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1958-1962 Corvette Dash Pads were made from vinyl over a molded foam base. If the vinyl covering is cracked or has shrunk to the extent that gaps are visible, the only effective solution is to install a new pad. Installation of a new pad requires removal of the instrument housing, passenger side grab bar, package tray, aluminum insert, radio speaker grille and rear view mirror. It also requires removal of the interior light escutcheon, trim where the upper dash meets the center dash and complete windshield assembly. The instrument housing is screwed to the dash with five screws that must be accessed from underneath, and tethered by a wide variety of wires and cables that must be disconnected. If you are not familiar where everything goes, it is wise to label each wire and cable before disassembly.

To begin, remove the Corvette’s Steering Column mast jacket lower cover and cover support. These are found right beneath the area where the steering column meets the instrument housing. Disconnect the speedometer and tachometer cables, unplug the wire harnesses to the headlamp switch and ignition switch, unscrew the line to the oil pressure gauge, pull out all of the illumination bulbs, turn signal bulbs, and high beam indicator bulb. Disconnect electrical connections to the fuel gauge, temperature gauge, ammeter and cigarette lighter. Then lift out the instrument housing.

Next, you are going to unscrew the passenger side package tray and then remove the screws holding the chrome escutcheons at each end of the Corvette’s Grab Bar. Slide the escutcheons toward the center of the bar to expose the screws hidden beneath them. Remove these screws and lift the bar out. After unscrewing the nuts, remove the aluminum dash insert. Also remove the radio speaker grille, which is retained by four nuts that need to be accessed from beneath the dash. Remove the rear view mirror, which is held by two nuts that are also accessed from below the dash.

You can now begin removing the Corvette’s Windshield by unscrewing the hinge pillar end caps retaining the dash pad in the area above the upper door hinges. Fold the dash pad up to gain access to the windshield retaining nuts. Go underneath the dash area to access the nuts that run along the cowl beneath the base of the windshield assembly. Once the nuts have been removed, the windshield assembly can be lifted up. Pull the old dash pad off and scrape any foam that remains stuck to the dash panel. The vinyl covering on the new dash pad must be cut to allow mounting of the mirror, speaker bezel, etc. The edges need to be trimmed back as well. The vinyl will shrink with time so it is very important to trim only the bare minimum necessary and leave plenty of overlap beneath everything that mounts over the vinyl. Use interior adhesive to glue the flap of vinyl that sits beneath the windshield but otherwise do not glue the pad down. The instrument housing, dash insert, end caps, and so on will retain the pad once they are all installed.

8 thoughts on “Corvette Restoration Tip: Dash Pad Installation

  1. I want to upgrade a 1978 Corvette dash board to eliminate the center console gauges. Will a 1984 dash board fit into a 1978 cockpit?

  2. Great explanation on changing the dash… Wow! That sounds complicated I just bought the Vette. 1958 at auction and the dash board is new, but they must have cut too much away on the right side and in the corner of the windshield where the dash pad should be under the window seal, there is a small but noticeable gap (1/8″ gap and about 3″ long) as the windshield curves. I’d like to try to patch it. I was thinking of heating it to stretch it and then glue it, but it’s hard to clamp in that area. Any other ideas?

  3. Bob,
    Good Luck, that is where they all come loose when not properly installed. I don’t think you will be able to stretch it. I would look into a good interior shop in your area that has done them and let them replace the dash.

  4. Your Q &A have a lot of answers. I am just getting into vetts – I just bought a 1975 and a 1991 a month ago and need all the help l can get on restoring. Thank you – the 1975 is completely gutted on the inside.

  5. Fred:
    Welcome to the Corvette family! A few words of advice: First, decide what your goals are for your Corvettes (daily driver, show car, race car, etc.) The, ask yourself how much you really want to spend on your cars! Determine what needs to be fixed first to make your cars safe and make those projects a priority. In the beginning, you need to focus on reliability. Once your cars are reliable, then you can begin to focus on aesthetics. Be honest with yourself concerning your abilities and willingness to do the work yourself, or consider farming out the work to a competent shop. Many times, it is less expensive to pay a professional to do the work only once. Another important step is to join your local Corvette Club! They will be a valuable resource for you. And above all else, HAVE FUN. Zip is here to help you in any way we can. Click here to request our generation specific catalogs which are packed full of product info and technical tips.

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