KJ Jones
Brand Manager, 5.0 Mustang & Super Fords
October 1, 2008
A bright LED shift light and digital rpm display are the main features of Auto Meter's new Digital Pro Shift System (PN 3389; $212.95). We installed this Level 3 version in Hassim Mancilla's SN-95 Pony. The Level 3 gauge includes four programmable shift points, a launch-light feature, a progressive shift light with seven different light colors, peak-rpm recall, and 80 seconds of record time.

Watching the sometimes major-and many times subtle-changes or "swings" in late-model Mustang trends is one of the most interesting aspects of our jobs as 'Stang-mag editors. New parts that result from those changes come and go all the time. Our position on the frontlines of the performance-technology battlefield gives us a bird's-eye view of how you, the enthusiasts who count on this performance technology to improve your Mustangs, play a huge role in solidifying a component's "hot" status. Enthusiasts also make it clear when a part needs some refining or should even be dropped from a company's product line altogether.

The Monster-style shift-light tachometer (a tach with a huge 5-inch face and a bright yellow shift light attached), of all things, is one component that caught on with the Mustang set many years ago. Having one mounted on the dash or A-pillar of Fox ('79-'93) through SN-95/New Edge ('94-'98/'99-'04) Ponies has been a clear and established trend.

Aside from the fact that an accurate, high-quality aftermarket tachometer is important and recommended for any 'Stang that packs way-above-stock power and torque and is driven aggressively, 'Stangbangers took to the big-faced instruments like bears to honey, mainly because Monster tachs could be found inside the cockpits of practically every Pro Stock car racing in the NHRA. Besides, back in those days, who wouldn't want to put on the same equipment used by the likes of Bob Glidden for everybody to see?

Here is Auto Meter's dual-gauge A-pillar pod (PN 12127; $57.95) and the DPSS.

Today, downsizing seems to be the trend that's driving our world, and Auto Meter has developed a new tachometer/shift-light product that falls right in line with many companies' efforts to produce bigger things in much smaller packages. The Digital Pro Shift System (PN 3389; $212.95) effectively combines the functionality and accuracy of Auto Meter's sweep-style, shift-light Monsters with modern-day digital technology, all rolled into a much smaller 21/16-inch gauge. A tube-style unit is also available.

Before we began this project, Hassim Mancilla's clean '94 GT sported an Auto Meter Sport-Comp Silver series tach and shift light that was mounted on the aforementioned A-pillar, at the lower-left corner of the dash. While the gauge mounted in this location gave the 'Stang's interior a racy flair, its large size obstructed Hassim's view. He was actually exploring options for replacing the Monster when we contacted GTR High Performance in search of a recipient for a DPSS gauge.

GTR's Ricardo Topete took care of the simple gauge swap (it's just a three-wire deal on a 5.0 'Stang), which includes installing an A-pillar gauge pod (PN 12127, $57.95) and programming the new DPSS in Hassim's Pony. While the new unit has a multitude of features that are far beyond the basic shift-light tachs of old, we really dig its streamlined design.

Read on through the following captions to see that sometimes good things really do come in small packages.

Installing the DPSS and pod combination only requires a drill and two small drill bits, 14-gauge wire, wire connectors, and a crimping tool. After removing the negative battery cable, the GT's Auto Meter Sport-Comp monster tach, the driver-side A-pillar trim, doorsill trim, and weatherstrip, GTR High Performance's Ricardo Topete sets up the new pieces by drilling a hole in the factory A-pillar cover and small mounting holes at the four corners of the pod. The green, red, and black wires on the gauge will pass through the hole in the factory A-pillar cover. Once the wires are transferred between the pillar and pod, the two trim pieces are secured to each other with the pins that are included with the gauge-pod kit.

Despite its multiple functions, there's nothing painful about wiring the DPSS, as it's only a three-wire procedure (red wire/12V, green wire/tach signal, black wire/ground). The job was even easier in our case, because all of the behind-the-dash (power and ground) and underhood (tach signal) wiring from Hassim's previous tach was reusable.

Once the gauge and pod/pillar-trim assembly is complete and we have confirmation that it powers up when the ignition is turned on, Ricardo presses the weatherstrip and trim in place.

Programming a DPSS is straightforward. Press the "Mode" button and choose one of the unit's many features; then select "Enter" to lock in a setting. DPSS gauges are offered in three levels, including Level 1 (single-color shift light, one programmable shift point, and peak rpm recall), Level 2 (four programmable shift points, launch-light, progressive shift light with seven light colors, and peak rpm recall), and the Level 3 gauge that Hassim will watch from this point forward.

As is often the case when we ask enthusiasts to help us out by letting us use their Mustangs for tech projects, Hassim's '94 'Stang arrived at GTR High Performance in extra-clean form. We heard he stayed up late detailing the Pony the night before our gauge installation, so as a reward and sincere thank you for going above and beyond, here's the "my car is in the new 5.0" shot we're betting Hassim hopes to see!