July '16

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86 THE SHOP JULY 2016 F irst impressions count, and when custom and performance cars are counted, that first impression almost inevitably attaches to the exterior styling. But interior style counts, too; after all, that's where the owner/driver will spend most of their time. The interior even offers a second chance to make a first impression. "What is the first thing someone looks at inside a car?" asks Tom Stark, owner of Precision Designs in Denver. "The dash, of course!" "It's different from what's on the outside of the car," adds Paul Dierschow, who owns Sports Car Craftsmen in Arvada, Colo- rado. "Sure, you want a shiny car in good condition. But you're looking at the dash- board every minute that you are driving. So the look of the dash is very important to enjoying the driving experience." For maximum aesthetic success, the look of the gauge cluster should harmonize with the theme of the build, enhancing the vehicle as a whole. Stark recalls the 1944 Mack fire truck that Precision Designs built in 2011, where the gauges "needed a 'commercial' feel. Now we're having gauges with a very rich, sports- car theme made by Classic Instruments for the '32 Ford three-window coupe we hope to debut this year." So we asked gauge manufacturers and custom-car builders to guide us through the latest trends and newest tech in dashboards and gauges. That they did not always agree likely reflects the diversity of the market, and the tendency of individual businesses to find their own unique niche. Still, some significant themes emerged. Most notable is a preference for modern OE technology—or something beyond it—regardless of the styling on the face of the dial. GAUGING THE TECH John McLeod, owner of Classic Instru- ments in Boyne City, Michigan notes a high demand for instrument technologies that solve common custom car problems. GPS speedometer technology is one obvious example, eliminating the need to adapt the output from the transmission to the input of the speedometer. "Our Sky Drive GPS sending unit will make any electric speedometer a GPS speedometer," McLeod explains. "That's been a game changer. And our multi-pat- ented ZST technology makes the speed- ometer much easier to calibrate than ever before, while connecting to almost every output known in the U.S. today." The system eliminates the need for detailed calibration procedures, dip switch adjustments or driving a marked mile. "Just drive the vehicle at 30 miles per hour and push a button," he says. ZST is also self-diagnosing, "giving the likely reflects the diversity of the market, and the tendency of individual businesses Gauging the market for a dash of class. Auto Interior Impressions By John F. Katz The trend is toward a preference for modern instrument technology behind nostalgic styling on the face of the dial. (Photo courtesy Dakota Digital) HOT ROD & CUSTOMIZATION

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