of the clock, and glove box door.  This would be fine, but then the rest of the interiors machine finish panels won’t match the dash, and I’d have to come up with something different for them.  Maybe matching, machined aluminum panels?  I have friends with Bridgeport mills who’d probably teach me enough to let me do that on my own.

So, the project just keeps getting bigger and bigger…

Machine finished trim panels that match the dash.

Machine finished trim panels that match the dash.

I can't stand this wheel.

I can’t stand this wheel.

Original dash cluster and glove box door.

Original dash cluster and glove box door.


Addendum:  Steering wheel choice made.  Leaning towards avoiding re-wiring the whole car, and making a suitably good looking jacket for the steering column.  I can do it.





  1. thumbbuster says:

    pic Date: Sun, 16 Mar 2014 16:59:10 +0000 To: thumbbuster@msn.com

  2. jerry says:

    saw your diamond t photo in the auto roma looked with the caned ham setup behind it impressive (very)

  3. Donald Cyr says:

    The best ever steering wheel for a full custom is a 59 Olds wheel.

    Make it work and you will be called a magician.


  4. Rod Kiser says:

    I can’t tell you what to do about the wheel, but I do like the way you adapted a Fox Mustang instrument cluster. The engine turned panels are a nice touch too. This is going to be a sweet T-bird when you finish!

  5. The machined panels really DO look sharp, and I agree about the wheel. I am sure you have considered GM tilt-tele column. If there was a way to adapt those cruise buttons to a groovy after market wheel….NAH. The column is probably too fat. I am betting that one of your friends or readers comes up with the solution. Some of those cats have deep hot rod knowledge. I am going to follow this thread as I really dig that ‘Bird.

  6. flynbrian48 says:

    Thanks guys. I think I’ve solved the wheel dilemma, check back and see how it turns out…


  7. Lemble says:

    What about an IDIDIT column ? Could you put the cruise buttons on the console and go back to the old dash. This would get ride of the dated look of the engine turned dash. The old gauges would look better . This will make the car flow better ( just like your awesome truck and trailer) Yes it will take you longer and cost you more but your results will be better.

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