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73 Dash Replacement Project


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I ordered a reproduction dash from Vintage dashes December 2021, finally received July 2022.  Been psyching myself to do the replacement, since dashes a wiring are not my favorite to work on.  When I purchased the car 8 years ago, it already had a full dash cap installed.  It actually looked okay, but the tach has never worked, and a cap prevents the removal of the gauges from the front, at least for me.  So I really couldn't do a proper repair of the tach.  And I want to fix the clock, which always reads 2:40.  All other gauges work fine.

Here's the new dash:





Here's the old full dash cap.  Also the glovebox door fits tight and has a string to help pull it open.


The fun begins....🤔


Edited by KenFirch
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I marked all connectors and and worked slowly removing all wires.  Plan was to disconnect the multiple plugs on the right side and leave wiring harness attached to backside of dash.

Removing ducting gives a bit more room to work.





Luckily the wiring in this car isn't butchered with splices, only the radio connections had to be dealt with.  The two main power feeds (large white and white/red) through the firewall had crimped butt connectors, so I assume the dash has been out before.  I should probably check the heater core too.

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Now I removed the cap from the original dash.  To remove the various knobs:

  • Odometer reset: small set screw at speedo end, and pull knob off, remove cable.
  • Hazard switch: push knob in, twist 1/4 turn counter clockwise.
  • Lighter: 1" socket works to remove nut on back.
  • Panel light knob: pull off, remove 2 screws from back.


Luckily there wasn't too much adhesive holding the cap on, and it took about an hour of carefully prying it off the dash without cracking it.  I'll probably sell the cap eventually.


Once the screws that held the dash to the metal were removed, it slid right off.



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9 hours ago, Dave WM said:

test fit the glove box door on the new dash once installed on the frame BEFORE reinstalling the dash. You may need some tweeking to get it to open and close smoothly, much easier with the dash out.

Good idea, thanks for that.

I mounted the dash frame just to get an idea of the bolt in process, without all the weight.  Pretty ugly.


The edges that will need to be slit and folded around the frame is kind of thick, like 1/16" or more of dense foam on back of the dash.  So for the glove box and center panel opening, I used a blade to thin it more like the original dash, as close to the outside material without cutting through.  It was like filleting fish!  I may have to drive over to Reno to get some adhesive, since California has banned all the good stuff.  Weird that it was left to me to do that cutting, but I can't imagine a thick piece like that being wrapped around the edge and being held in place with contact cement!  Maybe I'm missing something here.



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I screwed the vent panel in place and marked the edge, just so I know the top edge is forward enough to "hook" the top front edge of the dash pad when screwing pad to frame.


Nice that the new dash has the same molded in place steel rails to screw into.  There's 17 screws, here I've got finish nails sticking out of each hole.  I should have ran a screw through each hole just to get a thread formed instead of waiting while trying to mount to frame.



I also marked each hole with a marker which helped while positioning the dash over frame.  I worked from the center outward.


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I've got the new dash screwed to the frame.  Glad it wasn't a 50 year old original dash pad, as much as you have to muscle it in place to get the holes aligned.  New one has some flex to it.



Got the holes drilled/cut for the hazard switch, lighter, dimmer, and odometer reset.


Next is cutting. trimming, folding the edges, and gluing to frame, around the center and glove box opening.  I assume that is what others do.

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13 minutes ago, Richard McDonel said:

I've been considering the same job on my '71.  So far, your pictures are scaring me away from even thinking of it!

Ha, yeah, I know the feeling!  I've never done a Z dash before, and I'm not trying to pass myself off as an expert.  Just showing what I'm doing and hopefully get a few tips along the way.  👍

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make sure you have the dash installed as deeply onto the frame as you can.IIRC the holes on the metal frame are large enough for some wiggle room. You want that wiggle to be biased as far back (on the frame, forward from the driver posistion that is) as possible. The issue is the door opening, The dash is just big enough, if you have it forward at all you risk the edge of the dash being visible with the door open. It should tuck in behind the opening. This was the way it was on a 280z anyway.

Edited by Dave WM
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