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How to Restore Your C3 Corvette: 1968-1982: Dash Pad Installation

Corvette interiors evolved during the C3's long production run. From 1868 to 1976 vinyl interior was standard and a leather interior package was optional. In 1968 and 1969 the leather upgrade only included the seats. This option was expanded in 1970 with the addition of cut-pile carpeting, wood grain accents, and carpet trim on the door panels. In 1977 leather seating became standard and the upgrade was included in the base price of the car.

In 1978 the seats received a major upgrade when a pace car was ordered. The pace car interior included redesigned clamshell seats that folded flat on the passenger's side. The new seats featured bolsters that provided more support for the passenger and driver. They were an instant hit and became standard in all Corvettes from 1979 to 1982.

This Tech Tip is From the Full Book, HOW TO RESTORE YOUR C3 CORVETTE 1968-1982. For a comprehensive guide on this entire subject you can visit this link:


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1968-1977 Dash Installation

The dash panels in the 1968-1977 Corvettes are different than those in the 1978-1982 Corvettes. These earlier cars feature a three-panel dash system that includes the driver-side console, center stack, and storage pockets in front of the passenger. The top of the dash is a separate pece held in place with screws and a series of clips that attach to the lower windshield frame.

In you have misplaced or damager interior screws, you can order a complete screw package from any aftermarket Corvette warehouse. If your screw holes are enlarged, do not use a bigger screw; instead purchase drywall plastic plugs (like the ones used to hang photos on the wall) from any hardware store. They come in a variety of sizes. Insert them into the enlarged hole to fix the problem. You can use them on any interior reassembly.

The instrument cluster consists of a large tachometer and speedometer. They are enclosed in a metal frame that attaches to the dash panel. The driver-side dash panel also includes a headlight switch on the left and manual headlight door and headlight-override switches under the steering column. The panel includes the ignition switch on 1968 Corvettes.

It is best to assemble and install this side of the dash first. Remember to plug in all of the connectors for the tach and speedometer cables before screwing the unit into the dash frame. The center stack holds all of the critical engine instruments ad well as a clock. All of the correct wires should be attached to this stack before mounting it into the dash frame with screws.

At this time, you should install the radio because the passenger's side of the dash is still open, so you can reach around and connect the radio wiring and antenna.

This is now a good time to install the top dash panel pad. Carefully slide the clips into the windshield frame and lower it onto the driver-side console and center stack. Secure it with Phillips screws that you stored during disassembly. Complete the dash installation by mounting the passenger-side dash cover.


1. Install Instrument Cluster

The instrument cluster that includes the tachometer and speedometer is installed onto the driver-side dash panel first. Next plug in the bulbs, wires, and tach, and attach the speedometer cables.

Secure the dash panel into the instrument panel frame; it’s much easier to complete this procedure with the steering column removed. All of the wires should be in place before the dash panel is installed. Use a Phillips screwdriver to install the two screws that hold the driver-side panel in place, which is near the steering column.


2. Connect Instrument Console Wires

Plug in the color-coded center console instrument cluster wires (your previous tagging should make this task straightforward). Once the power connectors are plugged into the cluster install the unit into the center opening of the dash.

This is a good time to install the radio because you can reach behind it and hook up the power and antenna connections. The dash pad with the two factory speakers is seen in the foreground of the photo.


3. Install Dash Pad

Once the center cluster is secured, lock the top dash pad into place against the windshield. The top dash is held in place with a bolt that is attached underneath the pad to a bracket on the passenger’s side. Use a 5/16-inch socket to tighten it. Steel clips and screws hold this panel in place. Finally, the right side of the dash with the map pockets is installed and screwed into place.


4. Inspect Finished Dash Pad

The completed dash should look like this. The non-factory radio sticks out from the dash, but offers the owner a larger choice of entertainment options.


Written by Walt Thurn and posted with permission of CarTech Books

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