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280zx custom dash! Simple process too!


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Hey guys, just wanted to show you a project I've been working on for a little while now. I'm putting a carbureted LT1 from a 95 Caprice into my 79 280zx and building it as a simple street car. Since I'm looking for a no frills kind of ride, I built the dash to reflect that.

 

I started by stripping the dash and gauges from the frame, and removing some of the metal supports to open up the back a bit. When I was designing this in my head, I broke it into 3 separate sections: glove box, center dash, and gauge panel. I decided I wanted a place to mount my iPad on the dash, and a few critical gauges, and not much else, so the more space I had in the center for the iPad the better.

 

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I took MDF strips and mounted them horizontally where the glove box was to create a curved face that I think is pretty cool. I then measured the area for the center dash. After fitting and cutting the MDF panel out and screwing it onto the frame, I began measuring and trimming the gauge panel and fitted it into the frame as well. I used wood screws and super glue to affix it to the frame, and tried to reinforce it as much as I could.

 

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After the glue dried and I was confident the frame was structurally sound, I went to JoAnn's Fabrics and got (yes, I know) ladies swimsuit liner. It was the best stuff they had, so I figured I'd just run with it. I cut off a portion that fit over the glove box section, and began to shape my curve. I used clamps and tape to hold it taut across the face, and created a cool transition area between the right 2 panels. I applied copious amounts of fiberglass resin to it and let it sit overnight. I was pleased with how it turned out the next day. After getting the basic shape, I continued to add layers of fiberglass to the swimsuit liner, sanding down the transitions and high points as I went.

 

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After everything had dried, I took the dash out to the car to fit everything up and make sure it had not shifted when it hardened. It had a little bit, but it was nothing that a few washers could not fix, and it definitely was not noticeable.

 

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After the mock up in the car, and after the fiberglass was fully hardened, I began to apply layers of fiberglass filler and Bondo to shape my dash. I applied one heavy layer, sanded it, and then applied another to fill in the gaps. I did this for 3 or 4 days, and I gotta say, a random orbital sander is the way to go! I'm finally at the point where the curved portion is perfect, and it's as smooth as a baby's bottom. A little bit of work with some 220 grit and I'll be ready to paint it! After I finish the gauge panel of course. I'm still doing fiberglass work on that side to get the look I want, but I'll update as soon as I make any progress! I'm drilling for my gauges now, and I going with the SpeedHut Dual Gauge to save space. (http://www.speedhut.com/custom_gauge_description-gauge_type-Speedometer_GPS_Dual-auto_number-940.htm)

 

Lemme know what you guys think! Definitely want to get input on how to set up the gauge cluster area.

 

Thanks in advance!

 

Matt

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