A while ago I was traveling back from a car show in the dark and needed my lights. Although it was a quick trip home I realised just how awful the dash lights are in these early Mustangs. I have seen at SEMA last year all sorts of digital dashs and they looked amazing, but they came away from the classic look that I was trying to retain. So I had a word with Adam at Mustang Maniac who showed me the various options and what to expect. I settled for an illumination pack of four LED’s that will make a huge difference so I was told. The difficult part was deciding on what colour to go for. They even make a set of bulbs that matched the original colour scheme that would have come from the factory, with the fresh bulbs and the fresh filters! So I picked my blue bulbs (of course) and couldn’t wait to get started. Saturday was a lovely day and I decided that would be an ideal time to do the job, unfortunately I promised the wife I would help her with a couple of jobs, but that had to be postponed until Sunday now. She didn’t look to impressed when I said I had to do it when the sun was out, or the car would get wet! More making up I have to do now.
I have created a full walk through guide here but I will outline what I done, or you can cut & Paste this to your browser:
Before we get going, it was an idea to get the before picture.
Here is a comparison of the bulbs side by side which both have the standard 1895 fittings. The LED bulb has five lenses, a large one on top and four around the sides to spread the light evenly, a clever piece of engineering for a bulb.
If you wanted to buy a set click here for the link.
I decided that I was going to do it properly by removing the dash and the internal bulb filters. The process to swap the bulbs is fairly simple, but fiddly at the best of times. You will need to remove the gauges and take the unit apart to do it properly. After disconnecting the battery I covered the steering column with a fleece cloth to avoid the damage to the paint and also to protect the possibility of the brittle gauge cover being cracked if you drop it.
The whole cluster is held in place by six screws, four at the top and two at the bottom either side of the steering column that I have arrowed some of them here.
With all the screws out you can pull forward the cluster to expose the back. Behind the cluster there is the speedo cable screwed to the back of the speedo gauge itself, and a mass of wires. As I have big hands this is not the easiest of tasks to be dexterous and unscrew the speedo cable. But as my car is a recent restoration mine could be undone with fingers. There isn’t much room to work behind here, so when I was putting the car back together again with the new wire loom from American Autowire, I created an additional quick disconnect plug, just in case I needed to remove the dash for some reason in the future, this is a good example why. Here you can see the disconnect plug and the speedo fitting.
I took my cluster from the car to the work area and laid it on a towel to protect the finish of the face.
With the two sections apart this will expose the gauges and the coloured filters for the bulbs. The replacement bulb filters were held in place by a stud and a screw as I had replaced these at the time of assembly.
With the filters out of the way you can see all of the bulbs. You can at this point twist the old bulbs out and replace with the LED’s, or remove the sprung loaded bulb holders out of their holes from the rear.
It’s worth a few pictures of the bulbs up close, and you buy a full pack of seven bulbs which included the indicator bulbs and the high beam. For me these are fine with the tungsten fittings to be fair.
The new LED’s are the same fitting as the old bulbs and are a simple press in and twist replacement, like for like.
After I refitted the cluster together again I took it back to the car and reconnected the wires. Now is the most difficult part to refit the speedo cable, not only did I have blue bulbs now, but the air inside of the car was turning very blue too. This is a tricky part of the job and has to be aligned dead straight to start the thread of with.,To make matters worse you can’t see behind it unless you have a mirror so it’s all done by feel. With everything now connect up I could screw the dash back into position. Reconnect the battery and voila! Job Done.
In total it took me about an hour and a half to complete and I am so happy with the results. Here is the side by side comparison.
Now I can’t wait to drive her in the dark. This is such a worthwhile simple upgrade job that makes a huge difference, not just for safety but also for keeping an eye on the gauges for any potential problems. I honestly recommend this upgrade. Next weekend is my local car show and I am looking forward to that, so there will be an update from me on that, providing it don’t rain and I can get in this time without having to wait for two hours!
Oh, it’s also Fathers Day in the UK on the 18th June, I hope my two little guys (the dogs) treat me to something nice, hint hint!