Our Cobra replica project is nearing completion, and it has been a great experience so far. We always chat up fellow attendees when hitting the local cruise nights and shows, and we've received great feedback on our project. Some people ask why we didn't put an FE in the project or why we didn't go the true donor route. We tell them that, as in any project, it is yours; do what you want. Don't be compelled to do what everyone else does, or build/restore/restomod something a certain way because that's what is expected of you. Be original, be creative, and best of all-be true to yourself. There's nothing wrong with a low-buck donor build with a single four-barrel carb. There's also nothing wrong with a full, period-correct build with an FE, Top Loader, Smiths gauges, and all the trimmings. We don't wish to scare anyone away from a budget build with donor parts, but our project is being built the way we want our Roadster to perform and look when it is finished.
This month we're tackling a few of the smaller subsections now that the full drivetrain is in. With the engine and transmission in place, we can start routing the electrical components and route the chassis wiring. Before we really get into the wiring, however, the dash needs to be configured and test fit. We need to get the pedals into the foot box (can't mount the fuse box if we don't know where the pedals will end up), and we'll also tackle the cooling system now that the engine is in. This way, we can go full bore on the wiring next month and then it's just a few odds and ends (brake lines, driveshaft, wipers, body components, and so on) before we send the body and chassis off for painting.
The FFR Roadster comes with a precut dashpanel to use either the donor gauges from a Mustang, any 4-inch replica gauge, or even a standard 3 3/8-inch aftermarket gauge. Since we're not going for concours accuracy here (if anything, we want accurate gauges over accurate looks), we splurged on a complete brace of Auto Meter Cobalt gauges. These slick-looking gauges are available as an electric version with high-performance air-core needle movement and a full-sweep face that gives more information and is easier to read, as well as standard electric and mechanical styles. They are lit through the face like an OEM gauge with blue LED lighting.
Auto Meter offers all sorts of gauge types in the Cobalt line. Besides the electric speedometer (PN 6288; $249.95) and electric tachometer (PN 6297; $169.95) we filled the center of the dash with Cobalt oil pressure (PN 6153; $199.95), oil temperature (PN 6156; $130.95), water temperature (PN 6155; $130.95), voltmeter (PN 6191; $99.95), and the programmable fuel level (PN 6114; $109.95). To further complement the dash design, we're using a stock '65-'66 Mustang ignition switch (easy to wire and has a '60s-period flare), as well as wiper and headlight ID rings-also from the '65-'66 Mustang, which we scored through Virginia Classic Mustang.
For the pedals, we used a '96 Mustang pedal-box assembly from All Mustang Recycling, with new components from Texas Mustang to spiff it up. When we got to the cooling system part of the build, we called upon Forte's Parts Connection for a degas tank, and ffmetal.com for an aluminum fan shroud.
Next month, we'll get deep into our wiring and get the Roadster ready for those last-minute upgrades and back-ordered parts before we head off to the paint shop. Check out this month's build progress in the photos and remember to check out our weekly updates online at our Web site's build diary.
The stock precut dash from...
The stock precut dash from Factory Five is set up for the standard street 427-gauge layout. Some people prefer the competition-gauge layout with the speedometer in the center of the dash, while others start with a bare dashpanel and let their imaginations run on gauge and switch placement. We used the precut dash with a few small variations. Here, we mock up the Auto Meter Cobalt gauge placement. Notice at this angle, simulating the driver's line of sight, the gauges are a little cut off from view.
In the Auto Meter catalog,...
In the Auto Meter catalog, we spotted some gauge angle rings (PN 2234; $8.95). We picked up two packages of them to turn the center gauges towards the driver. The kit comes with different gauge retainers that you cut with a paper template for the gauge to mount correctly. Here's one completed next to the existing flat mounted gauge.
The final process of angling...
The final process of angling the center gauges definitely helps the driver's viewpoint of being able to quickly scan the gauges for any concerns.