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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.